You better not pout, you better not cry…but digital marketers might just be tempted to when they realize the amount of competitive clutter they face this time of year. Tis the season for selling, after all, and everybody knows it.
How, then, does a brand go about setting itself apart? One way is by adopting a marketing strategy that incorporates the holidays into this month's media buys. Here are five easy ways to do it.
1. Use little branded items to plant the seed for bigger buys. Some products make better gifts than others, but that doesn't mean those companies selling high consideration purchases are out of luck. Consider the automakers that are currently busy deploying emails that promote everything from branded kid-sized pedal cars to golf clubs, luggage, and watches.
These companies know most consumers can't afford to buy a new car as a gift. They also know that doesn't change the way fans of their vehicles feel about their brands, and so they showcase their branded apparel and accessories and offer holiday deals or free shipping to incite a purchase. When a wife gives her husband a Ford Mustang t-shirt or a husband buys a toy BMW for his son, everyone involved feels that much closer to the brand. And that can pay off when it comes time to buy the real thing.
2. Highlight your service brand's expertise by offering helpful holiday hints. Companies that offer a service instead of a tangible product also face a marketing challenge during the holiday season. But while it may seem that they're at a disadvantage, they actually have something very valuable to offer consumers. At this time of year, the expertise of professionals like real estate agents, contractors, and painters can have all the makings of a display ad or email campaign.
For example, a realtor can use a banner buy to explain the practical advantages of buying versus renting by using the upcoming new year as an opportunity to "make a fresh start." A painting service, meanwhile, can provide tips for creating holiday-ready walls, while a contractor can advise consumers on how to clean up household damage made by tiny guests. Once the hustle of the holidays is over, consumers will remember these service providers fondly, and that stands to have an effect on future sales and referrals.
3. Showcase multiple products with a holiday countdown. Check your inbox and you're likely to see the trend at this time in the holiday season is the ever-popular December countdown. Most brands, like LivingSocial - which is giving a portion of its proceeds to charity - adopt a "12 days of giving" or "12 days of deals" approach and start early knowing that consumers need time both to make their decisions and to receive their orders by mail. Others, like Soap.com, opt for "31 days of giveaways" in order to promote their products throughout the month with daily prizes.
By highlighting a different product daily and offering a related deal, brands can educate consumers about their full spectrum of products. Once shoppers begin to catch on, they'll anticipate the next day's deal and go out of their way to find it.
4. Get personal to help consumers through their shopping list. Marketers are constantly trying to get inside consumers' heads, wondering what motivates their holiday purchases and what they're looking for. Often the answer isn't, in fact, what, but who. By recognizing that most consumers are working from a wish list, and that sifting through hundreds of options to find exactly what they need is a reality of the season, brands can endear themselves to their potential customers.
In a campaign for JCPenney's American Living brand that's currently running on RealSimple.com, consumers are shown a variety of products, then offered a variety of suggestions for whom they'd be best suited to (e.g. "Jill, a vest for your winter strolls") that serve to highlight product attributes. In this fashion, brands can establish a connection between their products and consumers' needs. Shoppers might even come away with a few new ideas for gifts they didn't have before.
5. Acknowledge consumer sentiments with touching creative. For many consumers, the holidays can be an emotional time of year. Chubby colored lights might conjure memories of Christmases at Grandma's house, while the first big snowfall might have parents recalling their December snow days past while sledding with their own kids. Commemorating holiday memories with ad creative that references seasonal musings can have an impact on the way consumers perceive your brand. Something as simple as old photographs can be enough to pay homage to days gone by, but bringing back an old TV spot for use as a pre-roll ad would be even more remarkable. Just be sure that your trip down memory lane remains relevant to your modern day brand.
With so many ways to cater to the holidays, brands of every breed stand a chance of boosting their image and their sales this year.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
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