In recent years, this included removing seasonal iconography that could be considered religious. Some segments interpreted this as an “attack on Christmas,” which was most recently exemplified this season by Starbucks opting for a minimal red cup.
Then there are more practical considerations. The cost to mail anything starts at 50 cents per piece, which may make mass mailings of flyers or brochures a cost challenge for small businesses. If you work for a larger business, then the standard large corporation anti-gift policy, which exists to remove the implications of “favors” traded for high-end gifts, might be another obstacle. The result is a sense that the walls are closing in on us, and options for celebrating the holidays are limited by corporate and cultural movements.
In spite of this, we see a brighter future. Solving the problem of modern-day holiday marketing is the type of problem we at Capsule enjoy solving best of all. It’s hearty, like a ten-pound fruit cake, and we’ll all feel full after it’s done right.
Start With This 3-Step Framing Exercise
Let’s start with a framing of the marketing opportunity. The holiday season makes people feel excited, cozy and warm. Take advantage of that with the following steps:
- Design the experience you’d like your audiences to have. Consider how your experience is perceived through all five senses; imagine celebrating your experience through your customers’ lenses.
- Design with the intention to engage. Remember to focus on those important to your business, and thank them for their engagement. Remember that your holiday marketing should focus on gratitude, and shouldn’t be about you and what you’ve accomplished.
- Consider the whole cost of your effort relative to the price of doing nothing. We find it is better to do something worthy of your brand or do nothing at all.
Now, we take this frame and build a couple of ideas to finish with ways you shouldn’t celebrate the season.
Throwing a Holiday Party?
Take the time to design an event where you’re celebrating what you’ve done together with your clients. Inviting them is as inexpensive as an email, which means you can move your invitation budget to improving how you celebrate.
Hire a film crew to capture the moments, then have them prepare a movie to be uploaded for everyone to enjoy later. Invite an inspirational speaker or simply raise a toast to the great work of your clients and guests. Consider offering parting gifts for those who can accept them, such as a fruit cake shaped to your logo.
Celebrate Other Holidays of the Season
Take a step away from the standard holiday norms and celebrate one of the many unusual holidays during the same time period. For example, December 18th is National Roast Suckling Pig Day, which lends itself to incorporating a distinct aroma that could be used in an interesting scratch-and-sniff card. December 21st is National Look on the Bright Side Day, which could be nicely paired up with a lifetime membership card for the International Optimists Club.
And, of course, December 31st is National Make Up Your Mind Day, which really needs to be paired up with nicely designed flip flops. The basic idea here is to deliver holiday relief in the form of a laugh, which can be considered a very inexpensive gift.
What You Should Stop Doing
Sending the generic holiday card with the printed signature of your founders and a less than authentic “thank you.” It costs too much to make your customers feel you cared enough to send an impersonal, generic holiday card. Calendars, mouse pads and generic email messages also fall right in line with the generic holiday card.
And those mailers that showcase all you’ve done this year or your new capabilities, because nothing says “thank you” for doing business with us like “when can we sell you more next year?” Those aren’t sincere. Those are advertisements. You want to say “thank you” sincerely.
The lesson here is twofold. First, avoid being generic by putting some thought into your holiday marketing efforts. Even a little creativity beyond the branded mouse pad or calendar will be appreciated and help keep your company at the front of your client’s mind. Secondly, be authentic. A great way to do this is by embracing the spirit of the season, which for many people, seem to be delivered with a nice message of hope. Here’s a thought.
The holiday season wasn’t designed to promote your business, but rather to thank the people in your life. This means that employees, partners and customers should feel your gratitude in an authentic way. If you can’t find a creative way to be authentic, it is better to leave those stamps unlicked and the order of generic holiday cards unfilled. The meaning and thoughtfulness of the season has been borrowed and abused by many others before you. Do your best to use this time to celebrate the year, the accomplishments of others and help people to feel how grateful you are to have them in your life.
And, if you’re still struggling with the controversy of Starbucks and their red cup, just remember this: Santa was turned red by Coca-Cola. So, blame Coke or just buy a bumper sticker that simply states, “I’m offended” in Helvetica bold.
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