This is a guest post from Shilpi Tomar.
Whether you're preparing for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, the weekend after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
The National Retail Federation shows that holiday sales increased 3% (to $626.1 billion) last year. With a huge opportunity for profit, large retailers are fighting tooth and nail for consumers to spend their holiday budgets on their businesses.
The Black Friday craze is so competitive that some of these retailers have started announcing their Black Friday deals the day after Halloween. That's not even enough time for consumers to digest their Halloween candy.
To take on larger retailers who are looking to win over shoppers with low prices and free shipping, as a small and medium-sized business, you can turn to more personalized and creative ways to promote your store on a budget.
Here are just a few ideas that have worked for retailers in the past, that you can apply to your own store this holiday season.
1. Creatively Package Your Holiday Gift Boxes
Shoppers during this weekend are in a rush to find ready-made unique items to gift to their loved ones. Why not do the gift-wrapping work for them?
You’ll be relying on your loyal customer base to come to you for a one-of-a-kind gift set which will take some work off your already-busy customer’s hands. You can pre-package best-selling items ready to gift in beautifully designed cases, gift wrap, and boxes. The key here is to make sure the packaging is exciting enough for the shopper to want to gift as is.
According to this article from the Journal of Psychology & Marketing, consumers viewing beautiful packaging have had more intense brain activity than neutral packaging, as the article states “attractive packaging caused activity in the brain sections which correlate with rewards.”
Product packaging has a strong influence on how we feel about products, and should be valued even more strongly during the holiday season.
An example of beautiful ready-made gift boxes is global beauty brand Sephora’s “Giftopia” campaign with pre-packaged goodies of four to five popular items from the store. Sephora made gift-giving easy and selected the staff’s top picks in each box.
Check out their video here:
2. Make a Clever Holiday Video
An eye-catching video can make your brand stand out from the crowd. A small budget and a creative mind can go a long way when promoting your store, so if your video is distinctly humorous or clever enough and aligns with your brand you can have a recipe for a heavily-shared video.
You don’t need a big retailer budget for your video to get views (think of all those cat and baby videos). Focus on the idea that you are trying to convey along with relevancy to your audience, and the video will present itself perfectly.
Movie and show-streaming website Netflix did an incredible job last year providing a trailer for a fireplace. The idea was so simple and elegantly executed, that it racked up over 250,000 views. If you notice, the video only includes shots of the fireplace and “reviews” so the excuse of a low budget can’t be made on this one.
3. Focus On Pinterest
When used right, social media tool Pinterest is one of the most powerful tools to sell online and in-store. According to this recent infographic from image marketing & analytics tool Piqora, each “pin” a user attaches to his or her Pinterest boards is worth (on average) $0.78 in additional sales to the brand whose merchandise is featured. That’s almost an extra dollar worth of sales for each pin.
Major brands are using Pinterest by hosting contests, using rich pins, and even going cross-channel by including tags of most-pinned items in-store.
One example of an in-store use of Pinterest was Topshop’s “Dear Pinterest” campaign last year. The UK-based women’s fashion retailer used Pinterest to power its online gift guide. They attached oversized tags to the most pinned in-store merchandise, and included a giant touchscreen in Topshop New York and London, which allowed shoppers to pin while shopping in store.
They incentivized shoppers by including a contest in which users included #DearTopshop when pinning items from the retailer to add the item to their wishlist.
Not only did these ideas retain loyal shoppers, but also drove hefty amounts of traffic to their social sites. While the giant touch screen might not be feasible for every business, the Pinterest tags in-store and social media campaign can be used by anyone.
4. Partner Up With a Global Brand
Creating a strategic partnership with a global brand will boost exposure for both brands. When you cross-promote each other through blogs, social networks, and emails, you both reap the benefit of the partnership.
Brand marketing consultant Mike Berry, who has previously worked with Procter & Gamble, Ford, and Nestlé has seen immense advantages from partnerships: "There are huge benefits to be gained, including sharing customer bases, cross selling, adding interest using the other brand. If it's done as a contra deal, it can even be free, a true win-win situation" from Virgin Entrepreneur.
Big brands team up with smaller brands to reach a fresh new audience for their store. A small brand can bring in originality that the big brand may want, and the big brand will help bring exposure to the smaller brand through promotion.
A great example of this is the GAP x VSCO partnership, in which the global clothing retailer Gap teamed up with the creative community from the photo editing and sharing app, VSCO to bring back authenticity to their brand.
For the "Make Love" campaign, Gap let VSCO users pose as both models and photographers with Gap’s holiday-themed merchandise for an entire day. These influencers completed a photo assignment wearing Gap’s warm knits, metallic colors and fuzzy textures from their holiday collection. The influencers also had substantial followings on both Tumblr and Instagram, so shared on those platforms as well.
5. Build Valuable Content Around Your Products
One of the best ways to market your store is to create valuable content around the product(s) you’re selling. You can encourage you customers to share blog posts, articles, social media posts and emails organically by providing them content they can actually use.
Whether it’s different ways of styling a winter wardrobe, creative ways to design an apartment with the vases from your store, or creating new cupcake recipes with your chocolates, you can engage your customers with your products before giving them a hard sell.
Global research and advisory firm, Forrester Research gives four C's of framework for effective use of content for brand building:
- Capture the brand's North Star in branded content
- Connect to your consumers in context
- Create visible value through the content
- Continuously measure and optimize results”
Chocolate brand Ghiradelli’s ‘Tis the Season for Squaring holiday campaign that incorporated a pioneering content strategy. They gave their users gift ideas, recipes and decorating projects to use with their world-famous Ghiradelli squares.
The customer was then able to discover novel ways to incorporate the product in their holiday preparation before they went into their store to buy it.
Lastly, Just Get Started
You don’t need to have a big budget to compete with the large retailers. With the big shopping weekend just around the corner (literally), you have can incorporate, combine, or get inspired by any of these five (small budget) marketing campaigns to prepare for the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
Have more ideas for your holiday campaign? We want to hear how you’re creatively promoting your store. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.
About the Author
Shilpi Tomar is a content strategist and copywriter for creative brands. Get more from her on Twitter.