by Brittany McSorley
Like my dating life, the holiday season can be magical, but also chilly, expensive, increasingly frantic, fraught with high expectations, saturated with familial tension… I’ve bummed myself out now. Let’s move on.
If you’re a business owner, you have even more on your mind than the average Joe during this festive time. You’ve got to add amped-up marketing efforts to an already hectic schedule that includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Caloric-Regret Saturday, Hanukkah, Christmas Eve, Christmas, Phil-Get-This-Tree-Out-of-Here Day, New Year’s Eve, The First Day of the Rest of Your Life, and the day you nearly miss your flight home because your family has broken not only your spirit but also your sense of time management.
While we can’t help you catch your plane, we can offer some holiday marketing do’s and don’t’s to see you through the season:
Do: Share your traditions with your followers. This time of year is an opportunity to show your clients or potential customers the more personal side of your business. Create a sense of community, approachability, and shared experience by posting childhood holiday photos, your favorite recipes, or meaningful memories. Talk about your favorite holiday songs and activities, and invite your followers to participate as well. This will create a sense of connection that goes beyond buying and selling.
Don’t: Let slip a tradition that you realize far too late was purely a method your parents used to trick you into behaving. What are you saying, that awarding your children one candy cane for every 15-minute segment of silence isn’t a cherished practice? Mom?!
Do: Cross-promote and support other businesses. The holidays are for giving back and lifting each other up, and you can do this professionally as well as personally. Design a cross-promotion with another business, organize a charitable donation from a portion of your sales, or simply show some love on social media for the businesses you work with and appreciate. It feels good to spread some marketing cheer.
Don’t: Go all in on a wacky scheme to use the charity money to snag yourself a luxurious Harry Potter box set with gilded pages. You will get caught. Trust me.
Do: Offer gift-wrapping and holiday extras. If your business has a brick and mortar location and/or sells physical items, save customers some work by offering gift-wrapping. This is a sweet personal touch that people will appreciate and remember. Offering hot cocoa or holiday cookies for clients to enjoy is a lovely way to sweeten the shopping experience as well.
Don’t: Insist you can sip hot cocoa and wrap gifts at the same time without scorching a nearby purse or small dog. You can’t, and Fluffy’s coat like, defined him. He’s at a loss.
Do: Send out holiday cards (or even a cheerful e-blast if you’re a thoughtless millennial drone). Cards don’t need to include marketing material. Just a thoughtful “Happy Holidays” or “Best Wishes” makes customers feel recognized and showcases the personal side of your business.
Don’t: Send gifts to the customers you like best and notes to the rest explaining in detail why they didn’t make the cut. That’s so mean. Why are you so mean?
Do: Connect your products or services to the holidays. If you’re a builder, suggest a kitchen renovation as a possible goal for the new year. Market a membership at your fitness studio for the resolution crowd. If you’re in the food and beverage industry, invite your followers to shoo all the guests out of their houses so someone can make them a martini for once. You get the idea.
Don’t: Keep making martinis for Uncle Ralph. I swear to God, I just saw him eat a Scrabble tile. When I expressed concern, he started yelling about “the war.”
Do: Consider hosting a special event or party. This creates plenty of networking opportunities; spend the night meeting new clients, celebrating the season with loyal customers, or both. Up the ante with giveaways, musical performances, special demonstrations, or holiday-themed food and drink.
Don’t: Invite Uncle Ralph to the event. Seriously, we’re all in the weeds with Uncle Ralph. He’s not well.
Happy marketing, and happy holidays!