If you look around you at this time of the year, you will notice lots of happy faces and people getting excited about the upcoming holidays. Us humans, we love the holidays, festivities and any special occasion on which we can celebrate. It’s the time of the year where you can dress up a bit more fancy, get festive, be surrounded by family, friends and loved ones and do fun things.
Whether your startup is a B2B or B2C, with your marketing efforts throughout the year you’re promoting your products and services to someone, to people. In today’s article, we will be looking into why and how you with your company can join the holiday party, delight the right customers and boost your business’s product or service at the same time.
Why should your marketing include events and holidays?
Holidays are the perfect time to connect with your company’s prospects and celebrate those feelings of companionship and gratitude. As a marketer, you can leverage these feelings to have a deeper connection with your customers on an emotional level. This will help build trust and credibility.
People pay extra attention during the holidays for everything holiday related like visuals, texts, promos or anything else which can come to your mind. With your company you want to appeal to everyday emotions while also standing out from the crowd.
Below we will dive into five steps that will help you get focus during your holiday season campaigns and helps you get the most out of it. But before we start with those, the first step is first to identify which holidays and events will captivate your audiences. You can’t participate in every little cheer if it does not fit with your target audience, so let’s start by identifying which holidays and events are important for you and your customers.
Identify which holidays and events will captivate your audiences
In this first step, we’re going to start creating an extensive holidays and activities calendar. Best practice is to plan this in advance, holidays always happen on the same dates every year, so no reason not to think about this early.
Some simple searches can already put you in the direction of getting all the dates you need. Try searching for events and holidays that are:
- Relevant to your country or the countries in which you operate. There are a lot of events that tend to be country specific, or even events that are celebrated differently in the various countries;
- Relevant to your buyer personas, to your target audience. If your ideal buyer personas are made of several segments, try to identify which events work for all and which events only for a subset of your audience. Let’s say that your product addresses young professionals; then you should check for significant events in your target area for these young professionals. But if these young professionals are only a subset of your entire target audience (let’s say all employees), then try to find events that are exciting for all employees and mark those events for young professionals separately;
- Big enough. Of course, if you’ve got a big enough marketing team it is easier to rally behind every little event you can find throughout the entire year. As a small business, however, you need to pick your battles. If you can only support a smaller amount of events per year, go for the bigger ones only. If you’re a local business owner, try focusing on local events like major sports events for example in your city. If you’re a startup and as a founding team it’s still all hands on deck, try sticking to major holidays that are worth your time in both reach and ROI;
- Try approaching the search for your events with an open mind. The first thing on your mind with a search like this will result in the traditional holidays (mostly focused around religions). Try thinking about a wider range of events as well, things like sports events, music festivals, spring break, back to school, Cyber Monday, April fools, mother’s day, etc., etc.;
- Write down all the holidays you can find, set down priorities and try looking at the overall bigger pictures. It’s important that there is a good spread of these events throughout the entire year so that you can support them with your small team or even just by yourself.
- After you were able to identify the holidays and events throughout the year that you want to support, you should, of course, include them in your content calendar as well. Add some lines for which segment they are most relevant so that you won’t forget!
- Now that we’ve identified which holidays and events we’re going to target let’s see how you can make the best use out of them.
#1: Hit key emotions with your campaign.
A lot of people are under the impression that the way they make a decision is purely based on reason. The truth, however, is, that all individuals make decisions emotionally after which they justify their decisions with reason. Keeping this in mind, a successful holiday marketing campaign should be an emotional one.
Try focusing on feelings that fit with the particular holiday like giving back, or gratitude. Other emotions you can concentrate on are friendship, being home for the holidays, good will, etc.
