Checkouts ring, are you listening? In the shops, spending’s quickening. You’re doubtless thinking about how your business can make some serious money this Christmas, but have you considered that you could use the festive period to raise your brand awareness too?
Even if your thoughts are set squarely on sales, making your business more memorable and building your brand will feed into your bottom line.
But don’t hit the brakes as soon as New Year's Day arrives. Brand building is a year-round project that takes strategic thinking and creativity.
Fundamentally, it requires sales-focused businesses to change how they think about themselves. You need to think of your business less as a vendor and more as a personality with its own characteristics.
Here are our top suggestions for raising brand awareness at Christmas and creating an impression on local customers that lasts throughout the year.
If you’re launching a marketing campaign this Christmas, you probably already have some sense of what your business represents (or what you’d like it to represent) in the minds of customers.
Try to think more deeply about this before you kick off your campaign in earnest, and nail down the traits that you feel your business encapsulates. You need to think beyond what you sell and try to conceive of your brand as if you were designing a character in a book or film.
Even if you don’t know it yet, mention of your name to anyone familiar with it will bring to mind a particular constellation of qualities. To tap into this, brainstorm some descriptive keywords you feel are most relevant (or desirable) to you. Use these to guide how you express yourself in branded communications - your tone of voice, your colour scheme and so on.
This should give you a blueprint for how to present yourself to the world that’ll last you long beyond Christmas 2019.
A great ad campaign needs a killer tagline. You need a catchy, pithy phrase for your Christmas ads that captures what you do, but with a special festive twist.
It’s more important that your tagline gets across your business’s essence than seasonal sentiments though. It should contain some basic elements like sentence structure or rhyme, that you can reuse in taglines for future campaigns without losing coherence or meaning. Similarly, it should convey stable ideas about your business’s offer. The seasonal swing should conform to the tagline’s logic, not the other way round.
This is, of course, no mean feat. A good tagline takes real creative effort, but if you come up with something you’re proud of for your Christmas campaign, featuring components you can reuse throughout the year, your consistency will make you memorable and recognisable.
You probably remember Christmas video ads more readily than others. Who could forget Iceland’s heartbreaking 2018 ad featuring ape Rang-Tan, or Monty the Penguin from John Lewis’s 2014 Christmas campaign?
These ads are part of the fabric of Christmas, and they wield a genuine emotional heft. This stands to reason; for grabbing attention and creating a lasting impression, video is second to none. Indeed, the average video piece attracts 9 times the attention of a standard digital display ad.
Given video marketing also boosts brand awareness by 54%, it’s no surprise that the big beasts have been putting it at the heart of their strategies for many years. But small businesses can now get in on the action too.
The internet has made it easier than ever to produce and distribute sparkling video content to an audience you can target more precisely than TV has ever allowed for! If you create a truly unforgettable Christmas clip and share it on your social channels, you stand a chance of driving big engagements.
It may be a cliche, but Christmas is a time of good cheer and merriment. That means your business needs to be social and convivial.
Your first task is to step up your game on social media. It’s astonishing how many businesses’ Facebook and Twitter pages are basically dead zones, with the odd status update every few months followed by radio silence. Don’t be like this - be engaging, be active and make real connections this Christmas.
Social media can suit a more playful, irreverent and informal tone, and when branded accounts banter with regular users, it can often spark off a chain of profile-raising retweets.
But what a miserable Christmas it would be if nobody deigned to look up from their smartphones, right? Your business should be sociable offline as well as online. Why not host some festive in-store events, or sponsor something happening in the community? The real world is where real memories are made, and where you can raise brand awareness that sticks around.
Raising brand awareness involves staying alert to what people think of your business. Unless you’ve running some Orwellian surveillance operation, you won’t ever get the full scope of how people talk about you. However, keeping an eye on what people are saying about you online will provide a pretty good impression of the size and shape of your reputation.
Try setting up a Google Alert for your business’s name during your Christmas campaign this December, so that you’ll be notified every time it’s mentioned online. Supplement this with Google searches every so often, and vigilantly check review websites like TripAdvisor.
This is really important - when people contact you directly with questions, complaints or even observations via any channel, make sure you respond promptly and helpfully.
This is particularly important on social media, a highly visible forum where an increasing amount of customer service now takes place. Shoddy or slow responses will just compound any complaints, and people on the internet are rarely forgiving of rude businesses.
Conversely, if you’re proactive, helpful and punctual in your responses, you’ll cement a positive, trustworthy image of your brand that will endure as the year goes on.
Christmas is an obvious time to focus on raising brand awareness, but you should see your seasonal activity as laying the groundwork for a longer-term effort.
Be distinctive and creative, use the most effective marketing techniques at your disposal, and be responsive. Hit the spot, and you’ll build brand awareness this Christmas that lasts all year round.
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