Christmas marketing: Ideas for a Christmas campaign

Need some promotion ideas? Seasonal marketing is a great way to drive extra revenue. Here's how...

November may have only just begun, but for businesses across the UK it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

That’s because the festive season is an excellent time to boost consumer loyalty, attract new customers and drive additional revenue. According to research from VoucherCodes and the Centre of Retail Research (CRR), Christmas retail sales are set to hit to £78.7bn this year, with the average British household expected to spend a whopping £821.25 each on Christmas – and now’s the time to prepare for the opportunities this presents.

This may seem like a difficult task for businesses whose offering doesn’t have an obvious place in the Christmas culture of gifting and indulging. If you sell workplace software, for example, you may feel you have less of an opportunity here than a company that specialises in jewellery, bobble hats or alcohol.

But whether your venture retails festive party food or bathroom cleaning products, there are plenty of ways to capitalise successfully on the season of goodwill…

5 great Christmas promotion ideas

Give gifts

Gifts are a time-honoured way to show clients that you value them, in turn inspiring loyalty to you. Festive fare such as chocolates, bottles of wine and Christmas puddings are tax-free if the cost of the items does not exceed the threshold, so this doesn’t have to break the bank.

Alternatively you could also send small gifts personalised with your company’s branding – but choose items your intended audience will find useful. A branded lanyard may come across as pointless if your business doesn’t serve those who have a particular use for them.

Product businesses might consider sending free samples to customers who have expressed interest but not yet made a purchase, or sending loyal customers a small sample of a new product to drum up interest. Sending freebies to carefully-selected journalists and influencers too may persuade them to give your product a go.

Offer discounts, deals and incentives

Seasonal deals and discounts can go a long way in driving awareness of your business. Consider buy-one-get-one-free deals or a 20% discount on spends over a certain amount throughout December. You could also offer incentives such as free gift wrapping or an extra, small service thrown in with each large purchase.

Be sure to advertise these offers across your website, social media and – if you have one – the site at which you trade. You might also put a special offer on a voucher code website, which become particularly popular at Christmas time. Just make sure you can afford to give away what you’re offering.

You could also source potential clients and customers and send them exclusive special offers to draw their attention to your business.

Read more: 10 customer service tips to boost business at Christmas

Send cards 

Much like sending a gift, sending a Christmas card to customers and clients past and present is a great way to show that you value them, which could encourage them to buy with you again. Personalised, specially-designed cards (think cheesy team photos) are particularly memorable, and a great way to re-affirm any relationships you have built with clients while working with them or selling to them.

Throw a party

Christmas is the season to eat, drink and be merry, so there’s no better time to host a meal or drinks reception for clients, customers (depending on the style of relationship you have forged with them), journalists, your staff, and others who have had a hand in building your start-up.

While parties are a fun way to boost your team’s morale, take measures to ensure that the behaviour at the event will not reflect badly on your start-up after the fact.

Hire a market stall

While many Christmas markets close trading applications as early as summer, there are still plenty with spots available for local businesses looking to sell their products or serve their food and drink in a festive setting. Trading at a Christmas market will bring your business unprecedented exposure and footfall, potentially leading to sky-high sales figures.

To find out which markets are seeking traders and learn how you can apply to be one, take a look at Startups’ comprehensive list.

What you can learn from Christmas social media campaigns

Running engaging and informative social media pages is vital for start-ups in 2017. Often acting as the first interface between you and your customers, social media is the perfect place to get noticed with some timely festive marketing.

Here are a few ideas for festive social media campaigns, along with great examples of them in action…

Run a competition

Giveaway competitions, if done right, are a great way to boost your following. Simply offer up one of your products or services (or a collection of them), and ask that users follow you, like the post and tag their friends to enter to win. Here’s an example from Glossybox, a beauty subscription service with upwards of 100,000 followers on Instagram:

As well as Instagram, giveaways work across Facebook and Twitter too – as long as you can show a high-quality photograph of the products you’re giving away, and use the appropriate hashtags to make it visible – for example #ChristmasCompetition, #ChristmasContest and #ChristmasGiveaway.

