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How To Create The Right Content For Your Holiday Campaign

The holidays are basically here.  So to help you cut through the holiday marketing clutter and win customers (you may even get a vacation out of it), I will show you a step-by-step framework for a creative, content-focused, holiday campaign, that will move the needle and help you generate more leads than you have in the past.

I seriously heart the holidays.  From October through January 1st, I am basking in the glory of holiday cheer and festivities.  However, it is also a very stressful time of year for both customers and businesses.  And in order to avoid going crazy this year, you must have a plan in place that does not include throwing out promo codes and spamming customers on social media.  With everyone under an insurmountable amount of pressure, the question you should ask yourself is, “How do I make purchasing from my business a fun, easy and pleasant experience, so my customer wants to buy from me?”

Amazon always leads the pack in this area.  They know how to do everything right, and it is definitely the easiest place to buy gifts or anything else that is needed for the holidays.  They really understand the basic needs of their customer, which is making it less stressful to shop, and having everything you need at your fingertips within 2 days or less.

Now, most businesses do not have the bandwidth or resources to accomplish what Amazon is doing.  At least not yet.  But let it serve as an inspiration, and pull cues from them when it comes to addressing what the customer really wants from your business during this time of hustle, bustle, and mayhem.

This brings me to the question we all have.  There is so much noise around this time of year, how do I truly stand out?  Always give value first. Make your potential customer smile.  Be human.  Surprise and delight them.

But, before we get into examples of great holiday campaigns and the framework for planning a great campaign, let’s look at the numbers first.  This will provide a good foundation for your approach.

How are people shopping this year?  Well, according to PwC’s 2016 Holiday Outlook, shopping on mobile devices will increase by 25%.  Generation Z is into mobile and social shopping. No surprise, here. They prefer more tangible products than Millennial parents who prefer experiences, but they are also shopping mobile as well, and planning their gift-giving ahead of time.  And there is always a deal somewhere.  Forbes says, “Low price is the top priority for 83% of shoppers, followed by the lure of deals and promotions (65 percent).”  And “In the spirit of the season, a substantial majority of shoppers (75%) are donating cash, toys, food, and volunteer hours to their favorite causes. Of those donating cash, the average contribution is $244.”

Based on the stats above, where do you think your core customer falls?  Are they majority Gen Z or Millennials?  Do they care more about sustainability or giving back rather than a promo code?  Are you able to provide heavy discounts around Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Here are two examples of holiday campaigns that really do a great job with creative content that people want to share.

Envious examples.

#MulberryMiracle

Although a little controversial, the #MulberryMiracle video is spot on.  It is funny, and it highlights one of their best selling handbags.  When a video makes you laugh, it can also make you want to take action -  like sharing on Facebook with your friends, or hopefully, shop that particular brand.

#Lushoween

And since it is Halloween week, I HAD to highlight LUSH Cosmetics freaking (no pun intended) genius #lushoween campaign.  If you follow me on Instagram, I posted one of their uber-creative videos. Check out the engagement!

Using a mix of creative video and photographs really helps to spread the word fast.  But, you can’t forget to include some type of offer and call-to-action.  The above brands had the customers attention, and if they included a great offer, more leads would roll in.

Setting up  a kick-a** campaign.

Before you sit down to map out your campaign, and utilize resources, make sure your content has a goal or objective to either solve a problem that usually happens around the holidays (ex., easy last-minute packing guide for the minimalist traveler),  or offering a deal that is truly what your customer wants (50% off all liquid lipsticks for 48 hours).  Or lastly, identifying how you can make your target audience’s lives a lot easier (offer a list of products that can be shipped within  2-days along with free returns or free wrapping).

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the fun part begins!  There are a few things to consider when setting up your holiday campaign plan.  Identify if your focus will be Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Take a look at what’s trending this holiday season, and if it falls in line with what you offer, create some language around those particular trends.

Tap deal websites and apps.

