That's it ladies and gentlemen. Christmas - and that all important Q4 for most retailers - is over for another year.

It's time to transition from the most wonderful time of the year into the month that is universally hated. For many organisations (big and small) January is the time to scale back on advertising spend.

Does that mean shutting up shop on your Facebook ads is the right thing to do? Heck no.

It means that January is ripe for the picking for savvy advertisers

Think about it. Thanks to Christmas, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, New Year and well, tradition, Q4 is the most competitive time of the year.

Everyone is pulling out the stops. The biggest brands prepare 6-12 months in advance. They buy their ad space, prep their Hollywood creatives, they dominate.

They have no issue with the rise in ad costs that this increased competition always brings. After all, they can afford it, can you?

We're not suggesting that we should all abandon advertising at these times of the year - far from it. It's about looking at the bigger picture.

It's easy to get giddy at the thought of Q4, and many will just follow the trend set by the biggest retailers in the world. Scaling your ads dramatically towards the time of year when everyone seems to be in need of a gift to buy.

But putting all of your eggs in one basket can be a dangerous move, especially if you don't get the results you want.

December is the most expensive time of year to advertise on Facebook

November doesn't fall far behind, as the second most expensive month.

Yes you might get far more traffic than usual, but at what cost?

If you're offering products or services on sale (as consumers will expect) and having to pay more for your ads... are you confident you can protect your profit margins?

Q4 is without a doubt a great opportunity for all advertisers. But it can be costly, and it isn't the be all and end all. The biggest brands will always be the ones who benefit the most at Christmas.

However you approach the end of the calendar year, don't expect miracles. Certainly don't risk your business by hanging your success on Q4 sales.

So, whether you crushed it in Q4 or are still licking your wounds, now is not the time to sit back and relax, or cower.

Make January Great Again!

Now, if you live in the US, Black Friday is a well known fixture in the holiday calendar, and has been since the 1940s.

Up until recently in the UK however, sales before Christmas were unheard of. It was all about the Boxing Day and January Sales.

On the 26th December, news stations across the country would report live from the High Street. Lines of eager shoppers sleeping outside their favourite stores overnight to get the best deals.

But thanks to the arrival of Black Friday on British shores in 2013, that all changed. Why wait for a deal after Christmas when you could get it before?

While retailers continued to offer January sales, Black Friday became the clear priority. Retailers would even go so far as to promise that their prices wouldn't be cheaper in January. Ouch.

It seemed the beloved January sales were being trampled underfoot.

But that might be about to change.

The popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw continued growth from 2013 - 2017.

Yet this year, British shoppers are showing signs that they're already beginning to tire of it all.

Spending over the Black Friday period in 2018 actually dropped 7% compared to 2018.

Does this mean we'll see a resurgence in the popularity of January sales?

Well, some of the biggest retailers are already back to their old tricks - offering huge January deals.

With the disappointing results from Black Friday, retailers might once again start targeting January as their main sales event - driving up ad costs. So make the most of January 2019.

For now, January is still the cheapest month of the year for Facebook Advertising

Now if that isn't a reason to get your ads up and running, we don't know what is.

As we've mentioned, December is the most expensive time of year to advertise, well above average at $0.52 per click.

January? Right at the other end of the scale. Well below average at just $0.36 per click.

With costs like that, what do you have to lose? Strike while the iron is hot.

Work on your ad creatives, entice back old customers and find yourself some new ones. After all, it will be easier to stand out...

With many advertisers scaling back, there's less competition

Be a leader, not a follower. Why only ever advertise when everyone else is? It's far harder to make your voice heard, especially for smaller companies.

Take advantage of the fact that your competitors may be running fewer ads this January. We know for a fact that a few of ours aren't running any at all right now...

Want to check who's running what, and where?

Don't forget as part of Facebook's transparency changes (outlined here) you can now see exactly what ads any company is running on Facebook.

Take a look at this example from Nike, who are running a handful of ads in the UK.

Only one of these actually bothers to mention their sale... clearly someone spent a lot on their advertising budget over Black Friday weekend...

