We’re just over a month from Christmas and whilst all isn’t quite as it was pre-pandemic, Christmas is all around us. For business that means for many, it’s the start of the silly season while for others it’s about plans for a new year – our post has some tips for all businesses whether it’s their peak period or not.
During 2020 and 2021 online shopping soared as the world adapted to the strange situation we found ourselves in with retail outlines and businesses closed. For many Christmas shopping, this year will be online again. For others, nothing quite beats the thrill of wandering around the shops and heading home with a whole lot of shopping bags. Retailers have to think about their online and offline customers and that’s whether it’s an independent store or a multi-national as there has been a significant shift for everyone.
So, the tips we’re sharing today are a guide to what you can do;
Decorations – at the time of writing (November) the first of the Christmas trees are brightening up the windows of homes and in retail outlets it’s lights, trees, tins of chocolates, and treats for the Toy Show (one for the Irish reading this!). If you are trading in a public space decorations are important, we all need a little festive cheer. If you’re working in an office that doesn’t have a public space or, as the times dictate, you’ve got a remote team you can still think a little about what can be done to brighten up your business digitally.
Special Offers – we live in a time where technically the world is your marketplace and your competition when it comes to online sales. That said, both the pandemic and Brexit have impacted how we shop because people are a lot more conscious of delays with deliveries and this can most definitely benefit local businesses here in Ireland. There’s also a strong sentiment among many of us that where possible we’d like to shop locally when we can, help those around us move forward through the challenging times we’re in. Take what you can from it and get your offers out as quickly as possible, use all the means available to you, and don’t be shy about putting your business out there at every opportunity.
Network – most business networking these days is online and it’s likely to stay that way for some time yet, as a business owner it’s something you need to take advantage of where practical and possible. Networking isn’t about a sales pitch, you’re building up contacts and making connections with, in many cases, the opportunity to share what you do. Aside from organised networking events you can network within groups on social media, Facebook is particularly strong on this as you’ll see at this group Shop In Ireland with 213k members but remember with groups there will be rules that need to be respected, play fair so you don’t get thrown out before you settle in! As it gets closer to Christmas you might choose those networks and groups you engage with carefully because for many businesses there are people out there looking for what you have to sell and decide moving forward what’s right for you in 2022.
Black Friday – what used to be a US event is now worldwide and in many cases, the Black Friday offers appear long before the date itself – Friday 26th November 2021. If you use email marketing get your offers out early in the week before the traffic soars as we get closer to the day. For those on social media now’s the time to get your graphics in place and, if scheduling is how you operate you can do that now leaving you free to hopefully deal with comments and new orders over the course of the Black Friday weekend. Even if your business doesn’t trade in traditional festive products you can still take advantage of the weekend because many industries run with offers knowing fully that people are sitting with credit cards close to hand in shopping mode.
Cyber Monday – in years gone by this was the online follow-up to Black Friday but as the world has changed over the past two years online shopping is really every day of the year now. You might however run with a ‘web exclusive’ that’s only available through your online channels on the day, bringing in another burst of activity as Black Friday eases off after a busy few weeks building up to the Friday itself.
Use Your Email List – email marketing is more powerful than ever, one of the industries that boomed during the pandemic as businesses needed to connect with their customers in as many ways as possible. If you have a list get the email(s) ready now and remember, you can send a couple with offers outlined before a peak sale period like Black Friday or Christmas week and other emails as the shoppers are out in force, remind people what they’re missing out on. And, if you don’t have an email list make a note now to get started on email marketing in 2022 – pop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment for January if you need help in this area.
Look Offline – we know that restrictions can be updated at short notice but at the time of writing this post there are a number of markets planned across the country, if there’s a suitable option for you try to get involved as a lot of us will be happy to shop in places other than packed retail outlets and shopping centres this year.
Facebook / Instagram Ads – yes there are other networks but for Christmas, I’m going to recommend just these networks as they’re exceptionally good value with very impressive targetting options available. Facebook Ads Manager is ideally where you run your ads but if technology or time is a challenge you can always hit the boost button on Facebook or promote option on Instagram and have your ads up and running in no time. With all marketing, you need to think about what you’re trying to achieve with your ads so think carefully about the type of ad you run and the wording of a post you plan to boost or promote so that you aren’t wasting spend or missing opportunities.
Social Media Real Estate – cover photos on Facebook / Linkedin / Twitter are great places to share what’s new and frequently under-utilised, update yours to cater for what matters right now, or even a simple festive greeting if it’s not all about sales at this time of year.
Christmas Graphics – seasonal branded graphics or videos can be used to highlight what’s on offer and can assist in ensuring you stand out in the frenzy for online sales. If you’re in need of help with this we offer training or a done for you service at The Marketing Shop, pop an email to email@example.com to find out more. If you’d like to try your own there are 30 days free of Canva Pro, our absolute favourite design app at this link.
A Plan For Posting – something that happens frequently, particularly when there isn’t one designated member of the team to take care of social media, is that the posts are thought of as the last thing in the day. For many businesses their audience will be online late in the evening but I know I’m not the only one who sees posts appear late at night when you just sense that the business owner has finally got a few minutes free to update on their offers even if it is bedtime for many? Pick one member (or more if you’re exceptionally busy online) to take care of social media even if it isn’t part of their normal job. You want to ensure somebody is dealing with customer requests or if it happens complaints effectively and efficiently.
Update Your Website / Trading Hours / Delivery Dates – in an ideal world every business will update their website but this is a reminder to ensure it’s on the to-do list if it isn’t part of somebody’s everyday duties as there’s nothing more frustrating than ordering something only to discover that it’s past the deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery!
Holiday Greeting – whether you’re at the height of your busy season, closing down for a couple of weeks break, or in the unfortunate position that you cannot open due to restrictions pop up a greeting to thank your customers for their support during the year and to wish them well as we head towards what will hopefully be a brighter new year.
Christmas for lots of businesses is a busy season, for many others, it’s badly needed time off to refresh and get set for a new year. For every business though whether your customers are the general public or the business community, it’s important that you acknowledge it in some way even if you’re somebody who is happiest when life moves back to more regular times in January.