• nat sharp

8 Christmas marketing ideas during COVID-19

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

How to optimise holiday marketing in a global pandemic

There is no question that Christmas isn't going to the be the same this year and so many of the festivities we associate with this time, just won't be taking place.

However, as a small independent business, it is still a crucial period and no more so for retailers and the hospitality industry.

Here are some tips on getting it right this year:

1. Communicate, communicate and communicate

How we communicate in a crisis has become a real test in 2020 and can make or break a business.

Crisis management communication requires real flair. Coronavirus messaging needs to be empathetic and strike the balance of being honest whilst inspirational and positive.

Ensure you communicate your opening hours, any special changes you’ve made to support the Christmas period as well as any restrictions across your channels. This includes up to date information on your website, Google My Business, social media and of course outside your premises.

Remember you want to do everything possible to create an efficient, positive experience for your customers. It is much better to be honest and upfront than overpromise and disappoint customers.

Consider the impact Christmas will have on your business and what you can do to manage this particularly in terms of stock, delays and staff availability. Open and transparent communication is highly recommended.

2. Celebrate support

With many people being furloughed and losing their jobs and being unable to connect with people in the same way, a meaningful well-constructed message could be well received.

A personalised Christmas card goes a long way in building and strengthening relationships. You can design your own card with your company branding or select a card which is in keeping with your brand values and the overall message you want to convey. Try to avoid novelty cards and humour in the current climate, as you don’t know what the recipient is going through on a personal or professional level.

A card is a nice way to thank customers for their support throughout the year and reconnect with lapsed clients. Always include a personalised and ideally handwritten message inside to show you've taken the time to write and put some thought into it. You can also briefly share future plans if you feel it is appropriate.

Dependent on the nature of your business, you may want to say thank you with a corporate gift. Ensure you spend some time researching the right choice of gift and ensure the individual or company are allowed to receive it. Classic gifts like hampers and stationary are timeless and always popular choices.

3. Prime your retail estate

No matter what business you operate in, your website is your shop window. With 67% of shoppers planning to buy more from online marketplaces this year you need to make your website work for you. Ensure you spend time adding Christmas imagery and highlighting products or services more sought after at this time. Equally, hide products which aren't relevant and add new product lines with greater appeal if you can fulfil easily.

Updating and changing your website regularly, also has the added benefit of improving your SEO.

4. Offer a flexible multi-channel service

Even before lockdown 2.0, research from Klarna and Retail Economics found 71% of British consumers were reluctant to shop in-store this Christmas. This is going to increase the amount of time we spend online over the coming months.

Businesses must offer the consumer choice and be able to offer a seamless customer experience with contact free services, click and collect and even free delivery where possible.

Live Chat is also popular with customers in both business to business and consumer markets.

And try to review your customer policies to offer more flexibility in the current climate through extending refunds for example.

5. Exploit gift vouchers

Gift vouchers can be an ideal and safe offering for customers. Selecting the right corporate gift can be extremely difficult particularly if you don’t know the recipient well, so gift vouchers could make the risk free and easiest choice. Plus the gift receiver then becomes a new customer of yours.

6. Run promotions and incentives

Research shows that customers will value promotions and discounts more than ever and may hold back on buying until they see a promotion. Finance Online states that 47% of shoppers say that their only purchases this holiday season will be items on sale.

With this in mind, have some seasonal promotions to run or to fall back on to entice customers. Multi-buy discounts and bundles all work well at this time of year. And as mentioned, if you can afford to, consider free delivery costs and be mindful that reliable and fast shipping may be a deciding factor in whether to purchase.

7. This is the time for giving

Christmas is a time for giving every year, and what a great opportunity this year offers us to give back to your community when it needs it the most. Why not fundraise for a cause close to your heart. If you are not sure where to start think about charitable causes that align to your ethos and company values.

Make a donation or better still, run your own virtual fundraising event. You may need to get creative, but it will show your customers the kind of business you are, and what values you stand for.

A virtual fundraising event is also a way of uniting people. Anything is possible with so many Zoom events popping up all over the country. Ensure you also promote and show behind the scenes posts on social media as a way to raise awareness and potentially raise more funds.

If you own premises, you could use them as a drop off point for unwanted gifts. Shoebox appeals are easy to administer, have good awareness and tend to generate high participation, so could prove to be a popular and rewarding initiative.

And don't forget to support other local businesses.

8. Use email campaigns

68% of us pay more attention to emails from companies during the holiday season, so now might be the best time to communicate to a captive audience.

You could do this in the form of a festive newsletter and incorporate a special reader promotion to communicate key news and events and show the softer more personable side of the business. Remember as well, it isn't too late to communicate your lockdown business story and give your account of the year.

A chance to solidify relationships and celebrate support

So, whatever happens this year we can't ignore that the festive season is rolling in fast. You will need to change your approach from previous years but there is still a lot you can do.

Get organised and start planning to make the most of whatever opportunities this winter has to offer. At the very least you will solidify relationships and boost customer loyalty.

I hope you've found these ideas helpful and good luck for the season ahead.

For more help have a read of how to communicate with customers in a crisis, 3 essential marketing activities when budgets are cut and how much should I spend on marketing.

Or feel free to drop me a line if you would like some help with your marketing. I offer a 30 minute free consultation to businesses.

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