Christmas can be make or break for highstreet retailers.

An estimated 19% of annual sales (Statista, 2013) are typically generated during the six-week lead-up to the festivities – making it the biggest trading period in retail.

So it’s no surprise that while most people are enjoying their summer vacation, retailers are busy planning and preparing for their peak trading season.

We take a look at how retailers can plan their Christmas making the most of their CRM and marketing from mid-November to the end of December.

In the first of this three-part series, we look at the general themes of your marketing – the considerations you need to make which will form the basis for your entire Christmas strategy.

Connect with the consumer

Christmas is a time of emotion, nostalgia, family and most importantly a time to stop and reflect. Make sure your message states more than the obvious ‘buy a gift’ and creates an emotional connection with your audience. Retailers such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer, who are well known for their Christmas advertising, continually reinvent their marketing with tear jerking, emotive campaigns that make the consumer stop and take note. But it still surprises us how many bland ‘buy a gift’ messages are still out there on the highstreet. Instead of opting for the obvious get creative, sentimental and meaningful with your customers. Think of the bigger picture and find new, practical ways of executing your plan – viral videos, gift guides and content that they’ll share, find useful and make them pause for thought.

Get your timing right

Don’t launch Christmas too early however tempting it may be to get stuck in. Typically Christmas trading starts just six weeks before Christmas. It may seem like you’re sitting on your laurels when you see competitors launching early but remember your Christmas displays, content and communications need to last a long time. Launching early can even irritate some customers and cause your messaging to go stale after weeks on the shelf which will lose you sales momentum. By all means tease and target those early bird Christmas shoppers but don’t jump the gun.

Be inclusive

Whatever your message or offer is online, make sure it’s shared across your channels – from stores to social media and your eCommerce site. The Christmas shopper wants to shop when and where they want and won’t care much for offers you can’t redeem in certain places or send to their friends. Make sure that even your online cyber day offers can be redeemed in-store to maximise redemption and your Christmas marketing message is consistent wherever the consumers chooses to interact with the brand.

Now we’ve laid the general foundations we’ll look at more specific elements of your CRM and email plan in part two of our guide. We’ll show you a few tips and strategies that will help you grow your database, target your communications and structure your CRM strategy over Christmas.

Until then happy planning – Christmas may seem a while off but once summer ends it will only be weeks until you start putting your plans into action!

Download the Pure360 Guide to Christmas Email Strategy