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Running a holiday themed campaign

The silly season is fast approaching; Christmas decorations are coming out, your inbox is filling up with holiday-themed promotions, and it’s now socially acceptable to play your favourite Christmas playlist on Spotify (or maybe that’s just us). 

That means it’s time to finish the year strong with a holiday campaign that makes an impact, but like shopping for gifts, leaving your campaign plan to Christmas Eve isn’t going to end well. 

The holiday shopping season is a busy (and expensive) time for consumers. In 2018, shoppers spent $429 million in New Zealand stores, racking up a new record of 182 transactions per second, over the last weekend before Christmas (Paymark).

Thanks to increased competition over this period, social media is key in enabling you to get the attention of your potential customers. 

So check out the steps below to make the most out of your holiday campaign, so you can relax when the holidays arrive!

1: Get ahead of the rush

START PLANNING EARLY. We can’t emphasize this enough - start planning earlier than you think you should be even thinking about Christmas - success favors those who plan ahead. Winging it at the last minute won't give you the results you need. 

When starting to plan your campaign, think about: 

  • Your campaign goals and audience
  • The start and end dates of your campaign
  • Which social media platforms you’ll use
  • How often you’ll post on each platform (keep this realistic & reasonable)
  • Keep it simple, keep it organized, and keep focused on your goal. 

Based on the start & end dates of your campaign and how often you plan to post, you can work out how many posts you need to plan creative for. There’s no magic number of posts, so take a look at other campaigns that have had a positive impact on you, which leads us on to... 

2: Check out past holiday campaigns

As always, a ridiculous volume of content will be published at this time of year from millions of different brands. Not all of them will be competitors in your industry, but all of them will be competing with you for audience attention. 

In order to make yourself heard, do some research, and generate your own ORIGINAL ideas.

Check out what your competitors posted at this time last year, and be inspired by accounts that you follow, or familiar brands that have a great social media presence. 

  • Did they use images? Videos? User-generated content?
  • What messaging did their copy contain? Did they highlight benefits? What emotions do they target?
  • Did they use hashtags? Did they create their own, or use existing ones?

Once you’ve done your research think about: 

  • What worked for them? Are there any 'must haves' in your campaign?
  • What didn’t work so well? If their posts didn’t perform, work out why they may have failed, and steer clear of making the same mistake(s)
  • What can you do differently? Are there ideas you haven’t seen on social yet? Perhaps something your audience perhaps hasn’t seen before; that’s your opportunity.

3: Get the Idea Factory working!

It’s time to come up with the all important BIG IDEA behind your campaign. This is (arguably) the most important part of your campaign - as you'll want to convey a message that makes you stay in your customer’s mind and (quickly or slowly) compel them to purchase your products or services. 

So, we recommend you come up with a common message or theme. You might think the theme is obvious; it’s a holiday campaign, after all. But it can be a great time to be a little more creative to grab attention and try something a little different.

Air New Zealand released ‘The Nicest Christmas Ever’ in 2018:

This ad references Air New Zealand, but isn’t pushing any particular products - it’s just a cool video.

Iceland (a UK supermarket chain), ran an ad in 2018 in conjunction with Greenpeace, which was banned due to promoting a political message. Despite this ad being banned, it gained a lot of traction in the news, and was played on Youtube more than 6,000,000 times. Instead of directly referencing Christmas, or even trying to sell products, this ad targeted the huge consumerism issue around Christmas, and Iceland is now known for its ethical operating model.

So, why do these ads work?

Particularly at Christmas people are bombarded with pushes to spend money (and often feel the financial strain). So, rather than a hard sell, these ads both put the audience and their interests first. 

If you want to create something that really stands out, the key is to find an angle that goes beyond a generic holiday hook.

What’s something you could do that’s more creative than simply discounting products and promoting them (an approach that countless competitors will probably use)?

4: Promote your products

Although a hard-sell is unlikely to get much traction, it’s still possible to effectively 'push' certain products if you think a little outside the box. The trick is to show, rather than tell, why people should buy from you this holiday season... We'll let you marinate on that one a little.

If you’re unsure which products you want to promote, consider the following:

  • Do you have top-sellers? Why not double down on success for the holidays.
  • Do you have seasonally-appropriate products, ie. things people might buy and use in summer?
  • Are there products that make good gifts?

Tui Garden Products promoted a different product each day (offering each as a giveaway). This both highlights their products and improves their brand image as a giving brand. Plus, since competitions tend to get a high engagement rate, this gets their content into the news feeds of many potential customers.

5: Create fantastic content

Your content is the face of your campaign, so take the time to carefully craft this. Be intentional with your copy; every single post in your campaign should have a clear purpose.

If you can come up with a great tagline or hook for your campaign, work that into every post. Plus, consider creating a hashtag for your campaign to encourage consumers to engage and participate in your campaign (if appropriate).

Back in 2017, lululemon ran a series of posts promoting relaxation (which makes sense for a company that sells workout clothes, as people often exercise to combat stress). Since Christmas is often a stressful time of year, this fits in well without being overly Christmas-y

Here’s one post:

This post above has great imagery spotlighting lululemon products, as well as catchy copy (that rhymes - bonus points!)

Here’s another in the same campaign:

This post links to a recipe. You may be wondering why that works for the business, but it works for three key reasons: 

  1. Because it helps people accomplish their goal of relaxing during a stressful time of year. 
  2. It helps build positive sentiment between the audience and the brand, which makes it easier to sell when you post more brand oriented posts, and
  3. It takes people to your website, where they can navigate to purchasing your products - always good!

Another post in the series:

This post is directly selling, but it connects back into the relaxation message, and puts the customer’s problems first. Perfect.

Looking how to carry this over for your business? Consider the following:

  • There’s a clear theme. Finding an angle for a campaign can be as simple as focusing on a single benefit for your audience. In this case, that’s relaxation.
  • It links to a bigger goal. By putting relaxation first (and tying their products into that goal), lululemon avoids their posts feeling spammy.
  • Think beyond generic holiday campaigns. This works well because it thinks about the customer’s life around the holidays, making them more helpful than most companies pushing me-first holiday sales.

And ho-ho-ho just like that, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to help turn that musty, last-minute holiday post, into a well-thought-out holiday campaign that can shine. 

If you're looking for expert help with your holiday campaign this year, get in touch! We'd love to help.