Many customers are searching a ton of apps and sites for the best deals, so it’s imperative that you have a presence on a few that are relevant to your business.  I highly recommend you include free shipping or a dirt cheap 2-day shipping if you can afford the hit.

Sweepstakes and contests are always fun.  

Do you want to create a sweepstakes or contest during this time to get your leads (potential customers) and current customers super excited?  Maybe collaborate with another brand or service, or media outlet on this.  Refinery29 is always running contests with brands, but also tap into smaller niche publishers as well. 

Map out your calendar.

 Plan your calendar around right after Thanksgiving dinner when everyone is on their mobile devices and laptops. Consider the time-zones of your most engaged audience and frequent buyers.  Remember, everyone is in a good mood around this time, so milk it.  And even for those not in a good mood, and possibly home alone, they will want to get in some good retail therapy too.

Let someone else do the work, but you have to pay for it.  

Collaborate with an influencer that aligns with your branding.  This can take some of the pressure off posting consistent social content during the campaign.  Circling back to incorporating a sweepstakes or contest, create one that enforces user-generated content (UGC).  In real life speak?  Require customers to create a piece of content to be entered to win.  And kick it off with a paid influencer, requiring the influencer to post once a week over a two-week period.  Voila, watch the leads roll in!

 

Distribution is key.

Now you want everyone to see all the hard work you put into creating your compelling content and offer.  Having a well thought-out plan on how you will get the word out about your holiday offerings is probably the most important part.  Decide when and where you will post on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterest.  And don’t forget about setting a little money aside to do some Facebook and Instagram ads.  Boosting a post your influencer created, along with your 50% off code on all dresses or liquid lipsticks, will make a huge impact.  Just remember to optimize your call-to-actions and landing pages, so you can successfully turn your leads into paying customers.

The holidays don’t have to be overwhelming.  Once you take inventory of your creative financial resources and staff hours, you can create a really cool and effective campaign no matter how limited or unlimited your assets are.  You can capitalize on holiday spending and get more customers.

Need another brain to collaborate with you to create a winning holiday campaign?  Hit the button below and schedule a FREE consultation.

How To Use Brand Transparency In Your Online Marketing

everlane transparency online marketing strategy

I remember when I first started working in the real world, I needed to supplement my income ASAP.  I was fresh out of college and the recession was in full effect.  I was working at a fledgling PR job at $10/hour and started working with a small fashion e-com on the side. I don’t even remember how I landed this gig, but she was an awesome client, and for a 22-year-old, the money was great. I was able to develop my skills independently from my job.  But the one thing that made working with her rewarding and that stood out to me, was her vision (as she was ahead of the game with her blog) and her willingness to be transparent about her life and journey.

Here’s an word for word excerpt from one of her quick emails:

“This business is 5.5 years a hobby…. And the last 8 months full time.
I am going through a divorce, with a waiver on alimony.
I gave away the house and the cars and walked out with only my business and 2 dogs. 
So the last 8 mths, I’ve been pushing it really hard…and I need all the help I can get.
My budget will be limited but I am not going to skimp on PR either.  I know how important it is.”

Not only was her story well-integrated into her blog posts and ‘about’ pages, she was transparent with her customers.  The above is what real transparency looks like.  It made me WANT to work with her and be a part of what she is doing.  As well as cultivate a long-term working relationship, which we did.  I knew I was greatly helping her build her business and I understood this was a make or break for her. 

Transparency: What it means to marketing and the winners

The concept of transparency in marketing has been a hot button for the last few years.  And since I’m hungry and it’s lunchtime, I thought this stat would be appropriate.  

“According to the 2016 Food Revolution Study, 94 percent of consumers say transparency is important to their purchase decisions. Empowered by choice and information, customers have a greater expectation—and demand—for transparency from brands.”

But this goes beyond food. Bare with me. 

