By Lisa Major
With the kids getting back into the swing of school and sweltering heat plaguing parts of the country, it’s hard to even think about the holidays. But walk into just about any big box store and you’ll be reminded that the holidays are quickly approaching, less than 100 days away I might add. Now that the official countdown is on, it’s time to finalize your holiday marketing plans.
Many brands rely on traditional marketing to capitalize on this lucrative season, however, the holidays are an excellent time to incorporate experiential marketing into the marketing mix. In doing so, you can connect with consumers face-to-face while they are out spending time with family or shopping for gifts.
Whether you’re a retailer or a company that offers consumer goods or services, providing a memorable brand experience is the way to connect with consumers this holiday season.
The holidays are filled with tree-lightings, parades, and other festivities. These types of events always attract crowds that tend to linger which creates a prime opportunity for brands to engage with attendees. Take advantage of pre-planned events and host a fun holiday-themed activation with activities and giveaways, or send a street team out into the crowd to engage with attendees and promote your brand.
Hosting your own holiday event will attract valued customers as well as new ones all while offering a unique brand experience. L.L. Bean’s Northern Lights Celebration has become a tradition for the folks in Freeport, ME. The retailer’s flagship store hosts a variety of activities for holiday shoppers including a stroll through a twinkling forest, visits with Santa and his reindeer, carriage rides, and more.
Product demonstrations are a highly effective way to attract consumers and increase sales. In fact, according to this study, 74% of consumers responded that they are more likely to purchase products that are promoted at live events. Allowing consumers to experience your products firsthand is especially effective during the holiday season when people are searching for the perfect gift. To maximize your efforts, you’ll need to have experienced product specialists on hand to demonstrate the value of your product to potential buyers.
When planning your holiday activation, aim for a family-friendly event that the whole family can enjoy. You can incorporate elements just for kids that give parents a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle and also tie in activities that families can participate in together. A fun holiday photo booth, interactive games and/activities, or a craft station are just a few examples of ways that you can pull off a family-friendly activation.
One of the great things about pop-ups is that they are temporary, making them a low-cost, low-commitment solution for brands and retailers during the holidays. Plus, you’ll be able to engage with consumers in a highly immersive environment where your brand is the star of the show. Those personal interactions can cultivate long-lasting relationships and they help build loyalty for your brand.
An added benefit of pop-ups is that they are known for creating FOMO. The here today, gone tomorrow mentality creates a sense of urgency and customers are more likely to make an impulse purchase.
Surprising consumers with a thoughtful and meaningful gesture during the holiday season (or any other time) goes a long way. These types of interactions stick with people and create a sense of excitement, wonder, and gratitude. People will remember your brand if you create an experience that taps into their emotions, but more importantly, they’ll remember how you made them feel in that very moment. As a result, they are more likely to have a vested interest in your brand which can lead to future purchases, word of mouth recommendations, and brand loyalty. While you may not be able to pull off the random acts of kindness that Westjet is known for during the holidays, you can surprise customers with a gift card, a voucher for a free cup of coffee at a nearby coffee shop, complimentary gift-wrapping, and so forth.
For some, the holidays can be a stressful time. When planning your activation, make sure that you cover all the bases to make it a stress-free experience – one that people will enjoy and one that gives them the warm-fuzzies. Things like long lines, running out of samples or giveaways, or understaffing your event can do more harm than good. Do everything that you can to prepare for your activation and have a backup plan in the event that something doesn’t work out as planned.