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How do we approach marketing as a business this Christmas?

Nat Sharp, founder of Sharp Thinking Marketing shares her valuable insights

Copier King are suppliers of photocopiers and printers, offering sales, leasing hire, rentals, repairs, and service contracts. Specialising in the latest technology from industry leading manufacturers.

We are passionate advocates for local businesses, working in partnership with many local companies, supporting their industry, innovation, and expertise.

Nat Sharp, Founder of Sharp Thinking Marketing based in Tunbridge Wells is one such business.

Sharp Thinking provides marketing consultancy to small businesses across Kent and East Sussex undertaking marketing reviews and developing marketing strategy to help generate brand awareness, more enquiries and lead generation.

Nat has over 20 years marketing experience and consulted at Vodafone where she was responsible for creating a new brand positioning and developing an award-winning thought leadership and social media strategy for their enterprise business.

One of the Sharp Thinking campaigns has won an award for best marketing campaign and Nat has had a dozen marketing articles published. She is also a business mentor to the Kent Foundation helping young entrepreneurs across the county.

Below Nat shares her valuable insight into approaching marketing as a business this Christmas

How do we approach marketing as a business this Christmas?

The weather has certainly turned, the warmer clothes are out, and Autumn is most definitely upon us. Before we know it, it will be Christmas. As with everything this year, it will be different but what kind of festive season can we expect this year as businesses? Typically, for many of us, this is the busiest and potentially the most important time of year, but how do we approach marketing for Christmas in a corona virus pandemic?

It would be foolish not to plan and acknowledge the season, but we must look to take a different and more considered approach to it in 2020. Here are some tips on getting it right this year:

Hitting the right tone

Under current conditions pitching the right tone for your communications will be crucial. It will be more important than ever to approach your customers with empathy and respect for whatever they may be struggling with.

With so many people struggling it is hard to find the right tone. Yet as a business owner you need to inspire, lead and show confidence to all your stakeholders, whether it be staff, suppliers or customers. Keep your messages positive and uplifting. Equally, ensure you are empathetic and acknowledge the impact the pandemic has had this year.

A personal Christmas message from the business or company owner can go a long way in building and strengthening relationships. Although tinsel and musical snowmen may not be fitting, an honest and personal message can be inspiring and impactful. Or even a message of thanks for the support over the last year. Use the festive period to open up to your customers, show them your human side and thank them for the support they have given over a very tough period. You could do this in the form of a formal letter or email if you have a database.

This is also an ideal time to send out a roundup of the year. Each of us has a fascinating story of survival to tell, and your customers will have played a vital role in yours. Share the ups and downs and bring them into your world but remember to focus on the positive and the future ahead to reassure and inspire.

Reward your most loyal customers

It is most important to make your longstanding customers feel valued. Never underestimate the power of loyal customers. According to Invesp CEO existing customers are 31% more likely to spend more than new customers.

Send your customers a token of your appreciation, whether it’s a letter, an email, signage in-store or a small gift to show you are thinking of and value them. Or you may want to offer some form of loyalty bonus to thank them for their support over this difficult year. A little thank you can go a long way.

Safety first

As we all know too well, first and foremost comes customer and staff safety. You will be an expert and have a successful process for putting health and safety and your COVID-plan at the heart of your business. But think about the changes the busy Christmas period may bring – could it drive footfall to your business, could it change the level of support your customer’s need, will it bring new customers to your door? Whatever impact it may have, think about ways of managing that impact and ensuring you deliver exceptional service. This may involve taking practical steps like extended hours, additional staff, free delivery or click and collect services.

You could consider a booking system so your customers are allocated a slot which will avoid queues. Could you make any wait times more pleasant - offering sealed sweets or chocolates whilst they wait? Perhaps providing additional shelter or seating outside?

Make the shopping experience with you more pleasurable and will ensure customers choose you and they soon will spread the word and become advocates.

Support local

There have been many communications emphasising the strength we have in getting through this together – “together we are stronger… we can beat this together…” So why not apply this to your business by getting together with other local businesses and forming a local alliance this Christmas.

You can all encourage your customers and network to shop at other local businesses and promote each other on social media and your website. Analysis from Deloitte Digital shows that 3/5 consumers have shopped locally more often since the start of lock down. There is no question that businesses can create a really powerful message by coming together.

Ensure all your channels are up to date

Ensure you communicate your opening hours, any special changes you have made to support the Christmas period as well as any restrictions across all your channels. This includes up to date information on your website, Google My Business, social media and of course in store.

Remember you want to do everything possible to create an efficient, positive experience for your customers.

Bring people together

This is typically the season to unite and gather together, yet it is looking unlikely that this will be possible in the same way this year.

As business leaders, we can all do our bit to help customers and staff through this period. It is once again time to get creative – are there ways your business can help unite people virtually perhaps an online challenge of some sort, a shared offer where friends and family can benefit or it could be a fundraising event supporting a local cause?

And finally, embrace the Christmas spirit

Christmas will undeniably be different this year but with the same resilience and creativity that so many have demonstrated throughout this peculiar time we will get through it and come out the other side. It will require thought and effort so get organised and start planning to make the most of whatever opportunities this winter has to offer. This can be a time to solidify relationships and boost loyalty but it’s also a time for many of us to spend time with family and take stock of the year that has passed.

In amongst the frenzy of my two girls unwrapping presents and the other obligatory overindulgence, I plan to celebrate having made it through this challenging year. For some, of course, it has been extremely hard and there may feel little reason to celebrate but be kind to yourselves, this has been an extraordinary time and one way or another we have come out the other side. Together we should be hopeful that 2021 will be the start of a happier, more stable and prosperous period for everyone.

Published by Nat Sharp, Marketing Consultant