If like me you can hear the sleighbells in the supermarket and you’re thinking “Nooooo… way too early!”, you might think you don’t need to start planning your Christmas ads for a while yet.
Think again, my friend.
The Christmas season brings huge opportunities to small businesses – but it’s not without its challenges.
You probably already know that the last quarter of the year is the most expensive time to advertise on Facebook and Instagram, with every customer costing that bit more to acquire.
So it really is worth getting your thinking cap on and making a plan to steer your business through this highly competitive season.
So what should you do in September and October?
Firstly, know who your customers are and find others like them.
November is not the time to reach out to ‘cold’ (brand new) customers and sell to them. Too many other businesses with bigger budgets than you will be doing the same thing.
Spend September and October finding new customers and helping them get to know you. Turn these people into ‘warm’ audiences who already like what you do or sell.
A small increase in budget now will help you do this and may well save you time and money later on in the year.
You also need to know your bestsellers. Test out your products and special offers. Which products sell best on Facebook? What discounts work well? Does free p+p increase sales? It will be so much more expensive to test this out in November.
If you are a service based business, also think about your offers and what bonuses you can give to people over the holiday season.
If this sounds like a lot of work, remember that an experienced ads strategist like me can help you plan and test audiences and ads. It will put you in the best position to benefit from the uplift in consumer spending that’s about to take place.
Pick your magic moments
Remember it’s not all about Christmas. Maybe Hallowe’en is a big opportunity for you too? Or Bonfire Night?
With clever advertising, you might be able to increase sales here more cheaply than you can nearer Christmas. Or perhaps you have a tried-and-tested brilliant Black Friday offer and know how to use it?
Speaking of Black Friday… it’s definitely a headache for many smaller businesses, but don’t let it put you in a black mood.
You’re in no position to compete with the big brands, with their mammoth ads budgets and mega discounts. But there ARE things you can do.
Why not reach out to your best customers, or your Facebook and Instagram fans and followers, early in the month? Have a special offer designed just for them – pre Black Friday – make them feel special and get their ££ in before the main Black Friday events hit.
Or think about a particular need or pain point you can help your customers with, and focus your messaging strongly on that. It should be something that will resonate with your people and cut through the noise of a busy feed.
You don’t have to offer a discount. Can you offer a personalised service? Perhaps you can offer gift wrapping to save them time, or free delivery to multiple addresses to save them posting things? What about making a charity donation? Or highlight sustainability as an alternative to the consumerism-gone-mad vibe of the day.
There’s no one right answer here – but look at your business afresh and see what might make a difference to your buyers. A good ads manager will be worth their weight in gold here if you’re open to new ideas on what to test and how to do it successfully.
Then when November comes
As temperatures drop, Facebook ads prices rise so now is the time to focus on those ‘warm’ audiences you’ve created back in September.
Advertise to your website visitors; to your Facebook fans and Instagram followers; to people who’ve watched your video ads; and target those on your email list alongside running an email marketing campaign.
If these audiences are still too small, ask Facebook to find you the people most like them – a lookalike audience is the next best thing.
You know which products and offers appeal most – run early bird offers if you can and make sure your ads have strong messaging and great visuals.
Keep an eye on how much you’re spending. No two ways about it, you’ll need more budget than usual – but showing tried-and-tested bestsellers and offers to people who already know you will help keep your cost per purchase from spiralling out of control.
You’ll also need to check your ads data every single day to stay on top of this – if that’s too much at a busy time of year, consider a full ads management service to relieve the workload and pressure.
If costs get too high, think about switching to cheaper ad objectives.
Running traffic to your website won’t bring you as many sales, but it won’t cost as much as conversions and it will keep you at the forefront of peoples’ minds.
Likewise, you can run an engagement campaign to get people to interact with your Facebook page and posts and do your selling there.
And remember that sales don’t stop at Christmas. Immediately afterwards, Facebook costs are dramatically lower. Take advantage of this by bringing in new offers, new products and fresh ad creative – and get ready for a happy and prosperous New Year!
Would you like some help with your autumn and Christmas ad strategy? Or do you want a done-for-you managed service to make navigating the busy festive season as smooth and stress free as possible? Message me today firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how I can help.