Christmas content unwrapped

As a Christmas tragic and advertising fanatic, December is one of my favourite times of the year.

Providing endless opportunities to overindulge (with a mere “it’s Christmas!” as an excuse), December also signals the arrival of some of the year’s most novel advertising campaigns.

Sadly, the majority of us don’t have the big bucks to pull off a bells-and-whistles TVC, like this cracker from Aldi.

But taking the time to devise a smart, strategic and creative content plan that leverages the festive season is a great way to make Christmas come early for your brand, and increase your share of mind (and share of wallet) at the most wonderful time of year.

The importance of Christmas content

At a time when so many brands are vying for consumer attention, you’d be right to question whether it’s worth adding to the noise (and I’m not just referring to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You on repeat).

(You’re welcome).

But businesses can’t ignore the stats: Australians are prepped and primed to spend, spend, spend at this time of year – and by taking a back seat, your brand could miss out on a valuable opportunity to boost awareness and sales.

A study by McCrindle investigating Aussie sentiment toward the Christmas season found while the top thing we look forward to during this time of year is spending time with family and friends, 44 per cent of us also said that shopping, gift-giving and the Boxing Day sales is what they look forward to most…yep, we’re a nation of shopaholics.

In fact, a survey by finder.com.au found total spending over the festive season in Australia is projected to hit a staggering $25 billion, not just on gifts – but also on food, travel and decorations as Christmas rapidly approaches.

But it’s not all about B2C, this time of year also provides B2Bs, government and not-for-profits the chance to tap into the true meaning of Christmas, by thanking customers and suppliers for their support over the year (as well as providing another opportunity to promote your organisation!).

Christmas comes but once a year

Knowing when to roll-out your Christmas content is much like Christmas shopping: the later you leave it, all the best ideas (gifts!) will have been snagged by your competitors (fellow shoppers!), and you’ll be in a tizz hoping your content (that gift you gave grandpa!) isn’t a complete flop.

According to Denise Wyer, Head of Sales APAC at AdRoll, sooner is better than later when it comes to Christmas content.

“About 40 per cent of the Australian public start their Christmas shopping by the end of October, so you want to make sure that you’re in market while they’re in market,” she said.

The later you launch a campaign, the more you will pay for media too.

“October’s really the last month that you can take advantage of cheap CPMs. We see a jump of about 18 per cent in CPMs as you move into November, and close to a 20 per cent jump in CPCs over the Christmas period,” said Denise.

Plus, with the recent introduction of the November Black Friday sales and other online sale events at this time, consumer spending in the weeks leading up to Christmas has been declining.

Launching your content sooner gives you the best chance of catching consumers when they’re in market.

Cut through the clutter

When it comes to Christmas content, it’s essential to develop messaging that will cut through the clutter.

Here in Australia, we’re incredibly lucky to live in a very religiously diverse country.

While there may be some debate about the Christmas story and its place in modern Australian society, the McCrindle survey showed that the majority of Australian’s don’t want to lose the true meaning of Christmas.

Over four in five Australians – 85 per cent – prefer the traditional greeting of “Merry Christmas”, compared to more neutral salutations like “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”. This is particularly true of older generations, compared to Generation Z and Y.

Once you’ve decided on the Christmas salutations appropriate for your brand or organisation’s audience, it’s important to apply the usual rules of communication to all content development – ensure your messaging is clear, concise and accurate, reflects your brand’s tone of voice, and avoids generic terms and phrases.

Now is the perfect time for your brand to get creative, developing bright, fun, warm, and sincere content that resonates with your audience, and says something about what you do, or sell.

Developing your Christmas content plan

As with all content plans, it’s important to identify your goals and objectives before deciding on tactics and creative strategies.

Is it sales? Is it to build goodwill amongst your clients, customers or suppliers? Is it to grow your social media following or email database?

These objectives will help inform which tactics you engage. Broadly speaking, your Christmas content should appeal to holiday emotions, build anticipation, and be personal and shareable.

According to Forbes, people feel more uplifted and excited in the lead up to the Christmas season.

So, think about developing positive, inspirational, aspirational and helpful content, particularly via blogs or news articles on your website.

For example, if you’re in the food or beverage business, post a guide to the perfect summer food and wine pairings, while not-for-profits could share heartfelt stories about their impact throughout the year. Blogs also have the added benefit of driving traffic to your website, by boosting SEO.

If you’re after sales growth, building anticipation is an excellent communications tactic – particularly when rolled out across EDMs and social media.

We’re all time-poor and under pressure at this time of year, so make your subscribers’ lives easy by stuffing your EDMs with useful content (see above!) and special offers. Give them an incentive to open your email, and reward them when they do, with Christmas or summer-related announcements, special discounts or gifts.

Themed email campaigns are also particularly effective at this time of year. You could try an advent calendar style approach (a new email each day leading up to Christmas), or a ’12 days of Christmas series’. These concepts can be easily applied to social media too.

Personalisation is key to making your customers or clients feel appreciated, and helps to increase their emotional bond with your brand. Depending on the size of your business, personalisation could be as simple as handwriting the message inside your Christmas cards each year.

Don’t forget PR

Just like batteries on Christmas morning, don’t let PR be forgotten!

The Christmas and summer holiday break present endless opportunities for your brand to harness PR, by creating pitches and stories relevant to the season.

Already, media outlets are busy planning and producing stories for the quieter summer period – and stories on Christmas gifts, travel guides, or a heart-warming holiday story go down a treat.

With many newsrooms operating with skeleton staff during the December and January period, television stations will pre-record “soft” news stories throughout October and November. So, to increase your chance of pick-up, pitch your story to the News Desk as early as possible.