It’s that time of year again already; it’s time to start developing your Christmas marketing campaign.
For most companies, Christmas campaigns are the biggest of the year. Because of this, they are often the most important.
From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.” – Katharine Whitehorn
So, where do I get started?
Planning, planning, planning then execution.
Before you get started: Review your target audience
It’s important here to ensure you have your target audience defined. Make sure that you have defined personas, and are using them to tailor your creative and target your activity. It’s imperative that you continuously review your personas taking into account your latest research, insights and data on your products and services; psychographics and demographics of your customers; competitor and market analysis.
Having a clear audience defined makes the rest of the campaign planning simple and ensures it’s useful, keeping you on target.
It’s important also to consider if your target audience resonates with the season. If you sell BBQ fuel, then it might be best to focus on a summer seasonal campaign or focus your message on gift giving, but that doesn’t completely discount the holiday season as a promotional period.
Step 1: Develop your message and theme
The theme and message are the backbones of your campaign. When used effectively, your message and theme become the foundation of the successful branding of your communications across the campaign.
Your key messages can be defined as:
- Your afters and master narrative.
- What is needed to engage your audience?
- Aspects and summaries of what you’re about: What you do; what you stand for; how you are different; what value you bring to your customers.
Step 2: Don’t just focus on Christmas
Don’t forget that Christmas isn’t just made up of one event. A Christmas campaign shouldn’t just be solely created around Christmas. Most campaigns are launched in late November to early December and include other holidays that surround Christmas. Your campaign has to be able to serve them as well.
Dates around Christmas
- Friday 23rd November 2018 – Black Friday
- Saturday 24th November 2018 – Small Business Saturday
- Monday 26th November 2018 – Cyber Monday
- Friday 21st December 2018 – Winter Solstice (Shortest Day of the Year)
- Monday 24th December 2018 – Christmas Eve
- Tuesday 25th December 2018 – Christmas Day
- Wednesday 26th December 2018 – Boxing Day
- Monday 31st December 2018 – New Year’s Eve / Hogmanay
- Tuesday 1st January 2018 – New Year’s Day
Step 3: Create Christmas themed offers and promotions
Christmas is a great time for seasonal offers and promotions. In the B2C environment: it’s usually the highest sales period of the year, in B2B, it’s a chance to pitch your product and service during a typically quiet period.
Step 4: Create your assets
Next, it’s time to start creating your campaign assets and creative. Here at Matrix, we handle many campaigns every year for large corporates and SME. This is the time to focus on the delivery of the assets and ensure that your campaign doesn’t run over budget, over schedule or doesn’t deliver.
Step 5: The Customer Experience
The most important aspect of a Christmas campaign is the customer experience. During Christmas, most companies put up some decorations and distribute Christmas cards and some website banners. Some companies drive sales through promotions and discounts. Other companies, really embrace the spirit of Christmas and the incredible opportunity they have. They create fantastic campaigns that drive customer delight, deliver incredible results and remembered for years to come.
Whatever approach you decide to take with your campaign, delighting your audience should be the most crucial aspect of your campaign.
When should you get started? Now.
The simple answer is if you’re asking the question, it’s time to get started. No matter when you start the campaign it’s best to get going off the ground quickly, especially if you’re already storming towards the end of the year.
In a perfect world, it’s best to start planning as soon as the previous Christmas has passed. It’s the ideal time to get ahead of the game and recap on the last Christmas period, reviewing all analytics along with the information on sales, profitability and customer satisfaction.
June & July
The summer is the perfect time to start planning products and themes for your campaign. It’s at this time of the year that production of Christmas gift guides is begun, media buying starts to become competitive, and creative concepts should be developed.
August to October
It’s time to start work on the campaign’s message and content. It’s important to get as much work completed in the Autumn as possible to ensure that you can maximise time at Christmas for personal interaction with customers.
August to October is also prime time to create any assets needed to deliver the campaign. It’s the time of year to start production of the video, digital or print assets.
November & December
It’s time to kick off. Most Christmas campaigns will be starting in November on the run-up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and then the Christmas Season. If everything has been planned and delivered effectively, it’s usually the time to sit back and monitor the success of your campaign.
It’s also time to take any reactive steps to ensure that the campaign is a success, for example, changing copy, swapping some creative, or amending the social plan based on live insights as the campaign is delivered.
That’s it. Take a breath. It’s all over for another year. However, it’s time to start again. This is the best time to reflect on the campaign that has just been delivered, and to plan the following year’s Christmas campaign.
Starting early will allow you to spread the investment and ensure you can produce an incredible campaign, to get even better results next year.