Let’s be honest: small businesses have a lot of competition during the festive season. For big brands, waiting until the end of November to get customers in the mood is just fine, and it works every year.
For small businesses, however, success around the Christmas period means getting customers ready early, even when they may be reluctant to do so.
Social media and email marketing tools are a great way to get them primed for the festive season.
Here are four tips on how to use online marketing to help you beat the competition and get your fans in the Christmas spirit.
1. Develop a schedule to help build momentum
Momentum will be crucial in determining whether or not this year’s Christmas season will be one worth celebrating for your business. In order to build this momentum, you need to have a plan for how you’re going to do it.
One way to start is by creating a schedule. This should map out the weeks and months leading up to and through the festive period with specificgoals for each of the big days. The specific milestones you plan to target may vary based on your business and customer base, but all businesses should keep Cyber Monday (26 November) in mind as one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
2. Be a resource, not just a sales pitch
One of the main reasons people are typically reluctant to shift their focus to all things Christmas is that they are not always eager to start thinking about some of the issues that surround it. The festive season can be stressful for a lot of people, so it’s important not to overwhelm people with salesy content and aggressive promotion.
Instead provide customers and prospects with something they can actually use this Christmas. This can be advice on how to prepare their shopping list, how to throw a dinner party, or an exclusive promotion.
This year, start your festive promotions by helping customers; they’ll remember you for it when it comes time to buy.
3. Don’t try to do too much, too soon
One of the biggest questions we get from small businesses, regardless of the time of year, is how often should they post on social media or send emails to their subscribers. This is an especially important question when deciding how to get customers ready for the festive season.
When creating your schedule, pay attention to how much seasonal content you’re planning to post. Make sure you’re giving your customers the chance to ease into it, rather than trying to force them to get in the spirit. It can be helpful to think of things in terms of percentages—for example: In October, post 20 per cent holiday content, and in November, 30 per cent holiday content and 50 per cent in December.
4. Remember what works during the other seasons
It’s important to remember that not everything changes during the Christmas period. The best practices you use in your email marketing and social media marketing throughout the year will not only still be effective in November and December, but they will help you engage your customers in October and get them ready for the festive push.
Using rich media, like photos and videos for example, is a great way to start building excitement without being too promotional. Post pictures frompast holidays or give a sneak peak at new products, and then ask your fans to comment, like, or share. Something as simple as a video on your smartphone can also give you the chance to tell your fans what you’re working on for the Christmas period and what’s coming up.
Put your best practices into action
Chances are you’re probably already doing most of the things you’ll need to do when it comes time to get your customers ready for Christmas.
Creating a schedule, being a resource, and using the right types of content are all things that help build social communities and drive real results from online marketing.
Now all you need to do is put them into action!
Tamsin Fox–Davies is a small business marketing mentor at Constant Contact.
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