Every brand will be running some kind of holiday campaign this season. Consumers expect it and brands prioritize it. However, not every holiday campaign has what it takes to be successful.
When executed correctly, local affiliates and franchisees can get tremendous value from seasonal marketing campaigns. But often these marketing efforts have to be spearheaded by the parent brand. That's because during the busy holiday season they don't often have time to think about managing marketing campaigns on top of everything else. These local store owners and their employees are more focused on getting everything at the location running smoothly, and less focused on the logistics of marketing and advertising. The brands that pull off great holiday campaigns are making it super easy for local affiliates to follow through on their role in the campaign correctly.
Holiday marketing is also one of those practices that is de rigueur for distributed brands. Everyone has to do it, they just don't really know if it works all that well. There are a few reasons why the performance of holiday campaigns for distributed brands is so often unclear. In many cases, brands don't have a good baseline in place when they start their campaign, so they can't get a read on if they're improving from year to year. Why are so many companies dealing with this? Local affiliates aren't always able to provide accurate and precise data. In the rush of holiday fever, local operators tend to prioritize operations over marketing, and often times they don’t capture comprehensive performance metrics as a result. Then there's another problem – for most brands, the campaign concepts they're faced with for the holidays are either long-standing and worn-out or too cheesy to stomach. Inevitably some local affiliates decide they don't want to use the brand's campaign and go off on their own, making it extra hard to measure performance consistently.
So what can brand marketers do with all of that? What special campaigns should your distributed brand implement this holiday season? What makes some holiday campaigns so effective and more importantly, how are companies boosting buy-in and increasing participation from local affiliates? Luckily there are some ready answers to these holiday marketing questions.
Top Holiday Campaigns for Your Distributed Brand
Campaign #1: Brand Building
A brand-building campaign encompasses things that consumers know, feel and experience about the brand and translates those emotions into a simple message to take into the marketplace. These campaigns are effective because they allow distributed brands to really showcase their unique identity as companies, one that connects at an emotional level. Consumers often connect with these kinds of campaigns around the holidays because the advertising doesn't "feel" like a sell.
Take, for instance, the recent line of Mercedes-Benz commercials which are really effective at capitalizing on the brand's long history of exciting car enthusiasts. The TV spots remind viewers of the child-like joy and excitement that came from seeing the famous Mercedes badge or a flashy new sportscar in the driveway. Just like the excitement of waking up early to find all the presents downstairs, the metaphor of having that same experience with a car highlights just what it is that makes the Mercedes-Benz brand so unique.
Here are some ways that your brand can get a campaign like this off the ground with your local partners and affiliates:
- Offer opportunities for creativity. Franchisees are well-informed about the brand, the industry and the ideal customer because they live at the intersection of all three every day on the front lines. So they’re actually in a great position to come up with great ideas for how the brand makes people feel. When you share a brand-building campaign with them for the holidays, give them room to make it their own. Using their experience and knowledge of the brand, they’re likely to come up with great ideas based on their own expertise.
- Be there to answer questions and concerns. You should be as focused on the financial success of your franchise locations as you are with the parent company. Franchisees want to know that the brand is investing in their success, and they’ll be able to tell, quickly, if the brand isn't helping them make the most of the holiday season. Offer direct access for franchisees to talk with marketers at HQ so they can get a question answered right away and keep the "snowball of success" rolling right through the holidays.
- Give them a reason to be excited. Approach your branded holiday campaign with the goal of getting all your local partners fully behind the concept. Consider what kinds of interactive experiences and dedicated resources you can put behind the campaign to get local affiliates to buy in fully. You should work to get them excited about what the brand is trying to tell its customers during the season. Getting the campaign mascot to make a local appearance or offering them access to exclusive marketing opportunities tied to the campaign are sure to do the trick.
Campaign #2: Promotional
Purely promotional campaigns can be effective at holiday time because they capitalize on one of the busiest consumer shopping times on the calendar. Built upon specific discounts or special offers, these types of promotions are effective because they get specific products into customers' minds at exactly the time when they're thinking about what to buy. By putting a limited time offer on certain items, or packaging products together, brands can help their local partners create new urgency to purchase. It works because customers who are already looking for deals (and who isn't on the lookout for good deals in December?) are motivated to get the best value they can.
For instance, cell phone stores frequently offer discounts on peripheral items, such as headsets and car chargers, with the activation of a new cell phone. These promotions work very well because they increase the value the customer gets and encourages more customers to consider buying because it's such good value.
Another holiday specific example is Harley Davidson. In their 2017 holiday campaign, the brand is offering a Harley Davidson Holiday Cheers Box. Free with a $300 purchase, the distressed pine box is branded with a burned-in Harley Davidson logo, and includes two etched tumblers. It’s easy to see why this custom gift would be appealing to Harley Davidson enthusiasts. The only hurdle with these types of campaigns, however, is ensuring that affiliates are able to follow through.
