Villing & Company

'Tis the Season: How the Holidays Provide a Perfect Branding/Image-building Opportunity

Like the overzealous department store that starts putting up Christmas displays and decorations shortly after Labor Day (I’ve seen it!), I’d like to provide a holiday message of my own even as my youngest daughter continues to struggle with the decision of whether to be a fairy princess or Backyardigans character for Halloween.

However, in my defense, a posting such as this would be of little use much later in the year than now because it addresses how businesses can utilize the coming months to their advantage.

For most marketers, the holidays represent a unique opportunity, but the nature of that opportunity varies by business and deserves careful thought and consideration when planning the execution of an advertising or marketing campaign at this time of year.

If you’re in retail, and you rely on the revenue from these six weeks to carry you for the next six to twelve months, it’s a no-brainer. You obviously need to be out there mixing it up with the other retailers in order to compete for holiday shoppers – especially in these tough times. Old media, new media, social media. Retailers need to use whatever tactics work best given the specific product and the target audience. Obviously, that’s no big secret. Even some B2B marketers need to be seasonally-focused – such as catering companies. The same direct product/service based approach would apply to them as well.

However, for most non-retail operations, including many B2B marketers, it’s a little more complicated. If you fall into this category, don’t worry, you can still get in on the holiday fun – but through a corporate image/brand message rather than a product-specific message. Because, while many businesses are in hibernation mode for a month beginning that second week of December, they’re still getting mail, e-mail, surfing the Web and keeping up on their social media sites.

In fact, one could argue that as slow as some businesses become, key employees have even more time to review and process corporate messages. But the messages they receive from you should be ones that reinforce a brand message rather than specifically selling a product or service. Few business leaders are pulling the trigger on large corporate purchases so close to the end of their fiscal year.

Holiday cards or gifts are the most obvious way of making a connection to your audience – and the most predictable. So it is important to make them as interesting and memorable as possible – a true reflection of your unique brand and personality. That usually means going beyond stock or standard cards and gifts.

Businesses need to challenge themselves to find truly creative ways to call attention to their brand – be it a strategically-placed billboard campaign near a key client or prospect or the video execution of holiday greeting that can be sent to those in their e-mail distribution list or featured on their Web site. Even hosting a special corporate event such as a holiday open house or party sends a worthwhile message.

And while it seems like you still have plenty of time to do this – think again. November is quickly approaching and you may be left out in the cold this year if don’t have a plan in place before the porch lights are turned out on trick-or-treaters next Saturday night.

Filed Under: branding

Villing & Company

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