4 Tips I learned the Hard Way about Marketing at Christmas

September 30, 2016

When I setup a Christmas Jumper company in 2009, our marketing was easy - there was none.  We were selling an original product at a great price.  We were approached by TV, radio, newspapers and blogs and featured everywhere.  The word of mouth buzz was amazing - we had created the first Christmas Jumper shop in the world and our pop-up store had a queue out the door. Our (very basic!) website sold out on the 8th of December.

Fast forward a couple of years.  We continued to operate the same marketing model as that first year (none!) but everything else had changed.  What we sold was no longer new.  People had seen it before.  Sales were significantly up but we really failed to capture the advantage of being a first mover and industry leader.

In response, we began to implement marketing campaigns and, while some were very effective, they were ALL hastily constructed in November - prime selling time.  This meant that I had to focus a huge amount of time and energy on them. 

From what I've seen, many businesses operate like this.  The Christmas period is the busiest time of year and when I go to the printers or book a photographer in November, they're also very very busy.  Considering up to 50% of retail spend can be conducted between November and mid-January, it seems crazy that marketing campaigns planned and ready to go in advance to allow the business to focus on selling.

We've learned our lesson and now start our marketing planning early in the year. 

Some of the key things I make sure we do are listed below:

1. Identify Target Market early

In our less organized days, we were figuring out who our typical customers and where they hang out in November.  We then try and approach influencers, sending Christmas Jumpers, etc.  However, when you're approaching someone for the first time in November and asking them to write a review / wear a jumper, it's not as effective as is you'd engaged with them in advance.  This year we're targeting the smallest possible target market and are completely focused on making them love our sweaters.

2. Design early and make it completely different

While we always thought about designs very early in the year, in some cases we hadn't finished all our designs until September.  This is ridiculous and there's no excuse.  It also gave us time to talk us down from our more outrageous jumpers to safer versions.  Never again.  Customers love something different.  We've created some outrageous designs for 2015 and am so excited they're ready to go in March.

3. Get Marketing Material Early

I can't tell you the number of times I've been in a queue in the Printers to pick something up in November / December.  It's a bit embarrassing.  When it's last minute, it costs time.  There's no reason why photo shoots and marketing material for Christmas can't be done during the Summer months.  By preparing early it really makes you focus to ensure you're 100% clear on what you're going to do.  I'm constantly impressed by the number of companies the inquire and order Christmas Sweaters in January which allows them to get the best possible designs delivered early and ready to go early for the Christmas campaign.

However, the significant majority call in November when it's much more difficult to get exactly the sweaters you need. It's the same with almost every other seasonal business.

4. Create an amazing website for Christmas

Building a Christmas website in October for launch in November is no fun.  I'd suggest you don't do it.  Build it early, test it and test it some more.  Allow Google to get familiar with it.  Our new website for Christmas Jumper is being built this week and it will allow us time to create some content and have the website fully road tested in advance.

 

I know the list seems long but break it off in chunks and it'll transform you Christmas period.  Trust me, I've been on the other side of this.

Best of luck!

Ross

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