Tidings Of Covid And Joy – A look at the ways in which Christmas marketing will be different this year

Christmas marketing is always tough.  Fierce competition and an excess of internet and social media chatter have, in recent years, meant that successfully grabbing those customers during the all important festive season is an increasingly tall order.

You ain’t seen nothing yet

“As though Christmas marketing isn’t challenging enough, this year the waters have been muddied even further by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  For marketers, this not only means that many will be dealing with reduced budgets but, the much changed landscape will require an entirely new approach to digital marketing strategies” says Dima Suponau, Founder at Number For Live Person.

Although grabbing your share of the Christmas custom may be more difficult this year, it’s certainly not impossible and, the following is our guide to the changes you need to be making right now in order to make your Christmas marketing strategy a success: 

New Value Equation

Across the marketing world, the new buzz phrase is New Value Equation and, this equation is a pretty simple one.  In short, this is all about three factors – affordability, authenticity and action.  This is basically translated as follows: 

Affordability – Individuals and businesses across the world have been hit hard by the pandemic, the result of which is that, now more than ever, affordability is key.  Brands therefore need to be ensuring that they’re offering good value for money in order to be competitive and to be deemed ‘fair’ by customers. 

Authenticity – Understandably, emotions have been running high in the last nine months or so and, customers have been quick to name and shame businesses which they believe have been attempting to cash in on the virus.  Customers are now actively looking to support brands who they believe have genuinely been trying to help during what has been an incredibly difficult time for many.  

Actions – Following on from the last point, this speaks to the things that a brand has actually done during this time and, it’s this point which should form the basis of your Christmas marketing campaign. 

Putting the new value equation into action

As mentioned, your Christmas marketing strategy should be focussed largely on your actions during 2020 and, should incorporate the following: 

Share your values

There’s a time and place for blowing your own trumpet – and this is it.  The beginning of your seasonal strategy is a great time to remind your customers – and inform your potential customers – of the work that your brand has done to uphold a good cause or your local community during 2020.  At this stage, it’s also a really good idea to update your website and social media presence with this information. 

As an example, the team at classic card gaming site Solitaired, had made donations to causes related to literacy and poverty this year. As part of their holiday engagement strategy, they’ll be sending a series of emails to their users about how patronage of their games has helped others in need. The idea is to build a stronger connection to their brand while driving gameplay. 

Encourage engagement

If your brand is, or has been involved in, a charitable cause or public service of some kind, use your social media platforms to get your followers involved.  In cases of a charity or cause, this can be done really easily by adding a donate button to your social media. 

Best foot forward

In keeping with the above, make sure that you keep customers and potential customers updated on activities that you have planned to continue the help and support provided during this year.

Cool collaborations

“One of the best ways of reaching a wider audience is to form partnerships or collaborations and, this can be particularly effective if you’re hooking up with a local business which supports the same cause as your brands” says Johan Hajji, Founder of UpperKey.

Stay connected with your local community through forums and Facebook groups and be sure to support and engage with local businesses.  Don’t worry if you feel that there isn’t enough time for this one – collaborations don’t have to be fully blown partnerships but can simply be a case of mutual support and recognition between businesses.  Give a shout out to a local business on social media and, there’s a really good chance that they’ll return the favour.  If your business is largely focussed on a particular area, then using geo targeting can be really effective. 

The campaign

Now that the above has created a framework for your Christmas marketing message, it’s time to start creating your actual campaign (or tweaking your existing one if you already have this in place).  When it comes to your campaign messaging, there are a few things to bear in mind this year and, these are: 

Empathy – Christmas is, of course, a time to celebrate but, you need to be mindful of the fact that your audience may have experienced hardship and loss this year.  For this reason, it’s fine for messaging to be upbeat but an overly jolly tone is to be avoided. 

Pain points – Following on from highlighting the help and support provided by your brand this year, and, this offers a natural opportunity to showcase ways in which your service or product may address pain points. 

The good news is that a recent marketing guide from Facebook IQ revealed that imposed restrictions and disruptions this year has actually resulted in customers becoming more receptive to new products, services and concepts.  For brands, this means that the target audience is likely to be open to your messaging.  

Getting creative

A lot of brands have already made a start on getting their Christmas marketing out there and a lot of it is coming across as just a little bit desperate.  This includes a live campaign by the British Government urging shoppers to start early in a somewhat transparent bid to boost the retail industry.  Before putting out your messaging, it’s really important to read the mood of your audience which, this year, is a combination of celebrating the end of a bad year and, quite honestly, just wanting it to be over.  This offers brands an opportunity to get creative while addressing these moods, for example: 

  • Instead of a ‘12 Days Of Christmas’ campaign, try an ‘End of year countdown’ campaign. 
  • Instead of reference to revelling, focus on reflection.
  • Instead of focussing on gifts and excess, focus on giving and supporting.
  • Concentrate on future-facing messaging which highlights ways in which your brand can add value in 2021.  

As with previous years, social media will very much be the central platform for marketing and, this should be used to share high quality content and be supported by high converting landing pages rather than just sending people on to your home page.

In 2020, some brands have flourished while others have fallen by the wayside.  In research conducted by PR company, Edelman, 65% of respondents said that a brand’s response to the pandemic would shape their decision to buy from that brand in the future.  For marketers, this means that 2020 Christmas marketing offers a unique opportunity to gain new customers and to retain existing ones. 

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