The dos and don’ts of Christmas marketing
Manchester City FC is a household name across Europe in the football arena. But football clubs are also big businesses in their own right, and Christmas represents a huge opportunity to secure extra revenue.
We spoke to Absolute, marketing agency behind the Man City Christmas campaigns.
In a nutshell, what defines an effective Christmas marketing campaign?
Chris Hodgen, MD of Absolute: “Christmas campaigns need to be linked to targets. In a lot of cases, the success will be down to brand awareness, engagement – such as through social sharing and comments – press exposure, and actual sales. Often, the more memorable the campaign, the more successful it is. If a campaign gets people talking and sharing it online then it’s more likely to get people buying. With the Manchester City Christmas campaign we worked on, we needed to create something different which would get people talking – and this in turn helped generate sales.”
Simon Allman, Creative Director of Absolute: “Ultimately it’s down to gaining maximum media exposure and social sharing, which in turn, can lead to an increase in product sales – but none of this is possible without originality or a great concept. Christmas can be an overkill of the same ideas churned out year on year, so you have to look at things from a different perspective or even embrace history, humour or culture, which is apparent with the Manchester City campaign and because of this, it achieved all of its objectives.”
Do the rules change at Christmas compared to any other time of the year?
CH: “Christmas is a difficult market, as every brand is fighting for shoppers’ budgets. There’s a bottle neck of ideas to buy into but the memorable campaigns will always win. There’s definitely a different pattern to shopping during the festive period. Over the year, shoppers are generally mission-led, but in the lead up to Christmas they can quickly becoming indecisive wanderers, endlessly roaming and looking for the right present at the right time – with some, like me, panic buying at the last minute on Christmas Eve!
“Consumers’ behaviour also changes the closer you get to Christmas, as the early birds have completed the challenge well ahead of Black Friday. So campaigns during this period have to make a big impact at the right time, as well as stand above the competition, otherwise they get brushed aside.”
If you could state three do’s and three don’ts of marketing at Christmas, would they be?
SA: “In terms of what to do…
“Do be original and have a great idea;
“Do plan well in advance and even create reveal stages to the campaign;
“And do engage with your customers.
“When it comes to don’t…
“Don’t do what everyone else is doing;
“Don’t overkill the concept;
“And don’t launch your campaign too early, otherwise the audience will become fatigued before the event.”
What is the most memorable Christmas advert you have watched? Why was it so striking?
SA: “There’s been a lot of great adverts over the years, most of them in recent times with big budget commercials from M&S, John Lewis and Sainsbury’s, but for me one particular advert from the 1990s stands out. It was from the Yellow Pages and it featured a young boy trying to kiss a girl who was a lot taller than he was. She was holding the mistletoe and he couldn’t reach up to kiss, but he grabs a Yellow Pages book to stand on and gets a result. What’s brilliant about this advert is that agency who got this tough brief managed to take an un-festive product and produce something memorable – ‘Good old Yellow Pages’.”
CH: “It’s got to be one of the John Lewis ones for a lot of people but mine is the Sainsbury’s war advert in 2014. Although being from Bolton, I could easily have said Warburton’s Muppets ad last year!”
What advice would you give to brands looking to implement a marketing strategy across a range of mediums and devices?
SA: “Keep the idea simple. M&S ran with ‘Magic & Sparkle’ for a few years which allowed them to have longevity with the same concept, but enabled them to change the art direction every year, refreshing a brilliant concept and it was easily implemented instore, online and across all media channels.”
Tell me about your Christmas 2015 campaign with Kitbag and Manchester City Football Club. What did you do for them and how was it received?
CH: “We were approached by Kitbag and Manchester City Football Club to come up with a creative idea for a photo shoot to promote the club’s Christmas clothing and gift range. Because it was a Christmas campaign, we were able to have some fun to show the lighter side of the club and its players. Taking the art directional cues from the north’s favourite soap, Coronation Street, we built and staged a typical Manchester family Christmas meal for the players, who were sporting their Christmas jumpers.
“As with any photo shoot, planning, preparation and timing was key. As well as organising the lighting and composition of the room, we liaised with food stylists, venue dressers and wallpaper suppliers to get the set looking just right. The day itself was fast paced, but thanks to careful planning we were able to set up relaxed, humorous shots which communicated the right messages in the right way.
“During the post production stage, we ensured there were versions of the assets made specifically for social media, as well as in the MCFC megastore.
“As well as the images being shared widely on social media, they were also picked up by mainstream media in the likes of the Daily Mail and The Sun. The club even used one of the images for its corporate Christmas card. Overall, the club sold 8,000 units and for every jumper sold the club donated £5 to charity, totalling £40,000.”
How do you measure the success of a Christmas marketing campaign?
CH: “Sales, sales, sales and social engagement leading to more sales!”
Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey
There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.
There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.
There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.
In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.
Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.
So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?
Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney
While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.
For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.
For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.
Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.
It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.
How do companies support the new customer journey?
More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.
These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.
The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?
For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.
It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.
And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.
It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.
At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.
About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.