It does not matter what you are in your small business for; Christmas is that time of year when you should be ensuring that your advertising strategy encompasses this deeply religious and equally commercial time of year.
Christmas is not all about "Santa Claus and the Coke Lorry", garish red decorations shining at you from every corner of the office or the office party and that photograph taken on the photocopier. There are some effective ways that you can promote Christmas to your customers in that special way; making them remember you in the New Year when you might not be able to offer the magical January sales that your country-wide competitors might.
We will take a look at some simple and inexpensive ideas to make your busines stand out just a little bit more and hopefully show that you can even get your customers working for you.
Santa is not just Claus
I doubt that I need to prove that during November, those Coca-Cola adverts will start again. We all know that holidays are coming and that it means the large red lorries will soon be coming over the brow of the hill. The commercialisation of Christmas actually started in the late 1800's and by 1931 was a feature on the formerly cocaine-based sugary drink
So why not place a little emphasis elsewhere. Santa Claus commercially has many helpers, from his wife Mrs Claus to the elves and reindeer. It is not always necessary to use a middle-aged man in a red suit to get your point across and many businesses already use images of other commercialised characters on the Christmas theme. You may also removing yourself from the secular advertising and using images from popular interpretations of the Bible such as the nativity; of course many examples across many religious cultures exist and we are not just restricted to Christianity.
It is wise to point out however that there is a lot of sympathy with the figureheads of Christmas. If you have any children then this will already be readily apparent and it would be wise to remember that if you do deviate from the norm you may find that you could isolate yourself from a number of your customers. The Advertising Standards Agency do state that although they do receive complaints that some adverts will make children question the existence of Father Christmas, there is nothing to stop you doing so.
Advertising is not just about preaching
The budget for small business advertising can be tight. It's not always possible to buy the content you need or pay for a professional to produce your marketing; but at the same time you still have your festive customers who might be able to do it for you. The toy industry will force the price of advertising up in the lead to Christmas as they try to get prominence on every childs wish-list.
Unless you are a very new start-up then you will have some happy customers already using your products. This is a perfect opportunity for a christmas competition; getting your customers to willingly (or at least with a small prize bribe) to send in their shots of your product or logo on the Christmas tree or abreast a freshly cooked Christmas turkey. With the right terms and conditions on your competition, these shots could alway be used on your website or to decorate your premises to draw customers in; as well as drawing new customers to your small business who are more interested in winning something for nothing.
Christmas is also the time to give thanks and the perfect time is when almost all the country closes down for 36 hours. Encouraging customers to join you in 2012 is a good time to say thank you to them for their custom in 2011 and a simple thank-you poster or incorporating a thank you into your online logo will not cost a lot, but will make those customers feel slightly special.
The small business could take this one step further, sending personal thanks to customers who are relatively regular customers; or a more belated thanks to those that have stopped has a chance of gaining some extra business either before or after the festive celebrations.
Advertising is making things
What is shocking is that some independent retailers take the attitude that they can put products on a shelf and they will sell. This may be true in markets such as food or petrol but when it comes to presents then there is an expectation of a little finesse.
Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:SeeteufelWhen it comes to make up and toiletries the Christmas market has already been found. Most of the deodorant makers seem to be able to put a premium on putting a can in a box with a handkerchief and increasing the mark up. The Christmas-Present-Consumer will more readily buy a Lynx Gift Pack for a present than a can of Lynx and a cheap leatherette wallet!
Small businesses can take advantage of that with a few small adjustments. Inexpensive baskets and some can turn a few products into a gift basket and for a minimal amount of time and cost investment a gift may become more appealing. Of course the vast majority of your services sector such as pubs, restaurants and other social venues are more likely to have already got Christmas menus in place in that respect.
Small business of course has to ensure that it will remain financially viable. I would not recommend blindly for lots of money to be spent with little hope of any return. It is possible though for flexbility and even the chance to re-arrange the way you are displayed to reap the rewards and pennies in the bank account.