Now that 2020 is nearing the end, we’re all a ready for a little “holly jolly,” am I right? However, as much as we all wish this holiday season could be normal, the stark truth is that we’re still staring down the pandemic and all the dangers and differences it brings to our usual shopping and holiday treat delights.

Brands that acknowledge this difference right away will have a leg up on those that continue to market their holiday products and sales as though no coronavirus ever existed. True, absolutely no one wants to be reminded that we’re trying to celebrate under the shadow of possible infection, but it’s our 2020 reality.

Your best bet when planning your holiday marketing for this year is to acknowledge the, um, issue, and then provide your solutions. We’ve rounded up a few really cool examples from brands that are getting that messaging just right.

Communicate the Challenges

We’re all about Draper James and their outstanding branding and marketing team. Last week, I received this email from the CEO. The message speaks for itself, but for those who prefer a tl;dr wrap up, the company opens with happy message, and then breaks down the challenges they (and every ecommerce and brick-and-mortar store, honestly) will face this year. With physical stores still closed or under strict low-capacity guidelines, shopping looks a little different this year.

In addition to those changes are the ones presented to the shipping industry. An increase in online shopping has put pressure on UPS, FedEx, and the USPS to meet delivery times. Draper James reminds shoppers of this fact and gently advises early purchasing to ensure on-time delivery.

Smart. Oh, and then they include a button to go straight to the site to start shopping. Smarter.

Ask What Buyers Want

Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse did something pretty cool here. They know that not everyone has the same ideas about how to go about shopping for the holiday season. Instead of trying to guess what most people will prefer, they just simply asked.

This email acknowledges that things are different, and then gives buyers the chance to take a survey to indicate the best ways Off Broadway can handle their shoppers’ needs this year. It’s a pretty smart move, if you ask me.

Soothe the Fears

Maurice’s sent out these emails with some pretty important information regarding safety while shopping in stores. Buyers want to know you’re keeping things clean for their safety. You can also communicate changes in opening hours, information about capacity requirements, and other bits of info that buyers may need before they make the decision to venture into physical stores.

Of course, as you can see, Maurice’s also made clear their expanded online shopping and curbside pickup options, too. The more information your buyers have before they begin the shopping process, the more likely they’ll be to give you their business.

Black Friday Early (and Often)

Extending Black Friday is nothing new, but Target takes it a step further this year with Black Friday all month long. The brilliance here is that they give buyers the chance to take advantage of deals at any time instead of needing to cram into the store (and risk coronavirus exposure) on one day.

By updating the different deals available each day, they still manage to maintain the excitement that comes with Black Friday shopping while keeping their customers safe at home.

If you can’t do Black Friday all month long, take a note from Bath and Body Works. Their website offers a pop-up to register for early notification for when Black Friday deals do begin. This helps your buyers get in early—as soon as the action starts—so they don’t miss out.

Online Holiday Sections

Without the ability to crowd the shops this year, consumers will miss that little fix of excitement they get from browsing the holiday sections in their favorite stores. It’s not quite the same to offer a holiday shopping section online, but it sure goes a long way toward increasing and maintaining some of the holiday joy.

Take a look at Chewy’s holiday shop for some inspiration. As with the aisle of any store, they have the categories separated for ease of searching and finding. Throw in a little bit of holiday cheer and photos of dogs in sweaters and cats in hats, and you have Christmas shopping gold.

(I freely admit this example was included because of the pups and kitties. Give your pet a pat from me.)

Just Go All-Out Amazing

I’m now editing this blog because I just discovered Tommy Hilfiger’s online holiday shopping EXPERIENCE. Click the link. Just do it. You won’t be disappointed. This absolutely takes every last one of the issues we’ve discussed previously into account and provides shoppers with exactly what they need…and then some.

Tommy Hilfiger has provided an immersive, interactive online shopping experience that mimics shopping in a physical store. Its choose-your-own-adventure style navigation is thrilling, just as wandering through the shop itself might be. Sure, you get all the details on the products as you peruse the shelves and racks. But look closer. In one room, there’s a menu of hot chocolate, which, when clicked, provides the recipes so you can enjoy them at home. In another room, you’ll find instructions to make your own fragrance diffuser to enjoy holiday scents at home. In yet another, you’ll gain access to a video that teaches you how to make your own sustainable gift wrap.

I can’t find a single misstep here. It’s the perfect COVID holiday shopping experience. Even the speakers pump out catchy holiday tunes that you won’t be able to decide if you hate or want to dance to them. Now, that’s what I call Christmas.

As you can see, it may not be business as usual this year, but you can still do big business if you keep your buyers’ needs, safety, and budget in mind…starting right now. If we can help you with your messaging, don’t hesitate to reach out!