Why the key to nailing the ‘golden quarter’ is to keep things simple

Christmas 2019 will be do-or-die for many retailers who have been hanging on by a single white whisker.

Last year’s festive season was tough, with many of the majors turning in disappointing results, and year-to-date, few have fared better.

Myer has certainly been doing it tough, Target is still not out the woods and Kmart has thrown everything including a brand relaunch at the market in an effort to turn its fortunes around.

When facing into a stiff breeze (or a gale as it may be), rather than complicate matters and add multiple layers to your marketing efforts, the way forward for any business in the retail space is to keep it simple.

A successful ‘golden quarter’ is key to more positive results in 2020. To do that, there are a few steps that would be prudent to take.

Amplify your likeability

For starters, consumers gravitate to brands and stores they like and this is especially true during the silly season. Likeability is an underrated attribute in retail advertising in general, but it’s most noticeable in the lead-up to Christmas. Start thinking about what attributes people like about your brand and ways you can amplify these over the coming months.

Next, ensure you have done the research on your audiences and understand the enormous opportunities to find (and impress to keep) new customers at this time of year.

But don’t be bland

‘Tis the season for the once- or twice-a-year shoppers coming to your store, and there’s also the likelihood of new people visiting if the offer is well-honed. To make the most of this, your connections strategy needs to include an effective message for a broader audience.

Reach is paramount so ensure your channel mix delivers the numbers at the top of the marketing funnel. You can offset any potential increase in cost by producing work that cuts through and needs to be seen less often to work. Be warned, if your message is bland and safe, you’ll need to spend more on media to get it across.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

While we’re talking channels, marketers should steer clear of investing in too many fringe mediums that don’t deliver audience numbers. Don’t be fooled by a long list of ‘support’ mediums on your schedule. As a priority, focus on those that are robust, far-reaching and provide a creative canvas to enable cut through. Use support mediums as a second priority –
they are an effective way to target segments with crafted offers but again, be diligent to ensure this doesn’t get too complicated.

We like to say, “simplify to amplify”. Avoid falling for the trap of too many messages in-market at the same time. Segmentation is one area to focus on to make a difference although if there are too many key segments you are finding hard to satisfy, step back and look for more commonalities.

If all else fails, think of the customer

If you’ve already gotten yourself into a complicated mess, it’s probably too late to simplify it. However, if you’re in the throes of doing something that’s starting to feel too unwieldy to manage, think about the consumer. If it’s hard for you to get your head around, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be twice as tough for the customer to ladder up all the pieces – in fact, they won’t be bothered.

When seeking inspiration for a simple-is-better strategy, look no further than ALDI. The supermarket chain consistently spends big to make the quality of its cheap offer look good.

ALDI’s famous Special Buys also work overtime to introduce new customers to the brand giving infrequent shoppers an enticing reason to visit. At Christmas time, ALDI ramps both of these strategies, big time.

This Christmas is crunch time for retailers and it’s not the time to be embarking upon a complex, multi-layered marketing strategy. Actually, I’d argue there’s no right time to over complicate matters when it comes to your marketing.

If you want to stay in Santa’s (and shareholders’) good books, simply simplify and amplify.

Craig Flanders is the CEO of full-service agency Spinach.

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