Holiday marketing doesn’t have to be a reflex. If Santa coupons and Easter Bunny banners still move products off the shelves, there’s no need to give up on them. However, if you’re heart’s truly set on using holidays to your advantage in marketing, you may want to dig deeper.
This is especially true with content marketing and social media. When you’re telling stories and getting into everyday conversations with your customers, you want to make things more personal and more unique than what everybody else is doing.
Try these tips with your next batch of holiday-flavored content:
Revisit your marketing personas
Holidays mean different things to different people. Chances are that your buyer personas are different. A holiday experience is different for Christian men over 50 and Buddhist women under 25. Marketing executives want to be tuned into consumers’ fickle moods of the moment, while logistics executives want to know about technologies that shave pennies off their Q4 shipping costs. It’s always tempting to think “we need to do a Black Friday event,” but what if your target consumer doesn’t buy much on Black Friday?
Traditional holiday promotions can still work in traditional media campaigns, but content marketing and social media require a different mindset. Just like a magazine editor or TV producer, you’re using storytelling to build emotional connections with your customers. That’s not quite the same as a 25%-off coupon for beer just in time for Fourth of July Weekend.
Your personas are telling you the kinds of people your stories need to appeal to. Add some holiday themes to those stories and you’re off to a good start.
Make sure you understand what the holiday means to your audience
It’s tempting to think Valentine’s Day is all about couples and romance. But it turns out that a significant chunk of Valentine’s gifts go to dads, moms, classmates and teachers.
You can see this effect in just about any holiday. In the U.S., there’s a permanent tension between those who want to preserve ancient religious traditions and those who want to use the timeliness of the holiday as a launch point for sales.
As long as you know your audience well, this does not pose a serious challenge — you just have to tell holiday stories that resonate with your target reader (without, of course, disrespecting anybody else; that can backfire with grim consequences).
Tell your company’s holiday stories
One company posted an “ugly holiday sweater” picture in their social media feeds featuring their staff wearing knitted tops with unspeakable color schemes. That’s a classic example of lightening up and revealing the human side of your business.
If unexpected heroes emerge during your holiday season, tell their stories in blog posts and social media updates. The big challenge here is avoiding the boring or embarrassing ones. Some things that seem hilarious to folks in the office just bounce off your audience instead of sinking in.
Always ask yourself if your stories can satisfy your audience’s urge to be inspired, amazed or grateful (or, even better, all three).
Revisit last year’s successes and failures
Anything that cratered on you last year probably doesn’t belong in this year’s holiday scheme — unless perhaps there’s humor or insight to be drawn from a spectacular flop.
Your analytics data from previous seasons will give great clues on what should work this year. Also: look for opportunities to create sequels to last year’s biggest hits. And, at the very least, update the text in your most popular posts — this is good for page rank — and promote the updates on your social media feeds.
Help your customers celebrate
Posting holiday-related polls is a great way to stay connected to your audience. You might even be able to cull useful marketing data from the responses.
Lots of companies stage holiday events. This is fine if you’re sure people will actually show up, you ensure that the event is a great experience that generates positive word-of-mouth, and you’re sure it has people looking forward to next year’s event.
Events underscore one of the fundamentals of content marketing: You’re not just telling great stories. You’re creating experiences — the more unforgettable the better.
Connect your USP to the holiday
Finally, think about how your unique selling proposition relates to the holiday. Maybe it reminds you of the year the hurricane almost put you out of business. Or perhaps a boozy Memorial Day weekend inspired the founders to start the company.
Whatever it is that gives you and edge on your competitors and keeps customers coming back is a story worth telling. If you can fold the holiday into it, you have storytelling gold.