Chloë H Ward
Get your business ready for Christmas
It may only be early summer (and with the year we’ve had you could be forgiven for pushing Christmas to the back of your mind) but get ahead with planning your comms strategy for Christmas and you could really reap the rewards – both in terms of raising your profile and increasing sales.
Plus…plan now and you can concentrate on fulfilling orders and ensure YOU have a more relaxed festive season yourself!
Get ready for every type of comms
First thing is first – you need to decide the different ways you are going to communicate with customers prior to Christmas.
Create a table – how many columns it is will depend on how long you plan to be working on Christmas for but to keep this example simple, let’s say you’re working on Christmas from July onwards, it would have six columns in order to plan monthly or 24 if you’re creating a weekly plan.
Plan backwards so in the last column you’d write the date you will stop sending out orders or selling tickets.
Complete your plan by thinking about what you want to do when. For example, will you send out a newsletter to your existing customer base the week after schools go back in September? If it’s going to mention Christmas, how will you entice them to purchase early? (Perhaps with an early-bird discount?)
Will you really ramp up social media at the end of October? Or are you able to look back at previous years to see when you received the most website visits pre-Christmas?
This table demonstrates the busiest Christmas shopping days online in the UK.
Keep reading for ideas as to what to add to your plan!
To achieve any of the below you’re going to need some really great, stand-out hi-res images. Once you know what your lead products or range will be for Christmas, commission a professional photographer to come and get a range of images for you.
Make sure you organise:
Cut-out images (where the product is against a white background with nothing else around it)
Flat-lay images (where the product is photographed from above)
Context images (where the photo doesn’t feature people, but has more context around it, a hand-soap placed on a sink for example)
Lifestyle images (where the product is featured in context, with people who look like your target market, the soap being used by a woman, for example)
A portrait photo of you and one of you at work.
Save all these photos with meaningful file names (ie not just IMG 1501) and the photographer credit if needed.
Depending on what you use these images for you may need different file sizes, so keep reading then discuss this with your photographer prior to the shoot.
Get media coverage
Long-lead media such as glossy magazines, newspaper supplements and TV, are already beginning work on Christmas content.
Gift guides –Before you rush in gung-ho sending samples out and pitching to press, think about the kind of gift guide your target market might read. Is your audience mainly online and will only see ones compiled by bloggers and influencers? In which case you have a little more time to get products and images to them.
If, however, you want to feature in glossy magazines, on TV or in newspaper supplements, work begins on these in the summer, with many signed off by the end of July.
For print media, a good place to start is to have a look at gift guides from last year (simply Google!) and note the name of the writers who compiled them. Assuming you don’t have that person’s contact from working in the industry, can’t employ a PR professional or are not part of a PR database then look for that person on Twitter and other social networks. Then, politely get in touch to see if they’re working on the same thing this year with details of the product you think would work as copied and pasted from your media pack:
Have your media pack ready to go. This should simply feature a very short paragraph about the product or event, a purchase price, a link to your website and a query as to where to send a product sample to if they are interested. Include all of this information in the body of your email and attach an image that is no more than 2MB large. Remember, if the writer wants any more information – they’ll be in touch.
It’s a good idea to have a Dropbox or similar link to the rest of your images in case this is requested from you. Remember though that all writers and editors are different and while some may request a link, others might request a specific type of picture and in this case, send them that as an attachment don’t expect them to wade through images.
Keep going! While it is important not to pester media, there’s more than one title you can pitch to, so once you’ve got your media pack ready invest time in contacting different titles and freelancers.
If you’ve been collecting people’s emails for a regular newsletter but never have time to actually send anything out, then start now. This might be something as simple as saying hello and linking to your latest blog post. The reason I recommend starting now is because you don’t want to simply hit people’s inboxes when you’ve got lots to sell – you want to engage your won-over customers first.
If you want to grow your subscriber list in time for Christmas, then think about including an offer when people sign up to your newsletter over summer. For example, a 15% off code when people subscribe in July, August and September.
Then, when it comes to planning for Christmas, plan newsletter send dates around how your sales work. For example, send out a newsletter in late September urging people to picture how good they will feel to start their Christmas shopping early. Then plan at least one a month which features a key product. Perhaps you know that certain products in your range sell earlier than others – that’s fine, go with the patterns you’ve seen before.
In a similar way to press, start making a list of people on social media you’d like to gift products to. Then contact them first to ask where to send the products and to start a conversation about what you may get in return – don’t assume you’ll have a post dedicated to your business. Weigh up what the return might be for the cost of your product and time. For example, if your product is high-price, you may want to focus on contacting bigger influencers and their agents. One feature could be well worth the cost of your product. However, if you have a lower price item you want to push, then it might be worth your while contacting a larger number of micro and medium influencers.
If you get responses and addresses then this is where your images come in handy, respond letting them know the product is on their way and also attach your flat-lay and context images so they can use them if they want to – as well as the one of you at work! You never know how they might be used and what exposure it could give you!
For the main, always try to find an email contact rather than DMing a person. These people might get several hundred DMs a day and taking the time to find the right contact and email address can really pay off – it lets the person know you are serious.
If gaining media coverage or composing your newsletter is something you feel you need help with, then subscribe to the Comms Kick newsletter, Drop Kick, to receive tips and for details of availability.