The Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge effect on businesses in the first half of 2020, and following these turbulent times, it’s very likely that we’re in for a Christmas like no other. With this in mind, how can you as a business owner or marketer begin to prepare events and marketing activity for the upcoming festive season?
Luckily, we are still shopping and going out for meals and drinks – albeit in a different, safer way – now that shops and restaurants have re-opened their doors.
In fact, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that retail sales rose 13.9% in June compared with May as consumers returned overall spending close to pre-pandemic levels. So, there’s still a market to appeal to and sales to make this holiday season.
In this blog, we’ll go through some of the best ways to prepare your business and marketing strategy for Christmas 2020 to appeal to this new kind of shopper and remain mindful of the effects of Coronavirus on people’s livelihoods.
Diversify Your OfferingThe massive global changes we’ve experienced over 2020 mean that people’s needs have also drastically altered. Throughout the spring and summer lockdown, many brands have had to re-strategize or re-focus their goals and offering to fit new customer needs. For example, many chose to offer a delivery or collection service.
According to PR agency Edelmen’s Trust Barometer research published in March, 65% of consumers said a brand’s response to the pandemic would have a significant impact on their likelihood to buy from that brand in the future.
This highly responsive and sensitive mindset will likely be the driving force behind businesses’ success during the run up to Christmas too.
Think about what will be important to your customers this Christmas compared to last Christmas. Maybe they’ll want to spend more time with their family after isolation and shielding throughout the warmer months, or maybe they’ll want a way to experience their favourite Christmas activities virtually.
This is especially important as a B2B business, where many of your client businesses may still be bringing staff out of furlough or still struggling with the impact the virus has had on their own business. Their buying confidence may still be low, especially if they don’t know what the next month will look like for them, so going on an all-out sales offensive might not be the best approach here.
Keep Customers SafeSafety is going to remain a top priority for the foreseeable future, which means even Santa might need to social distance this Christmas. This means the rush of the Black Friday and Boxing Day sales might need a little rethinking in your store. Limiting numbers, creating a one-way system, and popping up posters asking customers to wear their face masks inside your store are all great ways of doing this.
Equipping your staff with the correct protective equipment, like face visors and countertop shields is also another technique that will make customers – and your team – feel a little safer in your store.
To make sure everyone gets a chance to complete their Christmas shopping, you may need to extend your opening hours, especially if you’re having to limit numbers with a queuing area. Window stickers are a great way to advertise your new opening hours and make sure everyone knows you’re open for business.
Communicate ClearlyWhich leads us nicely on to our next topic – clear communication! Preventing the spread of infection is one thing during the summer, but arguably this is even more of a priority as the colder months kick in. What are you going to do to help keep customers safe and how are you going to keep them in the loop with this?
Brick and mortar stores, cafés, bars and restaurants are all still limbering up from lockdown hibernation, and following the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme this August, many have adjusted to handle the crowds.
Online bookings have become an incredibly popular and effective way to limit numbers of diners in restaurants at a time, with this new procedure being communicated through websites and social media accounts.
As well as email, social media and company websites, having posters or signs up either in your shop windows or outside can also help to communicate new rules and procedures like booking online in advance. All of this goes towards making customers feel safer and more confident purchasing through you because you’re showing that you take their safety seriously.
For queueing areas, remember that floor stickers, tape and stencils with paint are great outdoor options that will last no matter what the winter weather throws at us.
Embrace DigitalAs counter-intuitive as this sounds coming from a printing company, there’s definitely value in your digital presence during the Coronavirus pandemic, especially at Christmas. According to Statistica, ecommerce website traffic hit record figures during 2020, hitting 22 billion visits in June alone – which is more visits than during normal holiday seasons!
Think about ways you can offer your services digitally, like mulled wine and apple cider delivery services or online gift making classes where you send kits out in the post first – or even streaming your pantomime performance online if it’s not possible to perform in front of a live audience.
And, of course, we have to reiterate that making all of your contact information, opening hours, booking forms and special menus available online via your website, Google My Business and social media channels for customers to double check before they set off to ease any concerns they have about changes to your business.
Run Sales & PromotionsWith job losses and pay cuts as businesses unfortunately go under, many customers will be looking to limit their budget over Christmas and trying to find the best deals they can. That’s why running a sale or promotion for big discounts over the holidays is still a great idea this year.
If your business has also been struggling, having a well-timed promotion is a great way to give yourself a well needed boost! Furthermore, while your competitor’s business might be in a fluster and stopping their marketing efforts all together, by investing steadily into yours, you’ll be able to gain that market share too.
Appeal LocallyAnalysis from Deloitte Digital shows that 3/5 consumers have shopped locally more often since the start of lockdown. Additionally, 57% of consumers say they will be more likely to spend money at a shop that offers locally-produced products once the lockdown has lifted than they would have done before the stay-at-home order was imposed. This could be fantastic news for local businesses around Christmas as shoppers chose to stay local.
For local advertising, flyers are by far the cheapest and quickest way to spread news fast. Pick a postcode near your business and send a flyer to each address – even better if there’s a discount included when the flyer is brought in so you can measure the success of your Christmas flyer marketing campaign.
Say Thank YouThe past year has certainly been different, and many have found it challenging to say the least. If your customers have been the driving force behind your successes this year, make sure to thank them with a branded Christmas card – plus, adding a festive discount code will help guarantee you some repeat business into the new year!
Reward LoyaltyDuring the 2008/9 financial crisis, schemes that involved rewarding loyalty like cards and benefits were all the rage – and with the uncertainty facing many consumers, they may make a big return.
During the build up to Christmas in 2009, John Sheekey, managing director at Nectar, noted that, 'We are certainly seeing consumers more incentive hungry, and of those who have joined Nectar in the past year, more than 50% say the recession was a factor in their decision.' This was largely due to consumers redeeming their offers and points to help with the cost of Christmas.
Loyalty cards and gift vouchers are great ways to help customers cut costs at Christmas and boost their loyalty for your brand – it’s a win-win situation!
Key Takeaways for Christmas Marketing During a Pandemic
Overall, keeping customers safe over the festive period is every business owner’s top priority. By sticking to clear guidance and messaging, communicating with customers, and trying out a few new avenues, there are still plenty of ways to market your business and get a profit this Christmas – just remember to give a little back to your customers too with a thank-you card or discount!