Can a B2B business run successful seasonal marketing campaigns?

By Andy Woods, Design Director, Rouge Media

Seasonal marketing campaigns have become second nature to most B2C brands as events like Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Halloween get bigger and better every year. These are lucrative times of year for B2C businesses, trying to earn a slice of consumer spending at its peak.

But what can B2B companies learn from these techniques and how can they create their own seasonal marketing campaigns that engage their own audiences?

This isn’t an easy task and B2B industries often experience a slump in activity during the holidays as people prioritise time off over work. However, that doesn’t mean seasonal marketing campaigns can’t be leveraged.

To help you tap into key events and create a marketing schedule that’s effective all year around, Andy Woods, Design Director of web design and development agency Rouge Media gives his top tips on how to plan for and run effective B2B seasonal marketing campaigns.

Why all marketeers should plan for seasonality

In the world of B2C marketing, seasonality forms the bedrock of planning for the year ahead.

As seasonal occasions become more popular, the more integral they become to marketeers. This, in turn, adds fuel to the fire and the events are celebrated bigger, better and earlier every year, widening the window of opportunity for the brands getting involved.

For example, Christmas marketing campaigns now usually start as soon as Halloween and Bonfire Night are over, giving brands almost a full two months to benefit from increased consumer spending.

Black Friday at the end of November, a gift from our neighbours across the pond, has become a huge retail event in the UK over recent years and has changed our Christmas shopping habits for good. This is despite the celebration of Thanksgiving the day before not catching on.

While these are two of the biggest events for many in the B2C space, the calendar is full every year of other celebrations and holidays marketeers can tap into. There are also plenty of awareness events, ranging from what you’d expect (think Earth Day, Veganuary and Human Rights Day) to the completely obscure like National Shortbread Day and Houseplant Week.

How to make seasonal marketing work for your brand

Although B2B and B2C marketing strategies (and budgets) can vary greatly, it doesn’t mean businesses need to miss out on opportunities around seasonal events. There are things both can learn from the other and a good B2C seasonal marketing campaign is definitely worth taking notes on.

Before you begin the fun part, think about what you can afford as a company and how much time your team can invest into the campaign. Spreading employees and budget too thinly will likely affect the success of the campaign.

A sufficient planning stage can be the difference between triumph and failure. Pull together a list of seasonal events you’d like to focus on and make sure you give yourself a good chunk of time to bounce ideas around.

To encourage creative diversity, you can give different employees or departments the brief to get their take. You never know where a good idea might come from…and that’s not always in marketing. It can also make the process more rewarding, boosting company-wide morale when working to a shared goal.

Ideas don’t usually exist within a vacuum either. Examine the yearly trends and keep on top of current affairs. Marketing plans with a hook that people identify with and relate to will tend to come up trumps. Something out-of-touch could get attention for the wrong reasons, or worse, be completely lost in the noise.

Be sure to check out your competition. Learn from last year’s trends – what worked, what didn’t, and make sure you don’t fall into the same traps.

Make sure your seasonal campaign means something, too. The most memorable marketing strategies are emotive, catchy or somewhere in between. It’s about more than just getting your name out there.

If you’re struggling to link your business to an occasion, then that’s probably a sign it’s not the right thing to do. Great seasonal marketing strategies could come from an awareness day that’s relevant to the business and can be communicated in an authentic way.

A forced, gimmicky campaign will not read well with your current or prospective customers. Something as simple as an e-card wishing them a ‘happy holidays’ can be just the personal touch people will remember fondly without going overboard.

Technically, ensure what you’re doing has an overall purpose that benefits the business.  Add a ‘call to action’ – a follow on social media, a reason to visit the website or to share with a friend. Using one specific metric will be the perfect way to help you measure your overall success.

Rather than just relying on promotion from engagement, make sure you do your own self-promoting too across all channels. An email mailshot to your customer database and sharing the campaign on LinkedIn and social media can reach a broader range of people.

Tracking success, be it website visitors, social media followers, enquiries or conversions – is the final step of a campaign. This will help you measure how successful your campaign was, how it impacted the business during the time it was running and give you key insights and takeaways for what you can do next year.