The question of what Christmas will look like in a pandemic year is starting to push its way to the front of all our minds. While new lockdown measures will certainly shape the festive season, Christmas is still a big concern for many Britons, and has never felt more necessary.
We know that the year’s woes haven’t diminished people’s desire to open their wallets; 73% of consumers don’t plan to reduce their spend this Christmas. But it’s entirely possible that they’ll be more selective about where they spend.
This is why you need to think about more than just your product offering or, indeed, your sales. You’ve got to think of your business as a brand that people will come to love and consistently choose over your competitors.
A core of devoted customers is good for business in the long term. After all, it costs 5 times as much to create a new customer as it does to keep a previous one.
Also, your most dedicated regulars may well act as unofficial ambassadors for your company, recommending you to their friends. It’s time to think about what will make you the most attractive choice for new customers this Christmas, and what might make previous customers likely to choose you again.
Here are some practical principles for making customers fall in love with your business this Christmas.
With much of the UK now back under lockdown rules, people are going to be pretty cautious about how they go about their business this winter. That means you need to adapt to customers’ needs and boundaries, and make spending with you feel as safe and easy as possible.
In our article on how to stand out at Christmas, we made the point that, in this extraordinary year, demonstrating understanding and empathy around your customers’ anxieties will add value to your brand. Well, here’s a good way to put it into practice.
Your first priority here is to make your physical store Covid-secure. Once you’re allowed to reopen, you need to make sure people know you’ve considered the risks and put that effort in. Start with some simple in-store signage, and then move to new services (if you can) like contact-free deliveries or collection.
Anything you can do to remove the perceived risks around doing business with you will improve the chances that customers will come to you over your competitors.
For the moment, your customers are unable to visit you in-store, so you really should spend the next month building a strong online presence. This means writing engaging content that your audience will connect with.
Providing customers with useful, informative content like blogs, videos or infographics is a cornerstone of great marketing. Did you know that 68% of consumers say that they feel more positive about a business that offers them content to check out?
Think about who your customers are and what they’d enjoy reading or watching, and share what you create on social media. With Christmas just round the corner, this is the perfect time to get to work on a seasonal blogpost, giving a more human view of your business’s festive preparations while still highlighting your offers and products. Check out this article to learn more about getting started with content marketing.
However, building an audience for your content takes time. With only precious weeks left till Christmas, it’s worth thinking about how you can achieve the same results at a much greater speed. This is what sponsored content is for.
Sponsored content lets you feature in a professionally-written article that manages to connect with your target market’s concerns while also demonstrating that you’re the best at what you do. The piece is then served to a pre-existing audience of thousands of local people through your local news website.
While building a holistic brand should be your guiding principle, discounts can offer a quick route to customers’ hearts. After all, who doesn’t love a good bargain?
Whatever you sell, a decent festive promotion will help drive new business while getting loyal customers primed to come back for more. It raises your standing in people’s minds, while adding to that all-important word of mouth buzz about your business.
If you’re able to sell online during the new lockdown, then we’d recommend getting started with your promotions right away. If not, then we’d use this time to come up with a really unmissable deal that you can hit the ground running with as soon as you’re allowed to reopen.
In terms of getting the word out about those offers, we’d recommend using print and digital display advertising to quickly splash your message across the publications your customers read. That way, whenever they check their local news website or open a favourite paper, they’ll catch sight of your promotion.
People like hearing from businesses that offer consistently high-quality products, deals and service, but they don’t always only want to hear about why they should buy those products. To claim dominion over customers’ hearts this Christmas, you’ll have to charm them with something more than the direct sell.
Albert Camus once quipped that charm is the art of getting something without having to ask. In practical terms for your marketing, this means you have to balance your sales-focused messaging with communications that engages with and demonstrates a concern for your customers without (explicitly) motivating them to buy anything.
Social media is the perfect arena for this kind of messaging. Platforms like Twitter are places your customers go to let their hair down, which gives you more license to be informal, playful and interactive.
Polls can play very well on social media, particularly when they’re presented in a fun or entertaining fashion. This kind of content gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your interest in what customers really think, while also providing you with valuable information that you can use to shape your product offering.
So you’ve had a complaint from an unhappy customer. Don’t worry, it happens. What matters most now is that you take the customer seriously and respond to the complaint as quickly as possible.
Given that 82% of people have stopped buying from a company because of shoddy customer service, you can’t afford to dawdle. Be personable, be quick and above all, be apologetic, and you’ll endear yourself to customers.
To make customers choose you over your competitors this Christmas, you’ve got to speak to their interests, solve their problems, demonstrate that you’re safe to visit, and show them love. Keep the twin principles of personable marketing and attentive, human customer service in mind and you’ll make yourself people’s top choice this Christmas, despite lockdowns and restrictions.