You could also make like Glossybox, who partnered with Sisley Paris for the above campaign, and partner with a fellow start-up whose business offering is relevant to your own to bulk out your prize with products or services from them.

Read more: Great examples of start-ups and small businesses doing social media right

Invent a festive hashtag

Past campaigns such as John Lewis’ #MakeItThoughtful – which encouraged users to strive for thoughtful gift giving – and Ted Baker’s #TedsElfie – which corresponded to an Instagram-based game in which users had to hunt for ‘missing elves’ across multiple profiles – have generated tens of thousands of interactions across social media.

As a start-up you’ll by no means have the marketing budget of John Lewis or Ted Baker, but a creative idea still has the potential to be noticed.

If you don’t have the means to create a full interactive campaign, you could try a less complex approach. For example, Not on the High Street simply encourages its customers to share photographs of the gifts they have purchased from the website using #NOTHSChristmas:

Share user-generated content

The more you interact with your customers, the more they will feel like they’re of value to your business. Users may well share images and posts about your products or services across social media – try finding the best ones and sharing them on your own channels, reacting to them as you go and perhaps adding your own hashtag.

This will help to inspire a sense of community among your customers, with more users willing to interact with you if it appears you’re likely to share their posts and respond to them. In turn, this could increase the visibility of your brand to potential new customers.

Read more: 6 ways to kickstart your business using Instagram from start-ups doing it right

What you can learn from Christmas email marketing

This year levels of audience engagement with email marketing reached a record high, so sending out regular email newsletters to your customers and clients is now – more than ever – a great idea. At Christmas time, these emails provide the perfect opportunity to advertise your festive special offers, competitions and events, alongside any new products or services you’re launching in time for the holidays.

Read more: 10 steps to writing emails that deliver results

Here’s an example of an email that we at Startups’ sent out earlier this month, in which we bring an important Christmas opportunity to our subscribers’ attention:

For more marketing tips for start-ups and small businesses, visit our dedicated marketing channel.

Things to be aware of while running a Christmas promotion

While this time of year is full of opportunities for your business, it’s also full of potential pitfalls that could severely impact the smooth running of your company if you’re not adequately prepared. Here are a few tips to ensure you aren’t caught short:

Order enough stock 

Use your own sales data to predict which of your offerings you’re likely to sell most of – whether these are the items you sold a lot of last year, your best sellers all year round, or the products that you believe make the most appealing gifts – and ensure you have plenty ready so that you can keep up with demand. Giving customers the option to pre-order may also help you to keep on top of fulfilling orders.

Be aware that some suppliers push up their prices ahead of Christmas time. If yours do, get in early and order what you need well in advance to avoid raised costs.

Start early

There’s no harm in starting your Christmas marketing efforts early to allow for maximum traction and interest. But strike the right balance – many consumers will be put off by the sight of a jingle bell at any point before Halloween, while waiting until mid-December will cause you to miss much of the Christmas shopping rush. Early to mid-November is generally prime time to start.

But regardless of when you unleash your marketing on the public, you should begin to plan it as far in advance as August or September. That way, when the time comes around you’ll have everything prepared and will be able to make the most of your efforts with optimum timing.

Read more: How to deal with seasonal spikes in customer demand for Christmas

Optimise for mobile

According to VoucherCodes’ and the CRR’s research, 54% of this Christmas’ UK online sales are expected to take place via mobile devices. If you sell your product or service online, make sure your website is optimised for mobile users to create a simpler, smoother experience that will make smart phone-savvy customers more likely to buy with you.

Learn how to optimise your website for mobile with Startups’ comprehensive guide.

Look to hire a temp

If you know that this season is going to be a busy one for you, you might consider hiring an extra pair of hands to help you out temporarily. Get in touch with a temping agency if you’re not sure where to start – just be sure that you can comfortably pay the extra wages.

Take a look at the pros and cons of hiring temporary, fixed-term contract or zero hours contract staff here.