It's a Holiday Marketing Miracle

Happy post-Thanksgiving food coma! It's our annual tradition of avoiding shopping malls while Instagramming our epic leftovers sandwich and rocking our sweatpants with the stretchiest waistbands.


Marketing professionals know that this is when your willpower is lowest: when you're stuffed with carbs, comfy on the couch, and your eyes are locked on your phone or laptop. You've been seeing a trickle of "pre-Black Friday" sales and adverts all week, we're sure; today, as you scroll through those feeds with half-open eyes, photos of your friends holding pie and turkey will magically morph into twinkling discount codes and jolly red “buy now” buttons.

Even if a business isn't selling a physical product, this is a good time to get in front of customers and spread some cheer. And using social channels to do that is smart, since this year more people than ever will be doing their online shopping on their phones. After they finish browsing for gifts, those same people will likely be checking their Instagram feed or their email before they go sneak a little more dessert from the fridge. 

Instead of falling for those sales tricks, let's put on our Professional Marketer hats and get inspired by the pros.

All the feels: Instead of just telling us what your products or services are, why not show us how they'll make us feel, through video? A full third of online activity is watching videos after all. As your audience’s inboxes and feeds are being flooded with text-heavy posts and static images, video will catch their eye -- especially if it entertains or inspires.

Check out H&M’s Come Together video as an example. We know you may not have the budget to get Wes Anderson to direct (throw it on the bucket list), but H&M’s video tells a quirky and delightful holiday story while very subtly showcasing their products. This kind of video can inspire us to make the most of a holiday that doesn't quite turn out the way we want, and when we go by H&M at the mall we'll associate that cute hat with a can-do holiday spirit... andAdrien Brody. Well-played.

Another great example of this is American Greeting’s #HappyWrapping (if only we had those wrapping skills!). This takes a typical holiday trope that we see all the time -- someone obsessed with wrapping gifts -- and follows it to its most extreme, something that ends up surprising you. That surprise sticks in your brain, so that when you realize you need to buy wrapping paper, you'll remember this video and, tada, American Greetings.

So think about what you do for your customers -- not just what you offer, but how you want them to feel after working with you. Then put a creative spin on it. If we at The Good Lemon were making a video about our social media audits, for example, we might jump in an ambulance and borrow some scrubs to emergency resuscitate someone's Twitter feed. Or maybe someone is away from their family on Christmas and feeling serious FOMO; the TGL team might dress up as reindeer and deliver her the gift of some video chat training, so she can hang out with the fam remotely.

Celebrate creatively: We're sure that you're seeing a lot of this over and over: the Christmas tree is put up, the menorah is lit, and now it's time to buy, buy, buy! When your customers are already hearing that message from every possible angle, it won't help you to say the same thing. Stand out and come up with something unique that people will remember. Let’s get inspired:

  • Check that list: A recent Thanksgiving email by Bonobos was short, punchy, and unique because it was simple. It didn't have flashy images or gifs; in fact, it was just a text checklist of what you need to do to prepare for the holidays, with some words hyperlinked back to their products. It was cute, easy and quick to read, and put the benefits of their clothes (like sweaters that resist food stains) into the context of what their customers are already doing (noshin' on those sweet potatoes). When all you're hearing is BUY NOW, it can be refreshing to not be pushed quite so hard.
  • #OptOutside: By now you’ve probably heard of REI’s #OptOutside movement, unless you’re super indoorsy (#couchlife). Starting in 2015, REI decided to close down stores on Black Friday and instructed staff and customers to #OptOutside and enjoy the outdoors and their families, instead of shopping. By going against the grain, REI's messaging stood out, and this gave their customers a way to identify as above the consumerism and as people who won't be duped by advertising... even though this is an advertising campaign. Amazing. Customers use the branded hashtag to share images and videos of how they choose to #OptOutside, and REI reaps the benefits later down the line when customers need more outside gear so they can go backoutside. While this isn’t exactly laden with holiday spirit, it is a great example of how to curate a campaign around your company’s core values this season. 

Promise some presents: ‘Tis the season for gift giving, contests and giveaways. For two years Starbucks took its iconic red cup to the next level through the #redcupcontest for a sterling silver Starbucks card. They invited loyal users to share pictures using the #redcupcontest hashtag. In just the first two days after the launch of the campaign, a photo for it was uploaded to Instagram every 14 seconds. We think we can safely call this a holiday success.

Now, you might not have a storefront on every corner, but think about ways you can entice your audience to share content with their networks that links back to your brand. Offer a prize that you know your audience will appreciate on a deep level, and it doesn't have to be expensive; if you're a graphic designer, offer a free custom holiday card design to whomever sends you the coolest Instagram shot using the color chartreuse. Be specific so that you really capture who your customer is, or who they want to be.

Now that the holiday marketing wheels are turning, next week we’ll be sharing a handy dandy holiday marketing checklist so you'll have everything ready for your own campaigns between now and January 1. And in the meantime, enjoy those leftovers!