Many businesses see the bulk of their sales during the winter holiday season, and it's essential to create an effective marketing plan for this lucrative time of year. It's also a prime time to build brand loyalty and recognition with special projects and creative advertising.
Revamping or upgrading your brand appeal during the holiday season is one of the most effective ways to revitalize your customer base and drive sales. According to the National Retail Federation, sales nationwide are expected to rise around 4.1 percent in 2014.
Is your business ready to boost sales and brand this season?
Check out these essential methods for building a terrific holiday branding campaign.
1. Revamp your social media campaign
Is your social media campaign showing its age? Have your regular Facebook updates, Instagram pictures, and Twitter posts become infrequent or commonplace? Social media is one of the best ways to communicate with customers, and it's also effective for building brand recognition.
The holiday season is the perfect time to create activities and engagements connected to sales, promotions, and the holidays. You might support a charitable campaign like a toy drive for kids or a food drive for the homeless and encourage Facebook followers to join in the effort.
Also, you'll want to think about updating your company's graphics to reflect the season. Think about the pictures and graphics you currently display on your social media pages. Yahoo Small Business Advisor suggests:
Your home doesn’t have to be the only thing that’s decorated during the holidays! Keep your brand current by adding some cheer to your social media graphics, such as your Facebook and Twitter cover photos and icons.
Also, keep an eye on what's popular this season in the blogosphere and on Twitter. Are there any trending hashtags you can use for your holiday campaign?
2. Hold a contest
An online contest is an easy way to build an email list, and it's a smooth way to get shoppers into your store if you have a brick and mortar presence. Your contest doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. A $50 gift certificate is often enough to get customers to participate.
AdEspresso recommends holding a contest through Facebook:
…it can be a good idea to run a Facebook holiday contest around this time. Facebook changed the rules of running a contest in the last few years; businesses can launch Facebook contests using a normal feed post.
You can design a Facebook-based contest to require a variety of activities from customers that include:
- Commenting on a specific post
- Liking or sharing a post
- Sharing a photo on the company's page
- Solving a riddle or answering a question
Tip: Don't make it too difficult to enter the contest.
If you present your customers with a lengthy form they need to fill out to enter the contest (either online or with a hard-copy entry in the store), they might not bother with the contest. Today's shopper is in a hurry, and he or she doesn't want to share a half-hour's worth of demographic information just to win a free lunch.
3. Boost customer service response times
Social media has given the average shopper an incredible amount of power when it comes to influencing the decisions made by the companies from which they buy. It's important to leverage this power by providing excellent customer service.
One of the biggest complaints of customers today is the amount of time it takes to solve problems or get in touch with someone in customer service. You know that you're going to see an increase in customers during the holiday rush. You need to plan to provide enough customer service options so people can get their problems solved quickly, and their questions answered without delay.
According to interviews conducted by CMO with major decision-makers at businesses around the country, the consumer's need for lightning-fast customer service has reached an all-time high:
…recent studies have shown that Internet shoppers who received a response online within 10 minutes were three times more likely to visit the business and make a purchase.
4. Focus on driving sales
Creating a friendly and exciting environment online for customers is a great way to build brand loyalty, but at the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is drive sales through your holiday promotions.
Your customers all but expect huge markdowns for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and you can use your customers' zeal for holiday shopping to your benefit. Sales and promotions during the Black Friday shopping craze are like the cherry on the top of the holiday sundae.
Hopefully, you've been building an email list of regular customers who will welcome a communication with an offer like free shipping, money off certain orders, or discounts associated with products. If you haven't done so already, it's a good idea to divide that email or mailing list into different segments with a variety of different holiday promotions.
If you’d like to put a new spin on an old classic, instead of choosing an arbitrary cart total that fits your entire customer base, break your customers into segments and send each segment an offer they can’t refuse.
5. Introduce mobile technology to your campaign
The concept of mobile marketing, app development, and branding through a smartphone is no longer a new feature for the average marketing strategy. However, it's surprising how many businesses haven't allotted some of the budget toward mobile marketing.
Consider how common it is for people to use the internet to shop, and then think about how they access the internet. If they're not looking at a tablet like an iPad, they're scanning information through their smartphone or "phablet."
According to Entrepreneur:
This year consumers are making a list and checking it twice through their mobile device. It seems as though every year, for the past five years, has been hailed the year of mobile, and 2014 is no different. User adoption of mobile smartphones has skyrocketed in the last year and is expected to reach nearly 2 billion by the end of the year…
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