#2: Using online media to connect with your customers
By using your existing and different online channels, it will be easier to connect with your target audience. There are several different ways you can do this:
- Use online influencers – more and more people are looking online every year for inspiration and advice on what kind of presents they should buy. They trust bloggers more than a commercial because it is more authentic. Try approaching bloggers to help you get in front of a potentially untapped audience;
- Email marketing – consumers are always connected and always have access to their email. Being able to access email straight from their mobile or tablets makes email the most efficient form of direct communication with your target audience. Timing is crucial though and just in case they might miss your email, try sending them an email before, during and just around the time that your sale is about to end. The thought of missing out on a great sale is a powerful way to get some last minute sales boosts;
- Facebook – The biggest social network of them all. Try investing into your Facebook audience throughout the year to build a meaningful relationship with your audience, this way you’re sure that your post will be seen more when the time arrives for those special holiday promotions. To get the most out of Facebook don’t forget to use Facebook Ads and sponsored posts specifically targeting your buyer personas;
- Twitter – For certain demographics, Twitter is still the place to be, try tapping into the conversation by using the right hashtags your audience is using
- Pinterest – Of all social networks, Pinterest is probably the one that leads the pack regarding social networks that influence holiday purchases and where consumers are turning to for inspiration on what they want to have. From searching for gift ideas to creating boards filled with a wish list. Be sure to inspire your audience throughout the year and use the online influencers as well on Pinterest!
- Instagram – Visual social networks like Pinterest and Instagram are critical to inspiring people. After all, before someone wants to buy anything online they first want to see it. Just like Pinterest, Instagram can be a great way to showcase your products and how to use them in the lives of the consumers.
#3: Build hype with relevant contests and giveaways
Giveaways and contests are very cost-effective methods to help engage with your followers, get new followers and build hype for an upcoming event. Using giveaways and promotional contests you can get your target audience easily excited about the upcoming holidays and your brand. Depending on how big your team and budget is, these can easily range from a simple Twitter hashtag contest or a photo caption contest on your Facebook page to a complex multi-staged puzzle game. Try to find fun and creative ways to make the contest or giveaway around the holiday while keeping it relevant for your brand.
Have your fans take pictures of themselves using your products or dressed up for Halloween, ask what them to submit their favorite Christmas recipes and in a second part of the contest have people vote for their favorites. The possibilities are limitless.
#4: Create an easy-to-share campaign.
Although it’s always tough to predict if your campaign will go viral, there is a way to try to maximize the chances of it going viral. The most important element being, the easiness on which your campaign can be shared. If you think of the fact that 74 percent of consumers rely on word of mouth as the top influencers of their purchasing decision, it means that when someone sees your campaign from a friend they are more likely to act upon the campaign than seeing it in a pre-roll on YouTube or a Facebook ad.
Some easy but often overlooked ways to make your content more easy to share is simply by adding social and email buttons. These sharing buttons make it easy to share your campaign with just one click. People love being able to have a bigger chance of winning by sharing a contest with their friends or showing off something they love. In today’s social world this is mostly done by sharing content across their social networks.
By creating shareable, branded content, you can exponentially expand your startup’s reach. From memes to videos to microsites, as long as it connects with your audience people are quickly moved to share your content. Make it easy for your audience to know about your business, by making your content more entertaining than promotional, so people will want to share it.
#5: Last but not least, marketing segmentation is essential
This means that when you’re thinking about how to market your holiday promotions you don’t want to waste the profit margins your having by sending discounts to shoppers who just look for a one-time deal and never come back.
If you build profiles around your customer throughout the entire year, it’s easy to segment your customers by lifetime value. It’s the brand-loyal repeat purchasers who you want to give the most special treatment. This can either be special loyalty campaign or for example an extra thank-you discount for the holidays. Any investment you make for the higher value customers will result in higher returns.
Of course, don’t forget that even for your less loyal customer you can build campaigns with content that is relevant to them.
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The holidays are one of the best times to make an investment in an emotional bond with your target audience. The positive feelings of family, giving and gratitude are already on the top of mind of your target audience, and your marketing campaigns can easily piggyback on those emotions.
By segmenting your customers for a truly personalized experience, by making your campaigns easy shareable and by delivering hot (online) deals that are consistent across all of your channels, you’re positioning yourself for maximum success with the upcoming holiday season.
How do you plan to market your business this holiday season? Leave your thoughts and ideas below in the comments to help inspire others!