Have yourself a merry little Christmas campaign by planning a year in advance

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Prepare for Christmas with three simple steps / Gareth Harper

Christmas is one of the most exciting peaks in any digital marketer’s calendar. And, as with any other major event, planning starts early on.

While it seems unusual to consider festive campaigns in the new year, this is second nature to digital marketers. But there are often many hurdles that come ahead of a winning Christmas campaign, 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 season is what seems like a good campaign that’s been backed up with some interesting creative, but you can’t help but wonder if it could’ve been better with a few tweaks. Such scenarios happen frequently, but they’re completely avoidable.

At the heart of a memorable and relevant campaign is a good strategy; although this may seem obvious, more often than not Christmas planning can be rushed and the focus left unclear. 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. Then 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 while 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. As part of your contingency plan, 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 messaging clear

Here’s where things can go awry quite easily. When marketers and creatives get together to brainstorm, there’s a likelihood that a core message could get lost in what’s ultimately a great campaign, that doesn’t 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.

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. Paid social can be implemented relatively quickly, but some disciplines, such as SEO, should use these techniques to plan for next Christmas – what’s key is that you evaluate the areas you need to build on to enable your campaign to shine, and from there allow our experts’ advice to guide you on the path to what could be your best Christmas campaign yet.

Andreas Pouros is CEO and co-founder of digital agency Greenlight.

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