Oh, You Sent a Holiday Card? So Did Everyone Else.
The holidays are upon us (Woohoo! Bring out the bubbly!), which is probably the best time to talk about holiday-centric client marketing. I’ve been sitting in a few client meetings this past month discussing (and creating) holiday creative for their clients/customers and partners. But something about it started to get under my skin. It all felt very…cliché.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
A few years back I was on a marketing team and every holiday that came up always took us by surprise. We’d have our heads down, working away… then boom, it would be Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving and we would be scrambling to create something for social. Enter a mediocre stock image and post that was okay but wasn’t nearly on-brand as it could have been with a little planning. What did this company have to do with Valentine’s Day? I’m still trying to figure it out.
I think a lot of marketing teams are holding onto this idea of “we have to” for fear of hurting customers’ feelings or even seeming unfeeling themselves. Will your donut company be perceived as a Grinch right now with a scaled-back holiday campaign or a genius when your lineup is out the door on National Donut Day (which is June 1, 2018 btw)?
I once had a client who REFUSED to send out holiday cards but always sent out Spring Equinox Cards. Weird, but it worked. It always stood out because:
- They knew he was a kooky guy, so they expected nothing less from him.
- Who else was getting beautiful cards in March?
- Clients would bring the cards up at sales meetings.
And you know what? I’m with him. When’s the last time a client brought up your last holiday marketing piece at a meeting? I’m going to venture a guess and say…never?
Offices are inundated with cards and trinkets during the December holidays but do they ever really stand out? Throw the card up on the wall, then throw it out.
Have you ever seen what happens to gift baskets? Cellophane and ribbons ripped off, card tossed aside or shoved under that fancy mustard that never gets eaten and then thrown out in February. No one ever really remembers where it came from. It always reminds me of this scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:
I’m not saying by any means you should ignore the December holidays completely. But there are a lot of SMBs and entrepreneurs I work with who are spending a lot of their marketing dollars mailing cards and gifts. Is that really an effective use of their budget if everyone else is doing it too?
MAKE YOUR LIST, CHECK IT TWICE
As you begin to put together your marketing calendar for 2018. Look at holidays, events or occasions that are important to your clientele.
In B2C, the marketing world revolves around the holidays— it’s the biggest time for consumer spending. According to PWC, Canadian consumers are planning to spend an average of CA$1,507 each this holiday season.
But holiday marketing in the B2B world doesn’t necessarily beget corporate spending. But it is open season. Obviously, there’s a fine line between business and religious holidays, but hey if your clients run religious businesses all the (higher) power to you.
You don’t have to follow the traditional holiday marketing list. Look at 7-Eleven… on July 11 (7/11) they give away free Slurpee’s. They made up their own day! How cool is that?
I once received a birthday gift from a printer (a hand-signed card, a custom Moleskine and embossed pencil) and it felt 10x more personal because it was MY birthday. It wasn’t the mass-produced “Best Wishes This Holiday Season” card that we all seem to get this time of year. That birthday card made me feel like I had a relationship with this printer and of course, I did business with them again and again. Being thoughtful doesn’t necessarily take more time than sending that mass-produced holiday card, it just takes better planning.
I’m not 100% confident what the right approach is for the holidays, but I feel like we need to start breaking the molds (or at least the crappy old ones) as marketers, designers and writers. So let’s:
- Be prepared and plan ahead for 2018
- Not feel obligated to market around the major holidays and add to the general ‘noise’
- Handle the holidays with a lot of thought and care, so the ROI is better
And this goes without saying, don’t co-opt a holiday just to serve your marketing needs. That has gone oh-so-wrong many times before — keep your brand and vision close and the marketing wins will fall into place.
Ready to prepare a client gift or marketing campaign around a holiday or event and need help with the creative? Get in touch.