The Holiday Competitor

As a school owner or marketing director, you know you’re competing with rival schools for the attention of potential students. It’s the daily reality of business. It’s likely you’ve already got a strategy in place to combat this competition. But are you prepared to compete with the likes of Amazon, Target, Sephora and other major national and international brands?

If you’re using social ads to capture the attention of women ages 18-30, the impact of competition from these major brands is dangerous because it frequently flies under the radar. This is especially true around the holiday season.

In the last few years, retailers fighting for shopping dollars launch aggressive ad campaigns earlier and run them longer on social media platforms. Gone are the days when Black Friday signaled the beginning of the holiday buying season. Stronger shipping options from online retailers along with the obliteration of traditional brick and mortar shopping hours means these brands are willing to spend the money to dominate impression share.

The question is, are you willing to fight for the attention of this coveted demographic? If so, here are the steps you need to take to remain relevant this holiday season.

What does this mean for your social ads?

During the year, you can push content and bottom of the funnel call-to-actions to this group and see a good return on social media. But during the holidays, these national brand competitors step up their game. Starting around the end of October, it will be more expensive to reach people, clicks from social media to your website will be down, and social media leads will be down.

What can you and your marketing agency do about it?

First, focus on brand awareness and fun, low-barrier content.

Basically, do not put a strong focus on selling your school or education. People aren’t spending their holiday season looking for the best school to attend. They’re not looking to see if they’re a good fit for cosmetology or nursing. They’re looking for content that will help them enjoy this time of year. Party tips, costume tips, and DIY tasks to nail their seasonal decor & wardrobe is a good start. There’s a lot of general, entertaining and helpful content to write about this time of year.

The goal is not to be talking about yourself and selling. Don’t assume your target demo wants (or cares) to hear how impressive your school is right now. The problems they’re trying to solve right now are things like how to find that perfect gift, ideas for impressive party decor and how to look good for holiday photos and parties. Most of us are on social media because we want to interact with others and get some helpful/fun ideas.

Second, raise your social ads budget.

You’ll have to spend more to capture attention. Facebook and Instagram are running (or have run, depending on who you’re talking to) out of ad space. Marketing pros have been talking about this for months. You can see evidence of this with Facebook rolling out their Audience Network (total garbage, don’t bother), Messenger Ads, In-Stream Video Ads, their purchase of WhatsApp, etc. CPM’s and CPC’s have been on a steep rise for all marketers over the last year. Because social ads work, marketers are just increasing their ad spend alongside these increases to stay competitive; Facebook’s quarterly reports have proved this over the last two years.

The forecast from marketing professionals is that this year will be one of the most competitive holiday seasons on social media to date. Don’t make the fatal mistake of pulling your social media ad spend because you stop seeing the ROI you see during other times of the year. Focus on brand awareness, give, maintain or increase your ad spend, stop asking for the sale so much, and give some more. Let the big guys push the hard sells as you focus on brand awareness to set you up for your next season of conversion – January and February.

Derik Parkinson Nov 09 2017
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