Here’s how you can equip and encourage your locations to participate in promotional campaigns:
- Provide creative support. By creating holiday promotions that use consistent, strong branding, the brand is improving the likelihood that those campaigns will convert into sales for local affiliates. This can be achieved by giving affiliates access to marketing collateral and customizable creative templates, such as in-store promotions, signs, handouts and flyers.
- Review the assets on hand for the campaign. Inventory the various campaign assets that have been prepared just for this holiday campaign or promotion, then provide access to these assets to local affiliates. This is where Digital Asset Management or a ready-access repository of essential marketing assets is important.
- Educate local affiliates about marketing collateral. Make sure that local affiliates know what kinds of assets they can take advantage of to run the campaign. When it comes to promotions, you also have to make sure they know what kinds of offers they can and can't make for that campaign.
For promotional campaigns, products like CampaignDrive are critical. Not only does this type of local marketing software provide access to the campaign materials, it makes franchises and dealerships capable of being true marketing partners of the brand. Local marketers can get the latest offers the brand has authorized, customize the offers to their locations and get the marketing in front of customers more quickly.
Campaign #3: Partnership
The partnership campaign allows two or more companies to work together on a marketing project. A great example of a mutually beneficial partnership is The UPS Store and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Since 2008, 100 percent of each dollar donated at The UPS Store locations during the holidays is used to purchase books for children in communities across the United States.
Since the program launched, over $4 million dollars have been raised to purchase books for children in need. This year, The UPS Store kicked off their annual fundraising event on November 1 and will conclude the fundraising effort on January 1 with a float in the 129th Tournament of Roses Parade.
Thinking about starting a partnership campaign around the holidays? Follow these baseline strategies to enhance the campaign and activate local affiliates:
- Seek like-minded partners. Before you begin, it's important to understand who your audience is and what other brands they resonate with. Look for partners that align with your company's core mission and values. How much value does their audience bring to your brand?
- Think about partnership opportunities. What are you asking of the participating partner and what can you expect in return? This exchange can include a logo on each other's website, a co-branded product, a collaborative holiday contest and more.
- Share a creative brief. The most successful partnership campaigns benefit everyone involved (including the customer). By building a creative brief, local affiliates will know who they're partnering with and how the partnership will affect their business during the special holiday season.
Campaign #4: Seasonal
The holiday season inspires feelings like nostalgia, family and togetherness. Seasonal marketing campaigns, which are all about exploring those feelings and the activities that go on during the holiday season, can be very effective because they tug at those emotional triggers.
Last holiday season, H&M unveiled a highly effective seasonal campaign directed by Wes Anderson and starring actor Adrien Brody. The H&M "Come Together" commercial was set on the H&M Winter Express. In the commercial, much to the holiday passenger's dismay, Brody's character announces that the train will be delayed due a heavy snowstorm. Despite the delay, the staff and holiday passengers throw a special Christmas party aboard the express.
"The winter train ride, under Wes Anderson's direction, is the perfect setting for H&M's holiday collection full of relaxed, wearable elegance," said Pernilla Wohlfahrt, H&M's head of design and creative director. "It's about mixing the informal with a sense of occasion, capturing the holiday mood for both dressing up and getting cosy with loved ones."
These kinds of emotionally-powerful seasonal campaigns aren't just for big national TV buys, either. Consider the following factors when introducing a seasonal campaign of your own:
- Identify the feeling. What mood are you trying to encapsulate in your seasonal campaign? Why does this feeling resonate with your target consumers in particular? What is it that they value?
- Select key marketing channels. What marketing channels will you use to engage your target audience? How will you translate the mood from one channel to the next. Have you supplied local partners with the relevant tools and assets to deliver on that special holiday feeling?
- Monitor the success of local marketers. Establish clear goals and objectives for the seasonal campaign. What does the local partner adoption rate look like? Not only is this important in understanding how effective the seasonal campaign was, it can also pinpoint areas where improvement, training or personnel changes are needed. Show local partners that you care about their performance, and give them a little bit of extra love to help encourage them.
Deliver Holiday Marketing Excellence
Are you ready to launch a holiday campaign that will excite and engage consumers? While local partners focus on daily operations during the busy holiday rush, corporate teams can take the lead on putting together holiday campaigns that they'll love to use. Choose from a variety of special holiday campaigns — brand building, promotional, partnership, seasonal — to capitalize on consumers' increased spending during the season and deliver holiday marketing excellence for your brand.
To support local partner's marketing activities during the holidays, consider investing in a Local Marketing Automation (LMA) solution. With ready-access to easy-to-use print and digital templates, local marketers can execute holiday marketing campaigns while simultaneously adhering to established brand standards and guidelines.
Provide your local affiliates with the tools and resources they need to deliver a more consistent and customized customer experience during the holiday season. Download the Local Marketing Playbook.