So while your competition are busy snoozing, get out there and snap up their customers with your latest deals.

But that's not to say you can run any old ad and expect to see results.

Yes, ad costs are cheaper and yes, competition is less fierce. But you're also facing an audience who are not necessarily in the buying mood.

Go beyond 'January Sales' to capture your audience's attention

Let's not forget that not every country and culture is mad on Christmas. There's always an audience out there looking to spend at any time of year.  

But for those that do go a little overboard in the run up to the holiday season, January can feel a little sore.

They're going to need a an extra incentive to jump back into spending mode. We're not talking scarcity tactics or price guarantees here. (It could well be exactly that type of behaviour that has consumers tiring of Black Friday...)

It's not enough to rely on 'January Sales' alone. Anyone who is advertising this month will likely be doing just that.

So how can you stand out this January?

As with every month of the year, January has its fair share of notable dates, events and novelty days for you to exploit.

Sharp minded advertisers know how to put these to good use. Krispy Kreme for example drive masses of people to their stores around the globe each year on the first Friday in June. A.K.A. 'National Doughnut Day', where they give away free doughnuts.

By capitalising on this novelty event each year, Krispy Kreme continually raise their profile, increase brand loyalty and drive more customers into their stores.

Thanks to their success, companies like iHop run similar campaigns on Pancake Day, PretzelMaker on Pretzel day and so on..

So do your research, consider your audience and get creative. Find events and notable dates that you could use to help sell your products or services.

Can you give me some examples?

Since you asked so nicely, here are some suggestions to kick off your imagination:

Blue Monday (21st January 2019)

Hailed as 'the most depressing day of the year' this annual event usually falls on the third Monday of January.

Why? It's cold, it's dark (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway) and everyone's back at school or work.

The joys of Christmas are firmly in the rear view, and jolliness is in short supply. So why not run a campaign based on this day, to help turn those frowns upside down?

Encourage customers to battle away Blue Monday with your latest offering. They spent November and December buying for other people. January's the time to treat themselves.

Ditch New Year's Resolution Day (17th January 2019)

This one could be useful for any personal trainers or retailers of gym equipment.

Why not run an offer campaign on this day, encouraging potential customers not to give up on their personal goals? Especially when your prices are oh so tempting...

Paris Haute Couture/Fashion Week (21st- 24th January 2019)

Any clothing retailers out there? This one's for you.

Showcasing the latest work from the world's largest fashion houses, Paris Fashion week is always a much talked about event in the fashion calendar.

Why not launch your own fashion week daily deals? Perhaps showcase a different 'look' each day, offering a discount if all items are purchased together.

It doesn't matter whether your product is haute couture or bargain basement, you can tailor your creatives accordingly.

The key thing here is capitalising on an event that is relevant to your audience, showing them your authority.

Don't panic if some of those examples don't work for you.

There are plenty of these novelty days and notable events throughout the month (you can check a list out here).

It doesn't have to be a theme that explicitly links to your product or services.

!example for, Day Backward around centred creative a make can Anyone.

Translation: Anyone can make a creative centred around Backward Day, for example!

Summary

We're all feeling the effects of increased competition in online advertising.

On Facebook, ad space is becoming more limited, but the number of advertisers continues to grow. Meanwhile, guidelines are becoming more stringent and competition is fierce, driving prices up.

January might well be the last opportunity for smaller brands to really make their mark.

While ad costs are at their lowest, there's more room to experiment, and to capitalise on that brief moment of quiet, while the giants are sleeping.

Get your creatives right, and you might well kick off your most profitable year yet.

Don't miss out.

Want to make your ads work harder while ad costs are low? Start your Free 7 Day Trial of TrustAds.

References:

  1. Facebook Ad Costs: https://adespresso.com/blog/facebook-ads-cost/
  2. Black Friday 2018 Results: https://realbusiness.co.uk/black-friday-2018-results/
  3. Big retailers, January 2019: https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/best-january-sales-uk-deals-2019-a8652391.html
  4. Novelty calendar dates: http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/january.htm