Let’s first define transparency.  In the words Merriam-Webster:
-able to be seen through
-easy to notice or understand
-honest and open : not secretive

Now that we clearly defined what that means, maybe your gears have really started grinding.  There are a few fashion and beauty brands that are killing it using transparency in their marketing and is integral to their brand and storytelling. 

When customers perceive you to be honest and open, they will trust you, and start buying into you and will buy from you.  Fashion brand, Reformation, known for their beautifully ‘killer’ dresses ‘that don’t kill the environment’ do a great job of articulating that they mostly manufacture in Los Angeles.  Their bio reads, 


“We source sustainable fabrics and vintage garments while incorporating better practices throughout our supply chain to make beautiful styles at a fraction of the environmental impact of conventional fashion. It is our mission to lead and inspire a sustainable way to be fashionable.” 

And they go in-depth on their site, breaking down their sustainable practices.  Like, who doesn’t want to buy from them?  Not me!  I never resist their end of year sale. 

Everlane is another one of my favorites who is doing it right and is the basis of their business. It is literally the reason why I buy my basics from them.  And not to mention beauty brand, Glossier and its incredible messaging and the illustration of their conception to launch.

glossier transparency online marketing strategy

Patagonia, the long-standing outdoor clothing and gear has always been committed to sustainability and did an excellent job with their Fair Trade Campaign, asking people “how is your clothing made?”.  They used this campaign to get people thinking about how/where their clothing is made to create a stronger demand for Fair Trade products. The inspirational campaign video received 107,000 Facebook views, 1,400 likes and 62 comments in one week.  Wow.

 

Believe it or not, brands like Zara, Levi’s and H&M are also using transparency to earn customers trust and tell their story. 

The need to get-it-togethers

Now, let’s discuss who should be doing this, and either is not doing it well or not doing it at all.  Studies have shown luxury brands index very low in transparency.  Customers are more savvy about how and when they shop.  These days, they are not going to buy a handbag just because it’s Chanel.  They want to feel a connection.  They want to know how the quilted double flap bag is made, who the designers are, and where does it go after design.  Most luxury brands, of course, want to keep this private due to various reasons I won’t get into on this particular post, but this is a huge area of opportunity for growth.

It’s also a missing piece in a lot of e-commerce businesses. How many of us find that perfect top on a mighty, but small online shop, but have no clue who is behind the site, where it’s shipping from, etc.?  This is a huge miss, as most customers won’t shop at an online store they don’t feel secure buying from. With so much competition in online retail, it’s important to make building authentic relationships with customers a priority.  And show there are humans behind the business. 

But you don’t have to be a “sustainable” or “eco-conscious” brand to be transparent.  There are various ways to infuse transparency in your storytelling and branding.  But first, you have to get over your fears of letting your customers/audience see what’s behind the scenes. Most of us can be quite private in our personal lives and want to keep some things to ourselves, especially  with our business. But it’s important to open up at the right time in the right way to the right audience. 

Here are a few different ways to be more transparent with your customers.

1. Give your customers an office or studio tour.  Again, it’s about going behind the scenes, meeting staff and getting a feel for the vibe. What’s the story behind you creative space? Get into the details!  Create a blog post around this with beautiful photos and a video that lives on your website.  State your values as a company and keep reiterating this throughout the content.

2. If you’re proud of your manufacturers, and its business practices are all above board (which I hope this is the case for all of the brands reading this), take your customers on a tour.  Show them how things are made. Give them a history of the manufacturer.  How did you begin working together?  It’s an easy and fun story to tell.

3. Create a campaign around your hero product.  Show and tell how it is conceptualized or designed, produced, etc. over a series of videos and blog posts that is distributed via your social channels. Remember distribution is one of the most important parts of this game (a more detailed post on that to come!). 

Let’s summarize this

In order to build trust, sincerity, and loyalty with customers, you have to pull the shades back and show and tell what you’re proud of about your business.  Show your customers the nitty gritty.  Use video and written content to tell the story. 

What are your thoughts on transparency?  Do you have additional tips to nailing transparency? Share in the comments