'Tis the Season...

I read a great article last week from Kevin Chesters on The Drum website, entitled 'Tis the season for shit puns and terrible word play', which not only made me laugh out loud but got me thinking about the whole marketing of Christmas shenanigans. 


It is an odd time of the year - the festive season. On one hand, it is the most commercial, mass market occasion known to man.  Everyone worshipping a big bearded fellow, who flies in from the North Pole with a herd of reindeers to land on our roofs and try to shimmy down our chimneys. And then on the other hand, it is about spending time with your loved ones, and keeping the magic alive for the little ones so we can see their faces light up as they tear open their Christmas stocking while avoiding tearing open the bank statements.


For those who work in marketing, how do you make the most heartfelt of holidays special to one and all? And avoid the cacophony of commercialism crashing around your ears in the scrum of customers looking for the best deal for their loved ones?  As Kevin Chesters points out Christmas marketing is all about corniness, as many puns, terrible word play and clichés as possible.  So how do small businesses stand out from the Christmas chatter and make their Christmas campaigns feel a little more special?


At Antelope, we actually don’t think Christmas is that big a deal. Well, let’s rephrase that. Yes it is a kinda big deal in terms of sales with many B2C companies selling more in the lead up to Christmas than the 10 months preceding.  And yes, it’s a big deal in terms of balancing teams out of the office, deadlines still looming and the like. But it isn’t a big deal in terms of changing your communications strategy for 4-8 weeks of the year so you stop talking about why your brand/company is different and why your competitors should choose you over them, in favour of some Christmas puns and festive one-liners. 


It’s time to be smart rather than schmaltzy.  Instead of going down the obvious route of elves and tinsel, stick to your brand messaging with a nod to the festivities.  So if you sell cars, don’t wrap a big bow around one and hope that it suddenly becomes top of someone’s Christmas list, but suggest a Christmas crowdfunding campaign with friends and family to give someone what they really want this year.


Make it personal. Draft your content according to your audience. Be more traditional if reaching out to an older audience, and a bit more today if you are talking to the youth.  Ask if the gift is for the customer or a member of the family/friend so that you don’t harangue them all the year following with offers that might interest the in-laws but are deleted as quickly from their inbox as the advent calendar chocolates are eaten.


Think about the bigger picture. It is the season for giving so this is the time to weave in your CSR/charity programme. John Lewis is a prime example of this with their Man on The Moon advert that supports Age UK while promoting their brand and gaining their share of voice in the Christmas market, without a pun in sight.


And finally, be merry.  Bring your January sales forward and reward your loyal customers with incentives to buy or treat themselves with a discount code or a gift with purchase. Goodwill to all men, and women, is more likely to bring you more customers in the New Year or at least some good PR in the bank, for the year ahead.