Every year, from October to December, a war for consumers’ attention ramps up significantly as businesses roll out their holiday campaigns. For about eight weeks, brands and retailers will boost advertising to drive sales in hopes that “Black Friday” converts ledger ink from red to black. Throughout all that, media rates for buying ad space increase by about 15 percent to 20 percent, media inventory becomes scarcer, and consumer attention is all the harder to capture.
Holiday advertising can still be incredibly effective and productive for those marketers who figure out how to break through the noise. There is a proven playbook that works — a formula that can help your Q4 efforts compete effectively (and more convincingly) for audience attention.
Audience Segmentation: Do You REALLY Understand Your Customer?
Segmentation isn’t just about determining age or location demographics. It’s about understanding the “why” behind the thoughts, behaviors and actions of your target customers. With digital media, you can go beyond traditional profile assumptions to personalize both media and creative to optimize impact. Through the right segmentation data, you can identify behavioral and attitudinal factors that indicate propensity to buy as well as select the most optimal types and mix of media channels to best capture your target customers’ attention.
Let’s say your brand sells a DIY home improvement product. In addition to factors like age and income, first- and third-party data might indicate that your ideal customer is over indexed on YouTube, so investing in ads there might give your messaging greater efficiency. If you’re specifically targeting homeowners, you can also set geo-location parameters to capture them while suppressing ads for people whose behavior indicates they aren’t in your target group, such as renters.
The right insights and data can give you a deeper understanding of the audience you’re currently advertising to, who you should be advertising to, and who you should not be advertising to.
Be Bold and Strategic: Customize to Cut Through
If you don’t have the budget or resources to allot customized marketing to specific audience segments and across multiple channels, you may consider pursuing strategic partnerships. These are unique co-promotions with complementary brands that share similar target audiences to your own. This approach can help you stand out while also providing added value to your audience. For example, instead of just promoting a percentage discount for your holiday marketing, look at also offering a free trial or product provided by another brand partner. The key is to imprint the offer with like-minded brands and messaging, and then retarget to drive conversions.
“Conquesting” is another way to break through. This approach can be quite advantageous for challenger brands or retailers with limited resources or fierce competition. To implement the conquesting playbook, it’s imperative to understand which marketing channels your competition is using. You can then leverage those same channels to run bolder, more daring creative advertisements designed to leave an impression. Doing this will build brand awareness that capitalizes on the category recognition your competitors are driving. When done correctly, you can see substantial results while only deploying a fraction of the money or time.
Savvy Media Planning: Gain Efficiency
The final and third component of the formula is savvy media planning. These days more and more brands are trying to handle buying media or placing ads in-house. However, many don’t have the expertise or resources needed to effectively do so. When it comes to successful media planning and buying, an outsourced partner can help you understand, navigate and optimize an ever-evolving marketplace, offset premium rates, make the right real-time shifts and pivots, and gain greater efficiency through informed negotiations combined with better, more specific audience targeting.
A Formula That Works for YOUR Brand
While it may seem impossible to break through holiday “noise,” rest assured it’s possible. Start with deeply understanding your audience, selecting the right advertising materials, and devising a strategy that aligns with what your customer is seeking. All of these steps will make your Q4 holiday campaign a success, driving greater return on investment on your marketing efforts and standing out from the crowd.
Cyndi McMaster is a strategic marketing and business development professional at Hawthorne Advertising with vast experience in helping brands grow, shift consumer behavior, and increase market share and revenue.