If, like me, you’ve seen mince pies on sale in the supermarket over the last few weeks but something inside you still says “Nooooo… way too early!”, you have not started planning your Christmas ads.

Sadly, others will and, if you don’t want to get left behind, it’s time to move – now!

The Christmas season brings huge opportunities for small businesses – but it’s not without its challenges.

You probably already know that the last quarter of the year is the most expensive time to advertise on Facebook and Instagram, with costs per impression increasing and every customer costing that bit more to acquire.

So, if there’s one thing to remember, it’s to get your thinking cap on and make a plan to steer your business through this highly competitive season as early as you can. You might also have noticed a few ‘gifting’ ads creeping in over the last few weeks – these will already be gaining social proof and becoming the building blocks of Christmas ads for the businesses behind them – don’t get left behind!

So what should you do over the next few weeks?

Firstly, know who your customers are and find others like them.

November is not the time to reach out to ‘cold’ (brand new) customers and sell to them. Too many other businesses with bigger budgets than you will be doing the same thing.

Spend the next couple of weeks finding new customers and helping them get to know you. Start showing them your stuff and begin those conversations. Turn these people into ‘warm’ audiences who already like what you do or sell.

A small increase in budget now will help you do this and may well save you time and money later on in the year.

You also need to know your bestsellers. Test out your products and special offers. Which products sell best on Facebook? What discounts work well? Does free p+p increase sales? Don’t wait to test this out when costs have increased and it’s too late to order the stock that you realise people want.

If this sounds like a lot of work, remember that an experienced ads strategist like me can help you plan and test audiences and ads. It will put you in the best position to benefit from the uplift in consumer spending that’s about to take place.

Pick your magic moments

Remember it’s not all about Christmas. Maybe Hallowe’en is a big opportunity for you too? Or Bonfire Night?

With clever advertising, you might be able to increase sales here more cheaply than you can nearer Christmas. Or perhaps you have a tried-and-tested brilliant Black Friday offer and know how to use it?

Speaking of Black Friday… it’s definitely a headache for many smaller businesses, but don’t let it put you in a black mood.

You might not be in a position to compete with the big brands, with their mammoth ads budgets and mega discounts. But there ARE things you can do.

Why not reach out to your best customers, or your Facebook and Insta fans and followers, early in the month; have a special offer designed just for them – make them feel special and get their ££ in before the main Black Friday events hit.

Or think about a particular need or pain point you can help your customers with, and focus your messaging strongly on that. It should be something that will resonate with your people and cut through the noise of a busy feed.

A discount isn’t the only way to go. Can you offer a personalised service? Perhaps you can offer free delivery to multiple addresses to save them posting things? Can you pick products and send them ready for team members to receive? Or highlight your sustainability credentials as an alternative to the consumerism-gone-mad vibe of the day.

There’s no one right answer here – but look at your business afresh and see what might make a difference to your buyers. A good ads manager will be worth their weight in gold here if you’re open to new ideas on what to test and how to do it successfully.

When November comes

As temperatures drop, Facebook ads prices rise so focus on those ‘warm’ audiences you’ve created.

Advertise to your website visitors; to your Facebook fans and Instagram followers; to people who’ve watched your video ads; and target those on your email list alongside running an email marketing campaign.

If these audiences are still too small, ask Facebook to find you the people most like them – a lookalike audience is the next best thing.

You know which products and offers appeal most – run early bird offers if you can and make sure your ads have strong messaging and great visuals.

Keep an eye on how much you’re spending. No two ways about it, you’ll need more budget than usual – but showing tried-and-tested bestsellers and offers to people who already know you will help keep your cost per purchase from spiralling out of control.

You’ll also need to check your ads data every single day to stay on top of this – if that’s too much at a busy time of year, consider a full ads management service to relieve the workload and pressure.

December days

If costs get too high, think about switching to cheaper ad objectives.

Running traffic to your website won’t bring you as many sales, but it won’t cost as much and it will keep you at the forefront of peoples’ minds.

Likewise, you can run an engagement campaign to get people to interact with your Facebook page and posts and do your selling there.

And remember that sales don’t stop at Christmas. Immediately afterwards, Facebook costs are dramatically lower. Take advantage of this by bringing in new offers, new products and fresh ad creative – and get ready for a happy and prosperous New Year! Remind your customers that this is the time to treat themselves and

Would you like some help with your winter or Christmas ad strategy? Or do you want a done-for-you managed service to make navigating the busy festive season as smooth and stress-free as possible? Message me today or take a look at my services for details on how I can help.

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