September 18, 2017
When the holiday season arrives, it’s all-out war. Merchants of varying sizes are vying for top-of-mind status to get shoppers to buy from them versus the other guy. It’s not just your direct competitors you have to worry about; any business that takes a chunk out of a buyer’s budget means money not going to you.
So how do you stand out among the holiday hustle and bustle to claim victory? I’ve put together five tips that will prevent your brand from being a yuletide yawn.
1. Capitalize on Emotional Connection
A great campaign is not based around a single idea (“Save 20% on the entire store throughout November!”). Rather, there should be a heavily researched, wide-ranging strategy that keeps customers engaged. Many leaders think they just can’t compete with the big-box retailers’ marketing aesthetic, especially without heavy discounting, but that’s incorrect. The only thing separating your company from executing with the same polish and precision as a “big company” is how much you care.
You don’t have the budget of an Amazon, but you can definitely care more than they ever will. This allows you to imagine ways to touch the hearts of customers. Think about how your brand and products fit into the lives of customers during the holidays. That may sound a little touchy-feely, but don’t forget that emotion is key to buying. Tap a branding and marketing agency if you need extra hands to execute during this busy season.
2. Change Things Up Along the Way
Campaigns don’t work with a “set it and forget it” mindset. While you definitely need a plan, you have to allow for permutations along the way. Your audience will respond to execution that is lively, humorous, and relevant to their needs—the exact opposite of a generalized campaign that is stilted and devoid of “life.” Any good campaign will need to be monitored every step of the way through analytics. You must allow for detours that still get you to where you’re headed.
Also, while your marketing campaign should include a series of events tied to various days or weeks on the holiday calendar (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Monday, etc.), each one deserves a unique approach that still adheres to your overall campaign aesthetic. This allows for continuity while still giving the variety that will keep customers interested.
3. Don’t Take the Easy Way Out
I’m looking at you, fans of cheesy clip art and stock photos! Lest we forget the important life lessons surrounding Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, his whole thing was about sticking out from the crowd. That’s hard to do when you’re employing methods used by countless other less-imaginative merchants. It’s even harder to come up with something that resonates in an original and effective way, but it produces a much more pronounced ROI.
I recommend imbuing your campaign series with their own logos and respective merchandising graphics. Come on, get creative! Make sure that the graphics you create are appropriate for your established brand as well as the products you carry (even if that means flattering the brands of the products you carry). Also, invest in your own photography. Photoshoots may seem like a luxury, but photography is the most effective way you can create your unique brand messages.
4. Be Consistent
Once you have the overall trajectory and nature of the campaign established, look at everywhere the campaign will appear. Today’s eCommerce customer is influenced by brands in a variety of media, and you have to examine each one as a touchpoint. Your online store is still the central nervous system of how your brand is perceived, so look at every conduit that drives towards the eventual purchase. From newsletters to social media to retargeting ads, giving attention to these connective elements grants integrity to your campaign versus reducing its consistency to that of fake snow.
No matter what “entry point” a customer may encounter your campaign, it needs to echo through various media. For example, if they open your newsletter and see a branded promotion, those same elements need to appropriately carry through your homepage, landing pages, and even your shipped packages.
5. Prioritize Your Packaging
While fancy marketing campaigns are critical to your success, don’t forget the only thing your customer really cares about: the product they’re buying from you. The eCommerce experience does not start and end online. It culminates when a customer gets their package, and it can’t be the equivalent of a lump of coal. What are they seeing on the box itself? If you can print onto the box, slap a sticker on it, or seal it with branded tape, do it! Never miss a chance to brand yourself.
Inside the package, consider branded coupons, brochures, or giveaways. Some of my clients even pay their more artistic warehouse workers to draw custom illustrations on the invoices! Whatever you do, make sure there’s some personality packed into that box. This is the kind of holiday magic that separates your business.
Most of all, remember to have fun with the holidays this year. If you’re not having fun, it’s a guarantee that will translate all the way to your customers. Don’t miss out on any creative opportunities!
About Eric and EYStudios
Eric Yonge is the CEO and Creative Director of EYStudios, a leading eCommerce brand development firm based out of Atlanta. EYStudios is a team of over 30 in-house designers, developers, and eCommerce consultants. Having created hundreds of eCommerce stores, EYStudios has set themselves apart as Magento’s 2016 Partner of the Year. Through usability expertise and merchandising best practices, Eric’s passion is helping businesses achieve their ultimate online brand potential.