If Christmas is a big date in your business’ calendar, then you probably started thinking about marketing for the festive season when the leaves were still on the trees, and you could go outside without fear of catching a chill. Retailers and restaurateurs, in particular, should have been targeting potential Christmas customers for some months. But, with a fortnight to go until the turkey’s on the table, there’s still time to do a marketing sweep to promote your business’ festive offerings and catch a few last minute customers.
- A perfect excuse for retailers to get in touch with customers at this late stage is to tell them the last delivery dates ahead of Christmas. You may well catch those undecided souls who are frantically scrabbling around for presents, and your message could be just the thing to direct them to you. Whether you reach people by email, a tweet linking back to your company website, or even old-fashioned direct mail – though the days for postal delivery are fast running out – don’t miss out on the late shopping rush. Data from market researcher Acxiom shows that 12 per cent of people leave their present-buying until Christmas eve itself, and it tends to be more affluent households who shop late. Take advantage of their lack of organisation and deep pockets, by giving them an easy solution to their gift dilemma.
- The popularity of social media may have taken some of the gloss off email, but don’t underestimate how effective email marketing can be. A timely message promoting your products or services may be just what someone looking for inspiration wants to find in their inbox. To ensure that you have your customers’ contact details the Direct Marketing Association recommends advertising your email programme at every opportunity. And with your physical business or website being so busy at this time of year, it’s a great opportunity for such an information gathering exercise. Use signs in your premises, asking customers to text you their email address for further company information and future promotions. Place your email subscription link in a highly visible position on your website, and consider offering subscribers a Christmas offer to generate as strong a response as possible. And use social media platforms to gather customer information, too, by creating an email opt-in form on your Facebook page, for example.
- If you employ e-commerce, greet new subscribers to your website by sending a welcome message to their email. It’s a strong start to what could be a long and fruitful relationship. The increased traffic visiting your site in December is a good chance to spread the message about what you do all year round to a larger audience. You could also include some practical information in your correspondence, such as shipping policies, how to return items, and when you’re open for business over the festive break.
- As well as attracting last minute shoppers ahead of December 25, you could even get some customers on Christmas Day itself. December 25 is the busiest day of the year for the activating of new smartphones and tablets and it also sees record levels of downloads for new apps as people look to put their new gadgets into use. Last year, daily activations averaged about four million a day worldwide between December 1 and 20, according to Flurry Analytics. On Christmas Day, this figure soared to more than 17.4 million activations, and this looks likely to be even higher in 2013. That’s a lot of potential new shoppers to target, so think seriously about whether you need staff cover on Christmas Day to process any festive e-commerce or to help customers. And don’t forget to let potential customers know if you are open for business on the day itself.
- It is the season to be social, so why not tweet a festive message to your followers if you have a company Twitter thread? Brits were predicted to spend an average of 86 minutes using social media platforms on December 25 last year, according to online casino RoxyPalace. Simply wish your customers a happy Christmas or take the chance to promote what your enterprise is doing post the festive season. Create a mix of social media content, varying deals and promotions – restaurant discounts in January, for example – with educational, tip-driven pieces – exercise tips for a fitness business, say – to keep people interested, rather than just giving them the hard sell. It’s all good publicity, you’ve got a captive audience, and your efforts could drive sales once the holiday is over.
- Don’t forget, good marketing is not just about generating new leads – it should be about nurturing existing customers and cementing your relationship with them. In this vein, if you haven’t already sent your regular clients Christmas cards to say thank you for their custom in 2013, you still have time – just – to do so. December 20 is the last day for first class postal deliveries in the UK if you want to send physical cards, but you can deploy e-cards right up until Christmas eve. But, be careful if you opt for virtual cards. Some free sites carry viruses – a present no customer will thank you for. Other customers may find a jokey e-card inappropriate or plain annoying. Judge this carefully. But, either way, showing your appreciation of your customer base is a very valuable gesture and creates a positive, lasting impression.
- Everybody loves a Christmas party, and, even if you’ve left it late, the bustle of the next few weeks should afford lots of opportunities to create a celebration – and make some more sales. Check to see if your high street is having a late night shopping event. Offer passers-by mince pies and something warm to drink to lure them into your premises. Hand out flyers to generate as much interest in your business as possible. Christmas is a time of good cheer, after all, and rewarding your customers with a festive treat is a small cost to pay for potential year-round loyalty.
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do to make the most of the last days before Christmas, start thinking about your marketing plans for the period immediately after the holiday and for the rest of the year. The more prepared you are the better, so make a New Year’s resolution to plan ahead in 2014 and get your marketing off to a flying start.
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