The Summer Guide to Christmas: ten ways marketers can prepare
Summertime in the UK is in full swing, the sun is shining and temperatures are rising, making it hard to think about the festive season.
IF Agency recently shot a Christmas campaign on the hottest day of the year.
Every year, consumers complain that the Christmas ads start too soon, typically with the John Lewis Christmas advert breaking in early November. For marketers, however, Christmas starts much, much earlier than that – this year, the IF Agency team started working on Christmas campaigns back in March!
Planning your strategy in advance for the most impactful shopping season of the year can be the difference between success and disappointment. If your brand’s festive planning hasn’t yet started, don’t panic - here’s some advice from the IF Agency team to help marketers make Christmas 2018 the best yet.
Reflect and review
Take time to look back at what worked last year and also what has worked well at other times. Christmas is a time when ideas that didn’t fly at other times of the year might just outperform at Christmas.
Reconcile budgets, set the Q4 and Christmas campaign budgets. Brief agency partners as soon as possible now to make sure that commercial objectives can be achieved.
Plan for success
Successful Christmas marketing campaigns are much like a marathon with a sprint finish! Being organised makes you look great and reduces the stresses of peak activity periods so why not get ahead?
Retailers typically start to introduce Christmas products lines from September but allow Halloween to happen before switching over to festive promotions. As we write this at the end of June that leaves just four months to be ready to launch at the beginning of November.
Create a timing plan working back from when the campaign is to launch into market. Look to historical data to drive key insights on target market and aim to engaging those consumers early on.
Anything that needs printing for Christmas is likely to need a slot reserving at a printer for October time to make those Christmas, and don’t forget January, sales.
Share the key dates with all key stakeholders, especially those who are needed to review and approve. Sending diary invitations ensures time is allocated and helps ensure swift turnaround when it comes to approvals - Christmas won’t wait!
The annual “Christmas in July” roadshows are ready and these events are a good place to gather inspiration and have a look for what to expect at the end of the year.
In terms of creative inspiration, see what’s around, what inspires you and consider how to differentiate. There’s a lot of magic and showmanship creative cues around so take some inspiration from 2018’s film of the year The Greatest Showman.
The seasonal colour trends for this year are centered around luxurious and decadent purples and rich blue hues, which may seem a bit dark when you’re surrounded by the bright neon colour of summer but will be beautiful for the winter months. Can blue be a Christmas colour? It is this year when combined with purple and green!
Consistency is key
The key to creating successful stand-out in the festive season is a consistent creative campaign across all consumer touch points. This is not the season to market a complicated promotion or multiple messages. Everyone is moving so quickly during this time of year, and consumers connect with campaigns that are easy to understand.
Keep it simple
Simple and straight forward is critical to successful messaging. Think of stronger, less confusing messages. During Christmas brands are all competing for consumers' time and money, simple and strong calls to action will help differentiate the brand.
Be the solution
Solve shopper needs for success. Understand the target audience, what motivates them and how you can help. Christmas shopping involves long lists, long queues, parking challenges and missed deliveries all of which can be incredibly stressful. Help alleviate shopping stresses through simple lists, integrating gift guides and recommendations within communications and on the website. Campaigns that are too self-promotional run the risk of being lost in the Christmas clutter.
Search for the stars
With the campaign idea agreed, developing and shooting the creative assets will face the challenge of sourcing unseasonal accessories. During the summer months it can feel like all the stars have turned to hearts for the wedding season but there are all year round Christmas retailers online and prop companies that can help with unseasonal requests.
Make sure there is a full shot list including social posts and video content. If there is food to shoot consider refrigeration solutions and on the day of the actual photoshoot get everyone in the festive spirit by playing Christmas music - even if the team are eating ice-lollies!
Don’t forget about pricing. Especially with flexible or revenue managed products and services. Anticipate waiting for these and get in early with requesting pricing information and promotional terms and conditions.
Anything that needs printing, re-printing or producing such as collateral and promotional items will need production slots and prices negotiating for best budget value.
So, even though there might be heatwave temperatures outside, now is the time to get in the festive spirit and begin the strategy and plans for this year’s Christmas shopping season.
Matthew Austin is an account manager at If Agency
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