It only feels like it was a few weekends ago that we were enjoying one of the longest and hottest summers that Manchester has seen in years. No rain for weeks, sweltering offices, mooreland fires and beer gardens bursting at the seams.
But just like that, the Christmas markets are in town, accompanied by dark evenings, frosty starts and mulled wines.
But what happens when November rolls into December, Christmas is less than 25 days away and you’ve only just got to ‘Christmas Ideas’ on the ever-lengthy to-do list?
Just forget it this year? No! But that doesn’t mean a simple ‘Merry Christmas from all of us’ post on Twitter will cut it either.
You can still make Christmas work – work really well – for your brand, but here’s some advice that would be worth considering to make sure the festive period is a successful period, however last minute the planning.
Make it operationally low-impact
Whatever the last-minute idea you come up with, probably the most important thing to consider is making it as operationally low-impact as possible.
You’re already up against it in terms of getting your Christmas campaign turned around in time, so adding any hefty operational changes into the mix to make it work is going to prove a challenge.
For example, would staff need to be informed and would they need training? Would you need to amend a product or service? How hefty would any website changes need to be? Do you need extra materials printing to deliver to sites and could your Christmas idea truly meet the festive demands of your customers?
Even if your campaign idea is to have a festive sale on some of your products, you better make sure you can ship them to customers in time for the big day too.
Consumers typically expect some form of Christmas angle to the marketing output of the brands they follow, but they’ll be more upset if you fail to deliver as promised a festive offering over not delivering a campaign at all.
If you’re running an offer, you also need to consider how this may affect supply. For example, if running cheap deals on drinks, could you restock fast enough if demand soars in the first few weeks?
Make it super clear what’s on offer
If you’re just getting started on Christmas ideas from the first of December, you’re going to have just days to get everything turned around.
You’ll also have very limited time to get across what it is that’s on offer from the customer’s perspective, so anything complicated or with numerous moving parts is going to be difficult to communicate effectively.
So keep the message simple.
If you’re doubling up loyalty rewards for customers, consider offering it across all products instead of a select few. If you’re expanding happy hour over the festive period, why not make it all the time instead of just expanding the time?
These messages are clearer to communicate and will cause more of a stir with customers than adding in a raft of terms, conditions and limitations.
Make sure it’s on-brand
In a last-minute panic, it can be easy to forget the brand you’re actually putting the campaign together for in favour of just putting together anything you can as quickly as you can.
Delivering a campaign like this could actually do more harm than good over the festive period.
So, even if the idea is incredibly simple, it’s better that it’s on-brand and sits correctly across social, digital and all other brand marketing channels.
Don’t overthink it
So many brands over the last year have really looked to align themselves with big social issues to varying degrees of success.
You just have to look to Lush’s undercover police campaign to see the sh*tstorm that can arise from a campaign of this type that perhaps hadn’t been fully assessed in terms of impact and potential public perception or sentiment.
There are of course success stories too. Nike’s feature staring Colin Kaepernick was the talk of the global town. Some negative for sure, some trainer burning too, but also a 31% surge in sales in the days immediately after its launch.
But let’s face it, you don’t have the time to deliver something on this scale or that’s as thought provoking.
So keep it safe, keep it fun and keep it on-brand too. Your social community managers will appreciate a quiet Christmas period over having to respond to a hoard of angry tweeters.
Integrate campaign marketing and comms
Just because you’re late to the Christmas planning party, that doesn’t mean that your customers need to know it too.
One of the best ways to ensure seamless brand communications, however hurried the planning, is to integrate all campaign communications.
So, instead of ‘just getting something out on social’ as quickly as possible because your competitors started marketing Christmas campaigns a week ago, and then maybe next week following up with an email to the database too, get everything coordinated and launch an integrated campaign instead.
Landing page ready, mobile text or app alerts agreed upon and in-place, any in-store signage arranged, creative confirmed and social posts at the ready. Only when every element of your Christmas campaign is ready should you begin to run it.
Yes, your competitors may have the jump on you. But your last-minute campaign will have a bigger impact if you insist on an integrated approach.
Delay the outcome until the New year
If you’re worried that operationally you won’t be able to deliver on your Christmas campaign idea before the big day itself, you can always delay the eventual outcome until the New Year.
For example, if you’re running a free experience or service giveaway as your campaign, that prize could be redeemable from January onwards.
Don’t have time to put in place website alterations for a festive sale across a select group of products? Then your campaign could be a early access to your January sales instead.
This way you can spend the limited time you have available getting the message out there and can worry about the operational requirements and coordinating the outcomes at a later date.
Have a Merry Christmas campaign!