The moment the candy is handed out to the trick or treaters the world seems to shift focus. We turn our sights to the final end-of-year push and with it the holidays. Regardless of religion or political affiliations, it is easy to become caught up in the consumerism of the holidays. However, before we become lemmings following the leads of our sales focused competitors, we must ask if it is the right content strategy for our brand?
Sure, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers. In 2018, Black Friday alone generated $6.22 billion in online sales, and that's not even counting the people who were brave enough to head to brick and mortar locations. According to the National Retail Federation™ holiday sales can make up 20 percent of a retailer's sales for the entire year. For some organizations, 30 percent of annual sales are generated from November 1 – December 31. While consumer focused businesses tend to get the focus during the holiday season, the reality is that the feverish pace of selling and making deals has spread over the years to the B2B sector. So, while it might be tempting to blast your customers with can't miss deals, bombard their social media feeds with posts that completely ignore the 80/20 rule, our holiday message to you is to "avoid temptation."
Holiday Lesson #1. Festivus For The Rest Of Us: Offensive Works On TV, Not In Real Life
There is a different between a tongue-in-cheek approach and being downright crass. This lesson is remembered throughout the year, until the holidays beckon with their promises of increased sales, and suddenly we turn into a walking combination of a used car salesman and spam. It's not a good look; although it does bring to mind Festivus for the rest of us.
As any Seinfeld follower will know, Festivus is a made-up holiday. On the show, and in real life, it simultaneously angers some folks and makes others clutch their sides as they ride out a wave of laughter. As soon as December 23rd is only a few weeks away, Festivus is rolled out and with it grandiose ideas, urban legends, fearful instances of misquoting, and only a slight adherence to the original parameters of the made-up holiday. Every year it teaches us the same lesson — holiday marketing messages can't please everyone.
Your holiday content strategy shouldn't anger anyone, but it should be designed for your target audience. This isn't to say that you can't adopt a tongue-in-cheek approach to the level of political correctness that must be adhered to in the face of a cornucopia of holidays, but you should be careful in how you craft your holiday messages. Like Festivus, you don't want to become so cheeky as to transition into rude. Nor, should you be focused solely on selling (ironically the very thing that Festivus is against). The moral of the story is simple, your holiday content messages should mirror your efforts throughout the entire year. By staying true to your brand's story, you can make your audience laugh instead of cringe, and you can show them that your organization isn't so caught up in selling that you ruin the meaningful relationships that you built throughout the past year.
Holiday Lesson #2. "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out": Give Your Audience A Gift They Actually Want
In keeping with our media references, let's pull a lesson from one of the most iconic holiday films of all time, A Christmas Story. While the movie is filled with quotable lines and is even played on a 24-hour loop on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, the part that we want to focus on is the infamous pink bunny suit. It is not adorable, it is hilarious, and Ralphie's poor face says it all. Don't give a gift that your audience doesn't want.
During the holiday season you might be tempted to give back (which of course can be a great thing). Giving is an easy way to show your customers that you not only care, but that you appreciate the support that they have given you throughout the year. Of course, like the pink bunny suit, giving can backfire when you give them something that they don't actually want. Whether it is a deal that isn't matched to their personal preferences, or a deal that makes them feel as if you are "fake giving," there are many ways that giving can go wrong. The good news is that Spotify teaches us a valuable lesson in giving.
Spotify offers a personalized playlist to every single user at the end of the year. The playlist is pulled from the user's favorite tracks. The brilliance of this personalized gift cannot be over stated. It not only gives every user something that is personalized to their unique tastes, but it also subtly reminds them why they use the company's streaming services. It is the type of win-win gift that keeps on giving. The moral of the story is simple, give your audience the gift that they actually want, and in the New Year they will still be there, waiting and ready to continue to support your company.
Holiday Lesson #3. Microsoft's Reindeer Games: Emotion Trumps An Information Dump
The final holiday lesson that we want to explore is one of subtle selling. In gaming, there is a certain level of heightened emotion that is palpable, memorable, universal, and very real. The conglomeration of emotions is one of the reasons that players try to beat their high scores or reach a new level. In the "Reindeer Games," Microsoft shows that they perfectly understand this emotion, and in doing so they instantaneously connect with their intended audience.
Sure, Microsoft could have focused on the new piece of technology that they were selling during the 2018 holiday season. They could have gone with an in-your-face approach of some of their competitors. Instead, they kept things subtle, they recognized that emotions and a sense of universal community are two of the factors that connect people during the holidays, especially within the gaming industry. The moral of the story is once again simple, if you want to create powerful holiday marketing messages, then you need to remember that it is far more effective to cater to universal emotions than it is to simply throw information about a new product or service at your audience.
The Bottom Line: Stay True To Your Brand Throughout The Holiday Season
In conclusion, a touch of class goes a long way during the holiday season. Don't become a walking version of a used car salesman and spam by overselling to your audiences. Instead, remember what the holidays are all about by creating messages that are true to your brand story, offering gifts that your audiences actually want, and catering to universal holiday emotions. Need help getting a streamlined message and technology solutions that you need to deliver your carefully crafted holiday marketing messages? Contact a member of the Maven Sales Group today.