Just about everyone on the planet can feel overwhelmed during the holidays. Most of us are busy in everyday life, but for a few months at the end of the year we add in a heaping helping of decorating, shopping, cooking, traveling, and general stress to our lives. And we’re happy to do it, because there is no other feeling quite like getting somewhere warm and shaking off the snow, knowing you’re protected from the cold, and partaking in a home cooked meal surrounded by the people in your life that matter most. Also, presents.
With all of that going on, it can be easy to lose your grip on other, seemingly less important things. For example, who wants to focus on customer retention when you're still figuring out what the perfect gift would be for Uncle Frank? But the truth is, keeping your business at the forefront of your thoughts during this time of year is one of the most important things you can do. It might be obvious to some, but studies show how ready to buy consumers are at the end of the year. And with the proven benefits customer retention can have for your entire business, figuring out how to best connect with your customers during the holidays can be one of the more important business decisions you make going into the new year.
So in this three-part series, I'm going to go over some examples of things you can do to ensure your customers have you on their mind over the holidays. Starting with - and you may have guessed this from the title - social media.
Go Where The People Are
Social media networks are way more active over the holidays, because that's really what they're all about: connection. So of course family and friends will be talking to each other more, planning parties, sharing recipes, just catching up, it's where people are going to be - so you should be there too.
This isn't about making a sale or getting a new customer (it totally is, but that's not what your goal should be right now), it's about showing you’ve got the same things on your mind as everyone else. You should be asking yourself the following questions when you're prepping your company's holiday marketing campaign:
- What service can I provide my customers to make their lives a little easier?
- Do they have a reason to view my content this time of year?
- Will my plans eventually benefit the business?
If you can come up with a campaign or two that at least answers the above questions in a meaningful way, you're just about there. But I know you're still thinking about that gift for Uncle Frank, so I went ahead and wrote down some of the marketing ideas I came up with for you. Let's dive in.
Inspire Your Customers
The things your customers are stressed about late in the year are probably very similar to the things you're stressed about in your personal life. They're wondering what to bring to that one potluck, what gifts to buy for their loved ones, how to decorate in a way that's festive but doesn't take an entire weekend to finish. So, try to help them out a little with a bit of inspiration.
Your holiday campaigns could contain lists of fun gift ideas on a budget (and if some of those items were available to purchase through your company, who would complain?), you don't even have to do the research yourself, you could ask employees to send in their own ideas and do a little team building while simultaneously helping your customers.
The same thing can be done with decoration ideas, or quick holiday recipes. The most important thing to remember is that your job is to make your customer's lives easier. Because if you can take some stress away from them, they're more likely to get into the holiday spirit, and spread the word of your very helpful post, increasing your social media presence. A social media present, if you will.
But what if you wanted a little more interaction with your customers? If you really want to generate those comment threads and make an impression, you'll need to think of something that starts a discussion. Something that can spread like wildfire.
Give a Little, Get a Lot
The need people feel to connect is how social media got so popular. We want to reach out, we want to be heard, we want to communicate. It's why Liking, Sharing, and Retweeting help spread information as well as they do. And you can use that in your business to strengthen the relationship between you and your customers.
For example, take something people love doing during the holidays. It can be a classic tradition or more of a modern fad - like wearing ugly Christmas sweaters - and turn it into a contest or challenge under your business' social media account. If people respond to the idea, or if you have a good enough incentive, you won't need to do much aside from the initial kick-off. Your customers will be spreading your business name around the internet for you, by showing off their favorite ugly sweater, and sharing that with their friends and family. Of course, it's a good idea to keep a close eye on posts like that and play an active role when people decide to participate. It's always more rewarding to receive some kind of feedback when you put yourself out there, and your customers feel the same way.
You might have noticed I used the word 'incentive' up there. It might seem counterintuitive to give something away when you want to make a sale, but even the smallest prize might be enough for someone to decide to jump into your post, and you never know when a single interaction will have the ripple effect you're looking for to go viral. Plus, if everyone's going to see me all dressed up in my holiday worst, I'd really like to get something out of it.
But maybe you're not looking for that kind of customer interaction. Maybe you're looking for something a little more personal, something to show your customers that you know what they're going through during the holidays because you're going through it too. That we're all together, simultaneously hating and loving everything that comes along with festive cheer.
The Personal Touch
Unless you've already made it a priority, you may have found yourself falling into the trap of putting a little too much corporate speak into your company's social media (unlike Wendy's, one of our favorites). There's nothing inherently wrong with that, you do represent a company after all, and your followers might specifically be looking for the kinds of promotions and updates you post regularly. But if you want to raise user engagement, it might be fun to try something a little different. And really, what better time of year to do it?
All you need to do is answer one simple question: What is your company doing for the holidays? Anything from a potluck to charity donations to office decorations will help spark customer interaction. Just let them know that even in the corporate world, everyone's getting excited for the holidays.
Hopefully now you're feeling ready to take on the next couple months like a champ, and inspired to keep your customers in mind while you do. I did promise three parts to this series though, and you won't have to wait long for the next one. Part 2 will cover sales specific information to help you brainstorm how to take advantage of the increased shopping needs that pop up this time of year.