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Time to start planning for (next) Christmas?

by Steve Braden

Time to start planning for (next) Christmas?

So Christmas is over, and the need to start each telephone conversation with ‘Happy New Year’ has already faded.

This was a blog which I intended to write before Christmas, but the truth is we were super-busy servicing clients at a time when we might have expected to be winding down for the holidays. Why?

Firstly, we were actioning last-minute Christmas promotions. Secondly, we were getting prepared to hit the ground running for those clients with a ‘new year, new campaign’ action plan. And lastly, of course, we were trying to squeeze a month’s activity into a reduced number of working days.

All of which set me thinking about the value and wisdom of relating campaigns and other communications to seasonal events. Obviously, for retailers, the Christmas period is absolutely crucial and will make or break their year (as Morrisons have recently been discovering). Likewise, for anyone offering seasonal products.

But what about, for example, business to business clients offering ‘special seasonal discounts’ on year-round products and services? Why does it matter if a new campaign, or a new website, is launched at the beginning of January rather than the middle of February?

Here’s a few reasons:

It helps to make a company’s communications feel current, which in turn creates a sense of urgency and immediacy for the recipient. ‘Read me now’ rather than ‘save me for later.’ Of course, the flip side of this is that it will make that communication feel dated very quickly – so if you’re going this route, best not apply it to generic communications that require a long shelf life.

It helps to make communications relevant, linking them to the outside world and the recipient’s personal experience. And this, of course, helps to engage the reader.

It can create an easy theme – something to hang the message around. DFS always seem to have a sale on, but you’ll notice that it’s always branded as a ‘Bank Holiday Sale’, an ‘Easter Extravaganza’ etc.

Lastly, planning communications around seasonal events – or perhaps big sporting occasions, such as Wimbledon or the World Cup – helps to impose a structure on a company’s marketing activity and avoid deadlines drifting and opportunities being missed. I’ve lost count of the number of occasions when a client has intended to spread their activity (and annual budget) across a number of campaigns throughout the year, only to find that – as deadlines slip by – one activity gets merged into the next. Which do you think is more effective: a quarterly 16 page newsletter, or a 32 page newsletter which only gets distributed twice a year?

So, the message is: start planning. Now. For Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Summer and – yes – even next Christmas.



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