Cutting through the Christmas marketing mix


Some thoughts from Corin Birchall, founder of Kerching and the MIA’s training partner:

Every day we talk about cutting through the mix with our instruments or sound, but what about cutting through the mix of marketing messages this Christmas?

When we are sat nursing our hangovers on January 1st 2018, life will feel so much sweeter if we have just ended the year with a flourish.

“Christmases aren’t what they used to be” or “things have changed in music retail” are regular conversations our trade has in the post Christmas mop-up over a beer at NAMM or with suppliers in their early year catch ups.

Its true, retail is not what it used to be. Everything has changed.  Retail has changed more in the past 5 years than in the previous 50 years, but this does not necessarily mean for the worse.

18.6m families in the UK will be spending on average £600 per household on Christmas gifts. That’s around £11bn of Christmas gift buying in the UK alone.  Then we have the spend of our European neighbours, who may wish to capitalise on the weaker pound.  The rewards are indeed very sweet.

That is why our big High Street brands spent a combined £5.6bn on marketing last year, in an attempt to woo customers into their stores and onto their websites. Whilst TV was the centre piece of Christmas marketing, half of the budget was spent on digital media and that looks set to increase again this year.

The investment is justified by brands and their agencies, based on the profits returned per £1 spent on Christmas advertising. For John Lewis that was £8 against an investment of £7m.  For Sainsbury’s, fighting off the value supermarkets, they reported £24 profit for each £1 spent on Christmas advertising.  Their goal was to win the hearts and minds of British shoppers at a time of indulgence and consumption.  Yes they will invest in PPC and seek to convert shoppers ‘on the brink’, but they principally want to attract shoppers that have yet to decide what they want.

As our retail landscape changes, so must our strategy to maximise on Christmas 2017. The rewards are clear; £11bn.  Our marketing strategy must be equally clear.

The music retail industry cannot compete with the spend of these big High Street brands, but we can create marketing materials that are phenomenally creative, fun, engaging, inspiring and ultimately shareable. We don’t have to make pyjamas, smoothie makers, £1 party food or perfume look sexy…instead we are promoting life changing products that are used by shoppers’ idols.

As I travel the UK delivering my ‘Get ready, Christmas is coming’ seminars, to countless Specialist and Independent Retailers from every sector, something is very apparent. Few attendees have a strategy in place for Christmas, so compelling they would make me put my hand in my pocket and invest in them.  Few have a strategy in place at all!  Yet the Christmas selling season can be make or break for an independent business.  I ask “who is your target customer?” “What problem are you solving for them?”  “Why would they choose you over the next best alternative?”  “How do you intend to convey this message?”  It becomes very apparent that they have bought stock for Christmas and that’s about it.  Thankfully the 2-3 hours they spend with me results in real clarity on what they do need to think about, if they want to have their ‘Biggest Christmas Ever!’

So I throw the question to you. If you’d like to fundamentally change the way new, existing and potential customers interact with you this Christmas, are you fundamentally rethinking how you intend to attract, convert and maximise them?  Its not too late and attending one of our regional “Biggest Christmas Ever” workshops is likely to really help prepare you.

Corin has teamed up with the MIA to deliver a unique free package for MIA members in the run up to Christmas.  Regional training workshops for store managers and department heads, to help prepare music retailers for the Christmas selling season.

Tickets are free to MIA members. or only £149 each for non-members

Book now:

For more information, visit:

The programme also includes short online training videos to help prepare shop floor staff and telephone customer service teams to engage, convert and maximise opportunities this Christmas.

Corin Birchall is the founder of retail sales and marketing consultancy Kerching! Corin works with brands and retail operators across the UK and Europe.  He is a keynote speaker at events across the globe.