Believe it or not, the holidays are just around the corner.
But with everything the world has dealt with in 2020, they can’t come fast enough.
Traditionally, the holiday season is a time for us to reflect, connect with those we care about, and for businesses to capitalize on increased consumer spending.
However, will the 2020 holiday season look different than usual?
It most certainly will.
Traveling to see loved ones, getting to the mall on Black Friday, and catching up in person for the yearly Christmas parties are all things we may need to sacrifice in a time of social distancing.
These individual sacrifices have a flow-on effect for business. Now, what is usually the biggest spending period of the year could be in jeopardy. Or will the way we shop just change?
I like to lean toward optimism. With every challenge, there is an opportunity, and the global pandemic of 2020 is no different.
As a brand, you need to adapt to a consumer world that will be at a physical distance and your holiday marketing tactics need to shift, too.
So, what does the holiday season look like at a distance? (Pun intended)
Here are 7 holiday marketing ideas with social distancing in mind.
#1. Run a holiday contest
Social media contests enable you to connect with your customers, reward participation, and increase lead flow all at a distance. Everything happens in the digital world.
I particularly like the idea of photo and video submission contests for the upcoming holiday season because many people have extra home time on their hands. Meaning they can get creative.
The Thanksgiving recipe submission contest below is an example of how you can leverage the holidays to engage with your customers:
Of course, submission contests are also an excellent way to collect user-generated content and subtly promote your brand via social media. Especially if entrants submit photos or videos with your products. You can use this content for marketing purposes well into the future.
#2. Host (or attend) a virtual event
Unfortunately, conferences, events, and trade shows will be severely limited this year due to social distancing rules. However, who’s to say you can’t run or attend a virtual event to connect with your customers?
With more and more people becoming familiar with video conferencing software, such as Zoom, I predict virtual events to spike in popularity this holiday season. You could run an educational webinar, an invitation-only guest event, or even a full-blown online conference with guest speakers, sponsors, and all the bells and whistles.
A virtual event doesn’t even need to be a big occasion, you could do something as simple as catching up with your customers for a virtual happy hour every week, for example. You are only limited by your creativity!
#3. Look at new online channels
With social distancing in full force, many businesses are losing, or severely reducing, a major distribution channel. Retail shops, markets, and other offline channels will undoubtedly feel the pinch of the pandemic this holiday season.
You may look at new online channels as a way to compensate for this drop. For example, if you sell physical products there are marketplaces such as Etsy, Amazon, and eBay that have a ready-made audience to tap into.
Alternatively, you could leverage online dropshipping marketplaces or discover new online stockists to increase the awareness of your brand.
SaleHoo, for example, is an online marketplace connecting dropshipping stores with brands looking to expand their reach:
Distributor marketplace, SaleHoo
This holiday season may be a time to test out new channels and open up opportunities for the future.
#4. Focus on your current audience
I’m sure you’ve heard this statistic mentioned many times before.
Getting a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one.
So, with some limitations on physical marketing initiatives, why not double-down on your current audience?
Ramp up rewards programs, invite-only contests or events, and exclusive discounts to maximize the value of each person in your database.
Connecting more with your current audience during these trying times will also humanize your brand and strengthen relationships.
#5. Seek strategic partnerships
Social distancing has affected the entire world, so your brand isn’t the only one looking for new opportunities and creative ways to reach prospects. Why not partner with complementary brands, influencers, or associations this holiday season?
It’s a great time of year to collaborate with strategic partners on giveaways and shared promotions to increase your reach and build a meaningful business relationship.
These collaborations could be something as simple as a shared coupon drop in product shipments or a special release bundled product.
#6. Gamify the experience
Sometimes digital marketing has a tendency to be impersonal or disconnected. However, with new interactive technology and gamification techniques, it’s easier than ever to excite and engage your audience.
Consider interactive experiences such as personality quizzes, multi-day giveaways, or pick-a-prize contests.
For example, this Halloween personality quiz is created using one of the many templates available on ShortStack:
A gamified experience can help increase your conversion rates, the time prospects spend on your website and the memorability of your brand.
#7. Use social distancing in your content
Your customers are likely experiencing many of the same quirks and challenges of social distancing as you. So you can use this topic as a way to connect with them in your content.
For example, Chipotle ran a community engagement initiative to ‘have lunch’ with their supporters via Zoom. What a great idea for connecting with customers that may be at home alone and looking for some stimulation.
Chipotle’s interesting Zoom idea
Think of ways you can share content and establish more touchpoints with your customers by showing empathy to their current situation.
How will you make the most of this holiday season given the social distancing world we now live in?
For many brands, they are scaling back marketing budgets to reduce costs and keep the business afloat. However, this is a short-sighted approach.
Instead of scaling things back, social distancing may present new and exciting opportunities for your brand to connect with customers and stand out from your competitors.
Identify the most appropriate tactics for you, be it a social media giveaway, virtual event, or strategic partnership, and make this holiday season your best ever.