By Candace Huntly
It’s that time of year again… where people look at marketers like we’re insane because we’re planning our holiday marketing strategies while the summer is still blazing hot. The reality is you should be thinking about what’s coming next a few months in advance. And if you plan on doing any holiday gift guides for magazines, you should actually already be reaching out to those that have a 6-month lead time!
2020 has thrown a wrench into so many of the best-laid plans. Just because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic doesn’t mean you can crawl under a rock and hope everything works out for the best (even though many of us want to do just that!). Most of your customers likely have the pandemic in the back of their minds (or at the top of mind). They have spent 2020 celebrating birthdays and other milestones via Zoom (or not at all) and they are grasping for some shred of normalcy in a world that is far from normal.
It’s going to be different this year. There is no getting around that. The big question is: How are you going to adjust your approach?
Focus on your loyal customers
Customer loyalty is everything. If you already know someone knows and loves your brand isn’t that worth focusing on? Half of the work to make a sale has already been done. There are three ways you can tap into your existing customer loyalty.
- Revamp existing loyalty programs: Do something new that is a direct response to customer behaviour during the pandemic.
- Offer exclusive deals: If you don’t have a loyalty program, that’s ok! But you likely have a database of existing customers or a community of followers that you can offer exclusive deals to.
- Launch a loyalty program: If you are looking to launch a loyalty program, this is as good a time as any. Keep it simple and keep your customers’ interests at heart.
Keep your messaging consistent
There is a lot going on in the world right now. Keeping your marketing messages consistent will ensure that your customers and potential customers keep you top of mind. Competition among brands for customer attention will be different and more intense this year as businesses try to offset losses from early in the year when so many things were shut down.
Your customer needs will be different this year
Across various industries, brands will need to adapt to changing customer behaviour when it comes to the path to purchase and how they will be most comfortable shopping with you. Will your customers want to have the option to do curbside pickup or a call ahead service (The Body Shop has recently added this service as they adjust to reopening during COVID-19), a robust online shipping platform, or will they feel completely comfortable shopping in person.
In general customers will likely spend more time online this year for holiday shopping. While many customers were already doing online research before shopping in-store, many customers may try to limit time spent in-store. As a result, you will likely need to put extra effort into digital strategies so customers can easily discover what you have to offer while they are conducting online research – and shopping.
Let others tell your story
While it is important for you to connect to your audience through storytelling not selling in your own content, it’s equally as important to have other people talk about how great you are. There are a couple of ways you can plan for this:
- Influencer marketing: Whether you run a largescale campaign with multiple different influencers or you only work with one or two influencers who are really into your brand, influencers will share your brand story in their own unique way to a large audience.
- Customer reviews: Every time a customer reviews your product/service, they act as a brand ambassador for you. It could be tied into a larger loyalty program or simply asking for honest feedback, but customer reviews are priceless when it comes to your marketing strategy.
Build a safe in-store experience
While there are many government guidelines set out for businesses to re-open, can you go the extra mile to ensure your customers’ safety while shopping in-store? Customers will appreciate the brands that do go the extra mile. Think of creative ways you can do a little extra like exclusive shopping times for loyal customers and high risk groups or even staggered shopping times to minimize the number of people in-store and waiting in line outside as the weather turns colder.
Focus on getting attention, not selling
It should go without saying that you need to focus on building awareness for your brand. With so much noise out there now that everyone is trying to get customer attention, your customers will appreciate if you cut back on the urge to SELL, SELL, SELL! Put relationship-building first.
Social media isn’t a strategy
Social media for the sake of social media isn’t going to cut it. You need to put some planning into it and build out a content strategy that is tied into your overall marketing strategy. If you focus on great design and providing value rather than simply adding to the digital noise, you will see better results from your efforts.
Surprise and delight
Never underestimate the power of surprise and delight around the holidays. Tap into emotions, create memorable moments, and just find ways to do something unexpected.
Remember to have fun with your holiday marketing, especially during the pandemic as tensions and emotions are running high. If you aren’t sure how to adjust your approach this year during COVID-19, we can help. Set up a free 20-minute consultation with us to get started!