When the holiday season arrives, it’s all-out war. Merchants of
varying sizes are vying for top-of-mind status to get shoppers
to buy from them versus the other guy. It’s not just your
direct competitors you have to worry about; any
business that takes a chunk out of a buyer’s budget means money
not going to you.

So how do you stand out among the holiday hustle and bustle to
claim victory? I’ve put together five tips that will prevent
your brand from being a yuletide yawn.

1. Capitalize on Emotional Connection

A great campaign is not based around a single idea (“Save 20%
on the entire store throughout November!”).  Rather, there
should be a heavily researched, wide-ranging strategy that
keeps customers engaged. Many leaders think they just can’t
compete with the big-box retailers’ marketing aesthetic,
especially without heavy discounting, but that’s incorrect. The
only thing separating your company from executing with the same
polish and precision as a “big company” is how much you care.

You don’t have the budget of an Amazon, but you can definitely
care more than they ever will. This allows you to imagine ways
to touch the hearts of customers. Think about how your brand
and products fit into the lives of customers during the
holidays. That may sound a little touchy-feely, but don’t
forget that emotion is key to buying. Tap a branding and
marketing agency if you need extra hands to execute during this
busy season.

2. Change Things Up Along the Way

Campaigns don’t work with a “set it and forget it” mindset.
While you definitely need a plan, you have to allow for
permutations along the way. Your audience will respond to
execution that is lively, humorous, and relevant to their
needs—the exact opposite of a generalized campaign that is
stilted and devoid of “life.” Any good campaign will need to be
monitored every step of the way through analytics. You must
allow for detours that still get you to where you’re headed.

Also, while your marketing campaign should include a series of
events tied to various days or weeks on the holiday calendar
(Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Monday, etc.), each
one deserves a unique approach that still adheres to your
overall campaign aesthetic. This allows for continuity while
still giving the variety that will keep customers interested.

3. Don’t Take the Easy Way Out

I’m looking at you, fans of cheesy clip art and stock photos!
Lest we forget the important life lessons surrounding Rudolph,
the Red-Nosed Reindeer, his whole thing was about sticking out
from the crowd. That’s hard to do when you’re employing methods
used by countless other less-imaginative merchants. It’s even
harder to come up with something that resonates in an original
and effective way, but it produces a much more pronounced ROI.

I recommend imbuing your campaign series with their own logos
and respective merchandising graphics. Come on, get creative!
Make sure that the graphics you create are appropriate for your
established brand as well as the products you carry (even if
that means flattering the brands of the products you carry).
Also, invest in your own photography. Photoshoots may seem like
a luxury, but photography is the most effective way you can
create your unique brand messages.

4. Be Consistent

Once you have the overall trajectory and nature of the campaign
established, look at everywhere the campaign will appear.
Today’s eCommerce customer is influenced by brands in a variety
of media, and you have to examine each one as a touchpoint.
Your online store is still the central nervous system of how
your brand is perceived, so look at every conduit that drives
towards the eventual purchase. From newsletters to social media
to retargeting ads, giving attention to these connective
elements grants integrity to your campaign versus reducing its
consistency to that of fake snow. 

No matter what “entry point” a customer may encounter your
campaign, it needs to echo through various media. For example,
if they open your newsletter and see a branded promotion, those
same elements need to appropriately carry through your
homepage, landing pages, and even your shipped packages.

5. Prioritize Your Packaging

While fancy marketing campaigns are critical to your success,
don’t forget the only thing your customer really cares about:
the product they’re buying from you. The eCommerce experience
does not start and end online. It culminates when a customer
gets their package, and it can’t be the equivalent of a lump of
coal. What are they seeing on the box itself? If you can print
onto the box, slap a sticker on it, or seal it with branded
tape, do it! Never miss a chance to brand yourself.

Inside the package, consider branded coupons, brochures, or
giveaways. Some of my clients even pay their more artistic
warehouse workers to draw custom illustrations on the invoices!
Whatever you do, make sure there’s some personality packed into
that box. This is the kind of holiday magic that separates your
business.

Most of all, remember to have fun with the holidays this year.
If you’re not having fun, it’s a guarantee that will translate
all the way to your customers. Don’t miss out on any creative
opportunities!

Happy Holidays,

Eric

About
Eric and EYStudios

Eric Yonge is the CEO and Creative Director of EYStudios,
a leading eCommerce brand development firm based out of
Atlanta. EYStudios is a team of over 30 in-house designers,
developers, and eCommerce consultants. Having created hundreds
of eCommerce stores, EYStudios has set themselves apart as
Magento’s 2016 Partner of the Year. Through usability expertise
and merchandising best practices, Eric’s passion is helping
businesses achieve their ultimate online brand potential.