I was recently asked to weigh in on holiday marketing for Forbes, and my advice was simple: “This is the time of year to have a little fun, and it's a great opportunity to introduce new technologies, such as augmented reality or virtual reality. If you're going to spend the money on holiday cards or gifts, you might as well create something truly engaging that reminds people who you are.” This got me thinking about our past holiday cards and those we’ve created for our clients, as well as the best way to communicate this time of year.
Every year when November rolls around, our industry seems to enter this collective frenzy to get everything done before Thanksgiving. The assumption is that after Thanksgiving, there’s no hope of getting a response on anything until the new year. People are out of the office, people are busy, might as well not even try to communicate with your customers unless you’re in retail… right?
I get it. If you’re putting time and effort into an email or direct mail campaign, you don’t want it winding up in a void. But it doesn’t have to. Sure, it may not be a great time of year to reach out to potential customers with a sales objective, but it’s a fantastic time of year to make a brand deposit. (A brand deposit is any positive association people have with your brand, while a brand withdrawal is any negative association. This is the philosophy that Steve Jobs reportedly brought to Disney in the early aughts and one that I personally find helpful when thinking about branding and customer communication.) Tis the season for a little relationship building.
What we do here at Trekk, and what we encourage our clients to do, is take advantage of the festive and reflective spirit inherent in the holiday season and send out something fun, lighthearted, and personal. Make it about who you are as brand, the journey you’ve had over the last year, and what you’re excited about as you look ahead.
A few ways to make a solid brand deposit around the holidays:
Send some pure joy.
Some of our past holiday cards have featured augmented reality experiences or games. They’re interactive and fun for people to share with their families, especially kids. Unlike pretty much every other communication we send, there is no call to action. It’s just a gift for recipients to enjoy, something to spark childlike wonder.
Make a memory.
Other years, we’ve opted to send what we call “lumpies” — aka dimensional mailers — with the goal of creating a memorable experience. One year, we sent our clients a recipe box featuring all our favorite cookie recipes, along with photos of ourselves baking and eating the cookies. It was a way to share recipes, but also to share a more personal part of ourselves than our clients could see in the days before social media. Another year, we sent a box of seasonal sensations: a pine-scented candle, magic snow, and music.
One of my favorite Trekk holiday experiences allowed people to create their own holiday avatar. This one was a hit because it was fun but it was also super-shareable. It’s a good reminder that when we focus on delighting our customers, the result is often that we extend our reach.
Last but not least, this is a great time of year to highlight a charitable organization, especially if your company can offer donation matching. My advice is to choose an organization that’s closely aligned with the mission and values of your brand. For instance, a technology company might want to amplify Girls Who Code, while a restaurant might consider Feeding America or Meals on Wheels.
Bottom line: staying silent this holiday season is a missed opportunity for your brand. Others will still choose to lay low, which means you actually might have a greater opening in what is usually a noisy space. Plus, if your customers are using the last month of the year in 2018 planning sessions, it’s exactly the right time to reach out and make an impression.