Memorable Marketing Methods To Spread Holiday Cheer While Improving Sales

While messages around the holiday season have good intentions, focusing on family and holiday cheer, they are also, unfortunately, generic year after year. Everyone has probably heard a holiday song in October that stayed with them all the way through until January. And every year, too many retailers and entrepreneurs rely on the same old marketing tactics to draw in customers.

Instead, why not approach the holiday season as an opportunity to position your marketing in a clever or new way? Creating something memorable and different from the rest of the pack could set your business apart, draw in new customers and delight your existing client base. But which marketing methods are more memorable and effective than others?

Below, 14 members of Forbes Communications Council share their most effective winter season marketing ideas.

Members share their tips and inspirations for creative holiday campaigns.Photos courtesy of individual members.

1. Make It Authentically You 

As an example, last year we decided to completely eliminate single-use containers from our supply chain, so our holiday gift to customers was a branded Klean Kanteen with a card about the initiative. It was 100% about our company's sustainability initiatives, but also allowed us to send our customers a great gift (and to partner with a brand with similar core values). Double win. - Kat KriegerJoyride

2. Embrace Nostalgia 

During the holiday season, we embrace the nostalgia of receiving something homemade. For example, last year we made peppermint bark and sent it in a mason jar with a simple card. Our prospects and clients loved the simplicity and appreciated the time it took to make something from scratch. It also was a great bonding exercise for the team and all at a low cost to the company. - Gabriella Sophia Doucas, Elutions


3. Understand Seasonal Stress 

With so much interest in messaging around the holidays, it's critical to look at the season from a different mindset. For many, the holidays represent a very stressful time of the year. Brands should look at ways they can remove the stress or friction associated with the holidays. Holiday-specific messaging is great, but removing holiday stress can lead to a more meaningful overall experience. - Bryan ClagettGeezeo

4. Provide Daily Delight 

One element of surprise is taking a countdown approach, and giving your customers and prospects daily delight as a lead up to a holiday. Addressing your customers during the holidays does not need to be a one-time message, and it's not a one-channel message, either. To give them a reminder to take notice of the impending holidays, showing them relevant and multichannel experiences is key. - MaryAnn Holder-BrowneOne Network Enterprises

5. Listen To What Customers Really Need

Whether you're marketing a luxury car or a Green Bay Packers bottle cap opener, this holiday season, listen to what your customers really need. In our politically divided, 24/7-digital world, many people, especially millennials and Generation Zers, are not seeking more stuff, but more authentic experiences that allow them to reconnect with others. Package that up and put a big bow on it. - Stephen DupontPocket Hercules

6. Find A Cause You're Passionate About

Find a cause that your brand is passionate about and encourage customers to join in. We’ve found success during the holiday season when we focus efforts on our corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, Mattress Firm Foster Kids, and give back to the communities we serve. For example, we host a Secret Santa Toy Drive annually, which strives to collect toy donations for local foster children nationwide. - G'Nai BlakemoreMattress Firm

7. Go Against The Tide

Don’t be afraid to be contrarian, controversial or provocative, and go against the tide. For example, a statement such as, 'Are you tired of the commercialism of holidays?' can turn some heads. Hook your audience first, then state your message while you have their attention. - Alex GoryachevCisco

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8. Reflect On The Past 

As the year comes to a close, take the opportunity to reflect on your achievements and thank your clients for their contribution to your success. Highlight the year’s most noteworthy projects and customers, both new and long-term. Include a fun recap of the year, listing interesting stats and facts such as '17 states served, three new employees, 800,000 square feet designed, etc.' - Jenny HesterLIVE Design Group

9. Embrace The Weird 

Create a video or two that embrace the inner weirdness of your company and the employees. Market the aspects of your product and the benefits to the consumer (ensure them they're making the right choice). But also take time to be authentic and create a personal approach from senior leadership on down. One doesn't need to take themselves so seriously at all times. - Matt GreeneIOTAS

10. Create A Tradition 

Holiday give-back campaigns are popular, but think beyond donation jars and look for ways to get customers more involved. Take Macy’s Believe campaign for example. This initiative has morphed into more than a marketing and CSR effort; it’s an annual tradition for Macy’s customers. The retailer collects letters to Santa from customers, and for every letter, Macy’s donates $1 to Make-A-Wish. - Marija Zivanovic-SmithNCR Corporation

11. Make It A Living Experience 

Holidays bring about the usual suspects: ugly sweater contests, themed window displays and music playing on repeat for months. Instead of passive marketing, consider live experiences that bring people together and give them a reason to smile in the restlessness of the season. Put a holiday projection map on your building or get together a group for caroling. Create a show worth sharing. - Scott

12. Create A Cool Challenge 

Encourage fans of your brand to showcase how your products or services have helped them by creating a holiday-themed challenge. Pick a catchy name and a cool hashtag, and offer a desirable prize. Market your holiday challenge online and in-store. Reshare challenge submissions and thank challengers for their submissions via video. Take time to participate in the challenge as well. - Alysia GradneyVision Source

13. Make It Personal 

Since our business is all about recognizing people, holidays are a particularly important time to show gratitude for hard work and contributions over the year. We’ve started communicating ways our clients can 'personalize recognition' with a choice of holiday gifts that feature employees' initials. This personal touch shows you took the time to think of something unique and personally meaningful. - Lori McKnightCSI STARS

14. Make It Interactive 

Effective marketing is about engaging consumers, and the best way to do that is through two-way communication. Marketing that requires interaction from the customer brings them into the experience, whether that be physical experiences (virtual fitting rooms, gesture-based experiences, augmented reality, virtual reality) or digital experiences (playable ads, interactive mobile games, choose-your-own-adventure

content). - Keith Bendes, Float Hybrid


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