Social distancing has had an unprecedented impact on the economy.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes have been affected in one way or another, whether your staff is working from home, office hours have reduced, or the business has had to completely shut down for a period of time.
With such significant financial pressure on the bottom line and psychological pressure on the individuals who drive the business forward every day, it’s easy to resort to panic measures.
Contract, contract, contract.
Slash budgets, reduce wages and sit in a holding pattern until the pandemic blows over.
This is a flawed approach to handling such an enormous global event.
Yes, we all need to be aware of spending and make smart business decisions. But everyone is in the same boat and looking to row in a direction that helps the economy recover fast.
Rather than bunkering down and hiding until the dust settles, I believe it’s time for businesses to innovate and adapt to the new environment. After all, no one knows how long this event will last or how the business world will operate post-pandemic.
How will you approach holiday marketing in 2020? Will you innovate or crash and burn under the pressure?
Here are some mistakes to avoid when planning your holiday marketing strategy.
#1. Cutting marketing investment
As I alluded to above, cutting your marketing budget is a slippery slope.
Sure, you’ll save money on face value. However, you’ll also miss opportunities to grow.
It sounds counterintuitive to deal with an economic firestorm by investing money in marketing, but that’s exactly what I’m suggesting.
The only way the economy will recover and come out the other side is if businesses are willing to take some chances. Consumers are still spending money, especially online. As much as disposable income has been reduced, many people are simply reinvesting the money they may have spent on travel or eating out through other means.
Of course, where you spend your marketing dollars may be a little different this year – think digital – but just as so many other businesses slash budgets, it creates an opportunity for you to steal market share and make the most of a bad situation.
#2. Not innovating
Social distancing may mean that in-person events, local markets, and physical retail stores are limited in how they operate. But nothing is stopping brands in a digital world.
Now, more than ever is a great time to innovate and unearth unique online channels for marketing your brand.
Perhaps you’ve run in-person events or trade shows in the past, why not make them virtual this year? Or, maybe you’ve got a yearly flyer with holiday promotions, this could turn into an instant-win social media giveaway.
For example, Precious Moments used a Christmas Instant Win Giveaway to generate 22,000 leads:
Christmas Instant Win Giveaway
I’m not suggesting you throw the baby out with the bathwater and abandon all traditional holiday marketing techniques, but it’s definitely time to innovate and spend more dollars in digital.
#3. Eliminating traditional marketing techniques
Sure, invest in digital. But don’t give up on offline marketing either.
Even though you may shy away from big trade shows or conferences, you can still sync your digital and offline marketing efforts with a little bit of creative thinking.
For example, perhaps you’ll treat your biggest customers to a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas dinner in December (with social distancing, of course). Or maybe you’ll go ahead with that flyer and switch the in-store coupons for QR codes taking people straight to your online store.
“Social distancing” doesn’t have to mean complete disconnection, but it will require some out-of-the-box thinking and innovative strategies to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
#4. Neglecting new channels of distribution
If your business relies heavily on offline distribution channels, such as retail shops, markets, events, or in-person meetings, you’ll have no choice but to identify new ways to sell your goods and services.
There are numerous online retail marketplaces, such as Etsy or Amazon, where you could expand your customer reach if you sell physical products. For service-based businesses, you may need to tap into a new virtual distribution model, like we’ve seen many gyms do. Or for bars and restaurants, it may be tapping into distribution opportunities such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, or other online marketplaces you can partner with.
DoorDash – a new channel for restaurants
To survive this holiday season of social distancing, many businesses will need to find different ways to deliver their products or services. Start searching for new opportunities!
#5. Forgetting about the human connection
When it comes down to it, humans still want to buy from humans. We crave that personal connection and touch. In fact, this innate desire is heightened now that many people have been restrained to their homes for extended periods without interacting with others on the daily.
It’s absolutely critical for businesses not to forget about the people on the other end of the credit card. This is something that could be easy to do if all your focus switches to digital innovation and finding new distribution channels.
Even if that final transaction is made in isolation via your website, find ways to connect with your customers and make your brand stand out and be memorable. Run live Q & A sessions on social media, reach out to customers personally after they purchase, or send handwritten thank you cards this holiday season. Find a way to connect in times of separation. You’ll be remembered for it.
#6. Going it alone
One thing about this pandemic is that we are all in it together. Countries, businesses, employees, politicians – everyone is affected in some way. So don’t go it alone.
Isolating your brand from the world and creating a marketing strategy in a vacuum is not going to shift the needle this year. As I said, go above and beyond to connect with your customers.
But don’t stop there. Seek out strategic partners, such as other complementary brands or influencers that you can share the psychological burden with. Bundle your products, run co-promoted social media contests, or share helpful information. Work together.
Create a social media contest landing page in minutes with one of ShortStack’s templates:
ShortStack Recipe Contest Template
Leave no stone unturned this holiday season as you attempt to come out the other side of the pandemic looking healthier than you entered it.
#7. Talking too much about the pandemic
Set some rules for the content you share via social media and other marketing platforms. Sure, don’t avoid the challenges and obstacles your customers are facing during this time. But also don’t harp on about just how hard it is.
The key is to show empathy about your customers’ situation without creating an ongoing feeling of fear or concern. Inspire hope, not fear.
People want to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you’ll support them along the way. Run initiatives that aid your community, give back, offer exclusive discounts, but don’t plaster your marketing channels with scary pandemic propaganda.
It may sound obvious, but it’s a subtle balancing act.
If I had to summarize this post in one sentence, it would be;
“Don’t let the pandemic hold you back this holiday season!”
Yes, we’re all facing never before seen obstacles, both psychologically and financially. However, if your brand can show empathy, be flexible, innovate, and aid the recovery of the economy, you’ll create lifelong brand advocates.
With every obstacle, there is an opportunity. Be the brand that takes it.
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