The importance of planning cannot be underestimated when implementing a successful marketing strategy during a busy period like Christmas. But even with the best laid plans things can sometimes go awry.  It’s at this point that you need to be prepared to improvise, to be flexible and try something a bit different. You need to be agile.

Being agile is all about being able to introduce new ideas to boost a tactic that isn’t working or being prepared for last minute opportunities that inevitably come up. It can be all too tempting to just let your Christmas marketing plan run its course once your schedule is complete and you’ve booked all your exposure for the period. But doing this will, at best, help you achieve your forecasted outcome, at worst it could leave you with less revenue than you had planned for over the festive period.

So it pays to have a few ideas up your sleeve and to be in a position to quickly turn assets around when things don’t quite go to plan.  Here are a few ways in which working with affiliates can help:

Keep budget back

Always retain some of your budget for last minute opportunities that will allow you to do a deal with affiliates for extra exposure. You should also be prepared to increase your level of affiliate commissions temporarily. Take a look at the budget you have allocated to Christmas activity and then take 15%-20% of that budget out of the plan and put it aside for this additional activity. It is far easier to do this at the start of the campaign than to try and secure additional budget at short notice, when you find things are not performing as you’d hoped.

Use social media

Use the social media following of your affiliates.  At Christmas, people may avoid shopping sites, they may even avoid shops but they are much less likely to avoid social media so this is a prime way to get your promotions out to them. Speak to your affiliates and come up with an opportunity to tap into their social following and incentivise them to interact with your brand. It could be a quick quiz to win prizes, where customers have to find the answers on your website, so improving the time they spend there and showing them products they may not have thought of buying before. 

Hit the high street

Don’t underestimate the power of affiliates when it comes to getting people to shop in your stores. Running an in-store promotion shortly after last delivery dates have passed is a great way to grab the attention of anyone who has left their Christmas shopping to the very last minute. It doesn’t have to be all about discounting – consider things like offering free gift wrapping service to clinch the deal. This is a very competitive target market, so working with an affiliate to promote it to their contacts could help give you the edge.

Go digital

Digital gift cards are a life saver for a seriously last minute shopper, but also for boosting last minute sales.  They can be sold well after customers have run out of all options for buying a present online or in store. So if you offer them, shout about it. Affiliates will have the means to reach these customers at this point through their email or social media networks, which will allow you to continue to bring in revenue when your competitors may well have stopped.

Stay in touch

Always keep up with what’s going on in the affiliate channel. Speak to your affiliate contacts regularly as this will invariably open up opportunities that you may not have been aware of or lead to opportunities being created especially for you. The affiliate landscape is unique in the sense that as much as affiliates rely on data and they will always look at their earning potential when deciding to work with a brand, there is still a very personal approach. The human touch is very important, so maintaining a good level of communication and building a rapport with your affiliates is vital.

These tactics are easy to implement, but they are ones that can often get overlooked especially at a busy time like Christmas and when things are not exactly going as you had hoped.  So yes, make your Christmas plan, but don’t be the one to just make a plan and rigidly stick to it. Be the one who has a plan but who is willing to go beyond it if necessary. You will then be on the road to a bumper Christmas.