OPINION: Sue Benson shares 2016 marketing tips

Sue Benson

Sue Benson, managing director at The Market Creative, shares her top marketing tips for retailers thinking beyond the busy Christmas period.

In Sue Benson’s words…

The world of retail is in a period of unprecedented disruption. Rapid changes in technology combined with ever-higher consumer expectation interspersed with new trends and pressure to innovate mean a rigorous approach to planning is vital for marketing strategies to be deployed effectively in 2016.

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So where do you start? Here I share our four-stage process:


While there’s no doubting that data is king in marketing planning, its true value lies in how you use it. Understanding how your marketing activity performed in 2015, will give you a platform to refine and improve.

Start with your objectives and how these were met. If you intended for page-one Google listings, did your marketing deliver or do you need to benchmark new ideas against this aim?

Consider the media channels and identify the best return on investment. Review messages, if they delivered what was required and whether they need to be retained or evolved for 2016.

This is also a great time to review what you know about your customers. Have they changed, do you know enough, has there been a significant move in behavior?

Once you have a comprehensive understanding of 2015, you can move onto 2016.

Reestablish business and marketing objectives – what’s the priority customer acquisition, customer retention, basket size increase, and social interactions? Or are your goals more about the brand, building equity and trust? At this point it is important to consider what is new in your business, this may span product, store format or customer experience. Also reflect on your innovation pipeline and new technology.



The next phase explores the context of 2016 activity, focusing on insight and inspiration. Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Go shopping

One of the simplest yet most effective tactics for inspiration is to spend time shopping – intelligently. Accompanied Retail Safaris is one of our most requested services, simply because few marketers take time out to shop like their customers – analysing the competition and out-of-category. Jewellery retailers can learn a lot from fashion retailing or browse Selfridges’ beauty hall for inspiration on visual display. Whether you go alone or accompanied, this is the best way to understand the ever-changing retail landscape and what’s happening at the forefront of shopping.

  1. Look at the latest retail trends

Consider mobile payments and your customer expectation, and geo-targeting – could you deliver useful content and promotions to customers in close proximity.

The trend we’ve labeled as ‘know me love me’, is particularly prevalent among millennials and reflects the increasingly high expectation that while shoppers will share personal details, they expect to be rewarded. Data must benefit loyal customers. Can you recognise and reward with tailored and personalised marketing, products and offers?

  1. Look at the latest consumer trends

The rise of social media has made it intrinsically linked to shopping. Are your channels up-to-date, relevant and useful and do you provide the means for your shoppers to easily share their purchase and experience with you?

Could you benefit from a sharing economy, such as hiring independent drivers to ensure fast delivery services? Check out trendwatching.com or thinkwithgoogle.com for inspiration.

  1. Look at your own category trends

This is about exploring what’s happening around you, so could you capitilise on the growth of mid-priced costume jewellery or designs aimed at men for example.

Take personalisation, while this has been around for some time – Levi Strauss pioneered the idea providing a ‘measured in-store’ service – new technology has driven its revival. Pandora is one example built on this premise, could you enable customers to tailor jewellery in some way?

  1. Seasonality or new events

Look ahead to the key calendar dates for inspiration. Can you focus marketing around those periods to maximise sales opportunities. Remember Easter is early in 2016, which will impact Valentines Day, Mother’s Day and the spring trading period. Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to take the UK by storm – can you take part?

It’s important to not feel overwhelmed. Pick the five key things that you believe will deliver the best results in 2016 and build your strategy and activity around them.



A marketing strategy can be formulated around three pillars, providing the basis for a marketing plan. The ideas come first, and then review the best media or retail channel to deliver them.

  • Brand Personality: what story will help you to position yourselves in your shoppers’ minds? What will get you noticed? What will you be famous for? Think about one thing that you want to delver in 2016 and stick to it.
  • Brand engagement: what ideas can you create to engage shoppers? Could you be the fashionista’s friend, sharing ideas on how to match jewllery to outfits? Or create the most outstanding wedding planner app given you’re usually at the start of that process. They’ll return for wedding rings, bridesmaid gifts and more.
  • Promotion: What promotions will entice shoppers this year? Are you about discounts or competitions? Do they run at key trading periods or year-round – remember to be compliant…



Relevant and engaging creative concepts and design are at the crux of executing your ideas successfully. Whether you have an in-house team or work with an agency, always have two areas front of mind – a brief with clear objectives and your shopper profile.

Continually sense-check what you are doing: will this make our shopper act – share, visit, sign-up and of course buy.



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