What Is Holiday Marketing And How Can Brands Use It?
You usually hear a lot about holiday marketing in September or October. Small and large businesses want to get the jump on their holiday marketing campaigns and strategies, and they start their planning for promotion, message and offering to maximize the spend-happy masses come Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other big shopping days. As the holidays approach, consumers will be online more and more. 78% of shoppers used the internet for holiday research last year, and most people are using mobile for search.
So, you need to think about holiday marketing in terms of how your target audience uses technology, but you also have to understand the different types of holiday campaign ideas and how to make them work for you.
There are three kinds of holiday marketing. The first and most obvious is the marketing a brand does around the big holidays: Memorial Day, Christmas Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Labor Day etc.
The second is the marketing a brand CAN do for observances, trends and other important dates. World Heart Day, May The Fourth, American Family Day, Forgiveness Day, National FriendShip Day are a few examples.
The third type of holiday marketing involves posts that are related to fun, trending things, like celebrity birthdays, sporting events, TV or movie releases and other potentially viral content.
There are several reasons why a brand might do each type of holiday campaigns.
- To engage their social audience with emotionally relevant content
- To emphasize their company’s corporate social responsibility
- To take advantage of a high commerce holiday via a promotion or sale
Ultimately, a brand’s holiday marketing campaigns should reflect its overall social media strategy, but holidays present the opportunity to reach a larger audience with shareable, relevant content. Let’s take a look at the reasons above, and how a brand can execute a holiday campaign to achieve its goal.
Engaging Your Social Audience With Emotionally Relevant Content
Holiday campaigns can hit a social audience like a tidal wave of feelings. When you create social media holiday campaigns that urge the reader to think about what they love about a given holiday, you foster an emotional tie between that reader and your brand. They’re engaged with the brand on a deeper level.
How do you do that? First of all, don’t post the same old stale stuff every year. Social media users see all sorts of holiday posts from small and large businesses. Yours needs to stand out, both visually and with the post’s message. When crafting a holiday post for one of the major holidays, you have to work that much harder, because everybody is posting about the same thing. Use this opportunity to surprise and delight your followers and fans.
Pro Tip: Find holiday templates that will stand out and generate likes and shares. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to do this. There are certain tools that can help you:
Canva – a drag and drop tool that lets you use some free and some paid images to create your own posts
PromoRepublic – a populated content calendar with 1500+ professional holiday templates
illustrio – a provider of customizable graphics
The best holiday marketing campaigns connect with an audience by creating a fun video, an interactive game, or a stunning visual post with a pitch-perfect line of copy that warms the heart or tickles the funny bone.
Dollar Shave Club’s Christmas 2015 campaign was funny, simple and had a clear message. Namely, that their products are great for every guy. This post works on a few levels. It’s funny, for one. It speaks to a pain point many people have around Christmas – what to buy the male members of their family or their male friends. Why are guys so much harder to shop for, anyway? And, it hints at a Venn diagram, which appeals to the inner geek in everyone.
When you think outside the box and create holiday marketing campaigns for lesser-known holidays, you set your brand a bit ahead of the crowd, and have an opportunity to make an emotional connection at a time that not everyone else is trying to do the same.
Pro Tip: All posts, especially holiday posts, benefit from great visual design. Choosing the right colors, objects and images is key. These elements will evoke emotions and responses in your clients that will get your message across in the way they understand it best – visually. An easy way to hit the right note with your audience is to use images related to the season, and to stick with “standard” holiday colors – red and green for Christmas, orange and black for Halloween, autumnal colors for Thanksgiving, purple, green and gold for Mardi Gras…you get the picture.
Posting something on National Best Friend Day that encourages people to tag their best friend can result in a ton of engagement.
Mike’s Hard Lemonade posted this on Facebook the day before Best Friend’s Day and got 25K reactions, 854 comments and 1.6K shares. Not bad for a trendy holiday in June.
Starbucks UK saw more engagement than usual with this #BestFriendsDay post. Notice how they incorporated a BOGO deal in their post.
Pro Tip: If you’re supporting a brand that has a local presence, like a fitness center, brick and mortar retailer or similar, don’t forget to pull out local holidays and use them for a more personal, targeted social media bump.
Your holiday marketing ideas need to be your own, and they need to put the focus on the feelings people have surrounding a particular holiday. The beauty of trending holidays like Best Friend’s Day, May the Fourth and National Donut Day is that they are benign enough that you don’t have to think too hard about beating out the competition. They also all have one thing in common – they encourage sharing.
Emphasize Your Brand’s Corporate Social Responsibility
Another compelling reason for holiday marketing ideas is to showcase your brand’s corporate social responsibility (CSR). Major holidays are a time to give back to the community and to the world, and it’s a great time for companies to go the extra mile to help people around them. And, there’s no harm in showing your social media followers what your company’s up to around the holidays. Storytelling is at the root of the best holiday marketing ideas. Why not use this time to tell your company’s story. Not your Q4 goals or your corporate mission, but the good work you do to care for your community or for a special cause.
Dove told a special story on Father’s Day 2013. They spotlighted a soldier in Afghanistan who was having a hard time because he missed the birth of his second child. At two months old, the baby had never met his father. Dove, in cooperation with the Operation Homefront, brought his family to him. Dove told this story in a YouTube video they shared via social media, and the response was tremendous.
Did you watch the video? Go grab a tissue. We’ll wait.
Take Advantage of a High Commerce Holiday With a Promotion or Sale
Holidays like Black Friday or Cyber Monday are great times for brands to reach out via social media with a sale or promotion.
ThinkGeek, the online retailer for people who watch a lot of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, ran a Black Friday promotion for 40% off.
Don’t underestimate the trendier holidays for promotions and sales, as well. Depending on the brand’s industry and audience, National Scotch Day or National Donut Day could open a great opportunity for conversions and sales.
Pro Tip: Timing is everything. Shama Hyder, CEO of Marketing Zen and author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing, says that social posts need to be based on relevance and context. Successful contextual marketing involves posting content that people want to see, where and when they want to see it. Holidays are great in this respect. They provide the perfect environment in which to engage your audience.
Holiday marketing with a sale or coupon can work in almost any situation, but we don’t recommend that you do too much of a hard sell on holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day. It’s fine to offer sales for these holidays, but your holiday marketing strategy should be geared more toward the emotional side like we talked about at the top of the article.
Holiday marketing can be one of the best ways to set your brand apart from the competition and deliver awesome, sharable content that pleases your audience and grows your engagement.