Sales & Marketing

The SME guide to creating seasonal campaigns

6 min read

20 December 2017

Christmas is one of the most exciting peaks in any business calendar and, as with any other major event, planning starts early on.

While it seems unusual to consider seasonal campaigns in the heat of summer, this is when others are already starting to collate ideas and take a closer look at the effectiveness of last year’s activity.

For SMEs, creating seasonal campaigns or festive promotions, marketing or sales initiatives can be a significant tool to make an impact in what is a highly competitive time of year.

But there are often many hurdles that come ahead of winning seasonal campaigns, and it’s the approach that matters as much as the creative ideas when it comes to achieving great results. 

The most disappointing thing to witness during the festive period is what seems like decent seasonal campaigns that’ve been backed up with some interesting creative, but you can’t help but wonder if it could’ve been better with a few tweaks. It can sometimes seem like a process of trial and error, but with careful, considered planning, you can avoid that disappointment.

At the heart of a memorable and relevant seasonal campaigns is a good strategy. This may seem obvious, however, more often than not, Christmas planning can be rushed and the focus left unclear.

Money can’t be chucked around in the hope that seasonal campaigns will stick with the audience. Over the years, I’ve followed some simple steps which have helped keep overall goals, vision and teams aligned:  

Work backwards

Visualise what you want to achieve (within reason!) in terms of the impact you want your campaign to have, on what audience, and any KPIs to measure that success. It’s easy to assume that you need to make the most noise at Christmas time, but it will be the brand engagement you are left with after the period that will prove the most rewarding.

Think about the time and resource you’d need to reach that outcome, and work your way backwards. This will help you recognise the steps required to get where you want whilst also allowing you to create a timeline and project plan.  

If it can go wrong, it will

This, of course, doesn’t always hold true, but it’s a good exercise to imagine what your biggest blockers would be, and make note of what your other options are should there be a bump along the road. Creating a contingency plan is vital and as part of this, it’s good to include internal resource restraints (such as staff availability) and budget confinements too so you don’t have to compromise at any stage.

Keep your message clear

Here’s where things can go awry quite easily. When you pull together brains to create a campaign, there’s a likelihood that a core message could get lost as different employees have different priorities and focuses across the business.

It’s easy to get carried away with Christmas festivities and what’s ultimately a really cool campaign might not actually bring something of value or relevance to its audience.

Sure, it’s fun and caught someone’s attention, but was there a clear call to action or particular brand association?

Unfortunately, that’s sometimes unclear in Christmas messaging, and while the campaign wouldn’t impede awareness or brand recognition, it may not lead to actionable results from audiences, hindering KPIs and ROI.

Before you start planning, have your core message and takeaways to mind, share this with everyone and then build on how that can be amplified in your campaign. 

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These tips are the building blocks to achieving your goals, but beyond that, you can only reach the pinnacle of where you want to be through expert know-how. Even if now is too late to change strategy for this Christmas season, a considered approach to campaign planning around various seasonal peaks is a year-round discipline.

A Christmas campaign should be seen as an extension to your marketing and sales activity throughout the year. Messages need to be consistent and Christmas shouldn’t be seen as a gimmick to tag onto for the sake of creating noise.

The noise created needs to be noise that translates into customer loyalty and engagement. It’s easy to forget that and get caught up in creating a vague Christmas link with your company.

It will be the SMEs who stay consistent with brand messaging across the Christmas period and beyond who will reap the rewards of seasonal marketing.

The battle of the brands around Christmas threatens to consume any participant who doesn’t prepare and consider how to integrate activity with their wider business goals.

Take a step back, think of what you want to achieve and only go full out Santa’s grotto if you can effectively weave in your brand messaging. After all, a marketing campaign isn’t just for Christmas…

Andreas Pouros is CEO and co-founder at Greenlight