Love it or hate it, it’s time we talked about the ‘C’ word. Celebrated by over 160 countries across the world, Christmas is the most important period in the financial calendar for many B2C retailers.
But what if you’re a B2B marketer, does it also present an opportunity for you too?
The Christmas campaign battle
Unless you live in a cave and never come out, it’s impossible to avoid the Christmas holiday hype. From October (or even earlier in some cases) shops will start displaying cards, decorations and festive treats, while our TV screens gradually fill with seasonal films and adverts.
In recent years, the Christmas ad campaigns of major retailers have been the subject of much discussion - and with investment in their production and distribution reaching £10million+ in some cases, it’s a serious business.
Department store John Lewis is a prime example of a brand that has consistently been a winner in the Christmas campaign stakes. The annual unveiling of the company’s latest festive masterpiece is now a highly anticipated event. And according to newspaper the Independent, John Lewis estimates that since 2012 its sales have increased more than 35 percent thanks to the success of its Christmas advertising.
So, for B2C marketers, Christmas is key. Substantial sums of money are invested in driving as much revenue as possible and grabbing a larger slice of the festive pie.
But what if you’re a B2B organization? Can seasonal campaigns be just as effective at helping you to grow your customer base and strengthen your bottom line?
The answer is – it depends.
When it comes to lead generation:
- On the one hand, it’s a great excuse to get creative with a feel good campaign and to cash in on that positive festive spirit.
- On the other, you’ll be up against a lot of competition coming from all angles, so it will take considerable thought and a quality idea to make yourself stand out.
- Also bear in mind that trying to capitalize on the Christmas holiday as an excuse to push your product may not be taken positively by many. Sometimes, doing something nice for no reason other than to spread a little Christmas cheer is the best way to go.
Of course, it’s not all about lead generation. A Christmas campaign can help you keep in touch with existing customers and make them feel special and thought of. It can work in the same way for your supply chain and other stakeholders, helping to strengthen those relationships.
Ways to capitalize on Christmas if you’re a B2B marketer
One of the best places to start when it comes to devising a seasonal campaign, is to look at what is working for others. A lot can be learned from expensive B2C campaigns. What they all have in common is an emotive angle that pulls on the heartstrings. It’s about creating a ‘feel good’ vibe.
You may be aiming at businesses with a business-related product but never forget that your target buyers are people. By creating a warm and fuzzy feeling in a way that shows off your professionalism, personality and what it may be like to work with you, you’ll be half way through the door.
Just never forget the golden rule…
This may seem an obvious point, but whatever you send out needs to be good. When budgets are at stake, it can sometimes be tempting to go for a low cost solution, but having a poor quality gift land on the desk of a potential prospect won’t do you any favors. It won’t make a good impression and what’s the point of sending something that goes straight in the bin? Your aim here is to raise awareness and stand out from the crowd – in a positive way.
If you’re sending out branded gifts, then plan ahead so you can get hold of samples before ordering. Think how the items feel, how they’ll be presented and also how they’ll be delivered. Hand delivering your gifts can be a great way to go, if you’re in the same area.
Five top tips
- Don’t be afraid to get creative – in fact, it’s a must if you want to stand out and make an impression
- Plan ahead – you need to be planning your campaign far in advance. This will help you shop around and find the best deals without a tight deadline looming over you
- Consider having a tiered campaign – if you have a very limited budget, try and be strategic with your budget by sending different levels of gifts to key accounts
- Take an account based marketing approach – like any other campaign, if you take an ABM approach and tailor gifts to individual customers, you’re more likely to make an impact. Personalization is the key. Get names right and show you really listen.
- Don’t forget about existing customers – remember it will always be easier to retain and grow business from existing customers than landing new ones, so don’t neglect them!
Festive lead generation ideas
So, what kind of thing could you do? Here are some ideas, from low to high budget.
1. Christmas cards – if you do nothing else, then make sure you send a card. Even if you are sending a gift, always accompany it with a card. In recent years, it’s been increasingly common for firms to send out e-cards (which do have better environmental credentials). A digital card can be impactful, just in different ways. For example, consider using animation of some kind. And always do thorough testing before sending it out. Whichever route you take, the end card needs to look great.
2. Bespoke chocolate stirrers – add a sweet treat in with your card in the form of branded hot chocolate stirrers. They are a little different, festive and with a multipack will be easy for sharing out amongst a team. If they can be made with a seasonal flavor twist, then all the better.
3. Branded desk calendars – harder to capture the Christmas spirit here and these won’t be right for everyone, but if they’re well made and genuinely useful you could find they live on a prospect’s desk for some time. Keep the branding to a minimum but make sure it’s clear. The overall usefulness of the product is the most important thing.
4. Branded diaries – in a similar way, you may also consider producing branded diaries. Again, they’ll need to be great quality if they’re going to be used. By Christmas, many workers will already have a new one, so the timing isn’t that great either. But if it’s smarter and better than what they’ve got, they’ll use it. As part of the design, you should have the option to create some internal pages too. If appropriate, put some helpful company info inside and think what other information might be valuable to a prospect and so worth including.
5. Bespoke advent calendar – if you have more budget to play with, you could get a bespoke, professionally designed advent calendar made. This could serve a dual purpose of being a unique, stand out item and a way to start cementing a relationship. For example, if you share nuggets of information about team members and the company behind each door, this will show off the people behind the product and could be a great talking point.
6. Indoor plants – from plants that help purify the air, to a seasonal poinsettia in a branded pot, indoor plants can make a unique gift that’s longer lasting than edible items and more personal than branded stationary.
7. Hampers – available in all shapes and sizes (you could even opt for a fruit basket if you wanted). If you know your prospect well and, for example, it’s a team working in the office together, then a hamper is good for sharing and making sure everyone is included. If you know your buyer likes something in particular, then include it and flag it up so they know you’ve really thought about it. A range of goods is usually more impactful and will be more memorable than sending a standard box of chocolates or biscuits.
8. Join a club/subscription – look for cool subscriptions. There is a company in the US that will deliver a complete gourmet breakfast to an office, at set intervals. For example, once a month or once every three months depending on the subscription chosen. Membership to a ‘club’ of this nature can be an unusual and lasting gift.
The key is showing you understand your buyers and what makes them tick. If you’re not sure yet as it’s early days, then stick to something ‘safe’ and just ensure you personalise it as much as you can.
And you know what we said about being creative – well it takes all types! There’s a PR-agency in the UK that sends the bosses of its most valuable accounts a whole salmon each Christmas. Definitely something that will be remembered!