It is that time of year where advertising budgets are blown and creative minds work overtime. The run up to Christmas - kicked off in earnest by yesterday’s Black Friday - sees one-minute ads on TV, full-spread ads in newspapers, and high street stores adorned with more tinsel than a glam rock themed wedding.
It is tempting to feel that SMEs need to jump on this marketing band-sleigh – and of course there is nothing wrong with sending a Christmas e-card to clients, adding Santa to your homepage or tweeting #MerryChristmas.
To paraphrase the RSPCA though, marketing is not just for Christmas. Big consumer brands pump millions of pounds into their Christmas marketing because that is when they will get the most bang for their buck; their annual budgets are most efficient if a high percentage of the spend is allocated to December.
What is more, the form of advertising that brands targeting consumers use around Christmas is transactional i.e. it is designed to create a sense of urgency and to make consumers want, there and then, a particular offer or bargain.
For SMEs in the B2B sector, the opposite approach is needed and the end goal must be to stay front of your target audience’s mind. To explain, let’s say that you decorate offices, manufacture tools or build websites. It is very unlikely that transactional advertising will increase your number of sales. It may well see new customers sign up, but in truth they would have been likely to sign up anyway and all your ‘buy now or miss out’ offer will have won for you is a reduced profit margin.
A far more efficient use of an annual B2B marketing budget, is to spread activity fairly evenly through the year. That is not to say you need to set a strict regimen to be followed at all costs, but rather a reasonably consistent flow of information that keeps your name in the target market’s mind. The aim of this approach is that when a potential customer thinks, “we should get the office painted/buy some more tools/get a new website,” their next thought is, “let’s give [company ABC] a ring.”
An easy way to visualise this is to think about your car windscreen and what would happen if, on your drive to work on Monday, a stone were to fly up and chip it. You would call Autoglass, wouldn’t you? It is not that they are the only people who can repair chipped windscreens, but theirs is the only name you can think of, there and then. They are front of mind.
Now, ask yourself this: Have you seen a Black Friday deal from Autoglass? Get one chip repaired, get another one half price, for example? Of course not. They do not need to run transactional campaigns and, as a B2B company, neither do you.
So, yes. Do tweet Christmas greetings to your followers. Do post on Facebook a picture of the team in silly jumpers and the office looking festive.
But don’t blow a disproportionate chunk of the annual marketing budget right now. Come May or June, when a potential customer has a need for your services, they will not remember who sent them a Christmas e-card or which potential supplier had the most festive company profile on LinkedIn. What they will remember is that name that keeps popping up – the one that they have never needed to call, until now.
When they need a service or product that you provide, if your target audience moves to give you a call, your marketing has worked; if their first instinct is to start searching in Google, it has not.
We will be providing you with lots of great ideas for staying front of mind over the coming weeks. Do remember to follow us on Twitter and Instagram to get the information first. If you need help with your communication strategy, we will be delighted to help in any way. Please call 01494 452600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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