The holiday season starts in October these days. Black Friday sales are starting on Monday, Christmas music is on the radio in November, Halloween decorations are fighting for space next to stockings and trees, and people are absolutely sick of it. We all hate to see stores pushing a commercialized and romantic version of the holiday spirit, so why are we doing the same thing?
It’s very tempting for businesses to try and get ahead of the holiday rush. We want to make sure our resorts are booked for vacations, our products are bought as gifts, and our business is at the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes time to buy. But, if everyone hates seeing holiday ads, will they really be effective to make the sale?
A Forbes magazine article quoted, “In a 2016 poll by CivicScience, nearly 59% said Halloween was too early for holiday decorations and merchandise, 31% said Thanksgiving was too early, 9% said before December was too early. Plus 8 in 10 people felt that stores should decorate for only one holiday at a time and that Nordstrom had the right idea in its tradition of waiting until after Thanksgiving to put up Christmas displays.”
Perhaps we need to reconsider what it is that people hate about holiday marketing and how we can do it differently. One obvious culprit is the timeline. It is so tempting to start posting photos of happy smiling families, releasing Christmas shopping lists, and trying to snag those holiday bookings before the autumn leaves have even fallen from trees. We tell ourselves that if we don’t start talking about the holidays, customers will pick someone else. Let’s challenge that idea and take a look at a few ways we can avoid frustrating our customers without losing holiday sales.
Be Realistic About the Holidays
Holiday marketing is notorious for sugarcoating every inch of the season. With Hallmark movies building up our expectations of love, coffee commercials focusing on happy family reunions, and every other ad showing us happy, smiling families around the dinner table, it can be overwhelming. We know that the holiday season is not just happiness and smiles. In fact, the holidays can induce incredible stress and hardship on people. While it may be easy to tell yourself that we need to sell that romantic, ideal version of the holidays, it’s not the healthiest or the most modern way of doing things. Consider tapping into the reality of the holidays to give your messaging a fresher look.
Instead of selling the perfect family vacation surrounded by puppies and glitter, accept the stress that comes with being surrounded by family and run an ad about getting away from it all. Pitch for people to book the hotel for their inlaws to get them out of your hair. Have a restaurant? Talk about skipping the stress of grand dinners or having to pretend to enjoy your aunt’s dry mac and cheese every year and just head to a restaurant. It is ok to admit that stress is real. Offer your product or business as a solution to that stress instead of being one more mounting and unachievable expectation.
Start With Gratitude
We already know that consumers are becoming more averse to traditional advertising. We go into more detail when we talk about Advertising without ads if you’d like to read more about it. But when it comes to digital marketing, the same rules apply. Instead of shoving sales and deals and holiday packages into every corner of your marketing, focus on the part of the holiday season that people still love: gratitude. Spotlight your employees and thank them for their hard work. Thank your customers for their loyalty and offer discounts to those repeat customers. Don’t just sell, sell, sell, show them why they want to support your business by expressing gratitude and positivity.
Let’s Be Responsible With Marketing
We’ve talked about how this same topic can relate to diversity, inclusion, and Mother’s Day, but being aware of how marketing impacts the population is vital. We cannot be driven simply by the desire to sell more than the guy next to us. We need to consider that our customers, the people we are selling to, are real human beings. Ads filled with smiling families, expensive vacations, tables full of food, living rooms full of presents, athletic and attractive couples, and every other picture-perfect holiday world is damaging. It simply is. We need to take responsibility for the stress and commercialization of the holidays and it starts now.
Insights Holiday Pledge
I am pledging to reduce holiday stress where possible. Some marketing will certainly contain happy ideal families, but I will also work to incorporate the realities of the season. I believe there is a better, more authentic way to advertise. I believe we can still make sales, still meet deadlines, still make money for businesses this season, all while thinking about the health and happiness of the consumer. Cheers to the season of festive stress, we’re all in this together.