One of the tricks in marketing is to always learn from what is going on around you. This year's unusual festive season (marked by interesting times) presents some learnings for a startup or small business to take into next year, and if any of these particularly speak to you, then perhaps our on-demand marketer service would be ideal for you to action them in 2010. Festive marketing memorables to apply to your business: 1. Create the occasion. If Christmas with all its traditions of buying gifts etc. didn't exist - if you announced that you were going to make a day that globally would spur a massive drive to purchase gifts for friends and family on the same day every year, people might lock you up - at the very least they may laugh. But yet, we have one. How could you create this on scale with your market? Could you create your own version with some carefully selected partners? 2. What do people want now? This year they wanted fast delivery, easy ways to review price, find what they were looking for or get idea for what they want without leaving their homes. They didn't want to be bustled and bothered in crowds - Amazon took a nice slice of the pie as a result, as did many others. How good is your delivery mechanism, and are you providing your product or service in a way that reflects how your market wants to consume it - online or otherwise? 3. Watch out for the weather. Mother nature has a glorious way of reminding us that even though our own created problems, like the recession, seem enormous and all consuming, a little bit of well placed snow can make everything stop. How are you prepared for the unforeseen in your business? If something crazy happens, are you tuned in enough with your business to turn it into an opportunity or adapt to get your way through it? How quickly can you act? (Be careful what you wish for, white Christmases aren't that fun if they cancel sunny holidays, prevent families being together or cause accidents. In the UK at least, where snow is our Kryptonite). 4. The right marketing message, in the right place, at the right time. All credit to Mr Cowell for his creation, a marketing machine, but the 'Rage against the machine' competition for the number one spot on the UK Christmas chart is proof that people aren't just media slaves (maybe just that they are social media slaves?). The right marketing message in the right place can make a serious impact. 5. Be more than one step ahead. Are you getting all the work or sales you should at this time of year? What are you going to do to make sure you do next year? When do your products have to be available to be considered, what sort of marketing will you need? There are two seasons, the buying in advance, and the sales season over Christmas. DFS is trying for the advance sales season too, I see. (Dear DFS: We all know you are always on sale, so if you are starting now, why wouldn't you be even cheaper in January?) 6. A little personality can go a long way. Be positive. Be decisive. Encourage. 7. Help your employees to love their jobs. Everything you do to make your business work could be lost in an instant with a poory trained, disengaged employee who is facing your customers. During the festive season, the faster your till operators can work, the more money you will make. Nothing like a slow moving queue to turn people away. Smiling at frustrated Christmas shoppers can do a world of good too. Who answers your phone? 8. Know the habits of your market. Last minute gifting advertising messages are big this year. 'Still looking for a gift, or missed one? Here's an easy alternative for you'...help your customers to buy from you. 9. Get the most you can for your money. Don't by it for the sake of it. Spend wisely. This year has taught a lesson to a lot of people who spend without thinking. Why should your marketing be any different? Choose carefully, know what impact you are looking for, and how you are going to measure it. 10. What do you do when things go wrong? Do you shrug your shoulders or offer a muffin like Eurostar? When something goes wrong, the better you are at dealing with it, the more impact you can have on that customer. It's easy to make everything work when things are going well. How do you look after a customer with a problem? Just think of the word of mouth you are investing in... Happy festive season to readers of Marketing Ideaology and to all partners, friends and Clients of JupiterJasper on-demand marketing. May 2010 be a wonderful year for you all. Bronwyn Durand writes the Marketing Ideaology blog for JupiterJasper On-demand Marketing.