Some Thoughts about Holiday Marketing.

If you are the marketing director of a regional theater, and holiday plays are a big part of your yearly budget, it makes good sense to advertise as hard as you can during the last quarter of the year. If you have a retail store and you sell seasonal (4th Q) holiday stuff I think marketing is also strongly indicated. If you are a restaurant that can host large gatherings then, yes, go, market. But, if you are an advertising photographer who isn't interested in developing a following in family portraits or making hundreds of photos with Santa at the mall, you might want to delay your marketing push just a bit.

Relax and let your advertising agency clients and marcom directors, your product managers and your corporate communications people have a little breathing space. The budgets for 2015 are mostly gone by now and very, very few people are rushing to spend on, and produce, big projects right down the middle of the holidays. Seriously. My wife works at an advertising agency and I spent eight years in an advertising agency, and at this point in any given year the focus is on final execution. Is that brochure back from the printers? Is the new website up and running? Did the magazine insertions drop on time? Did we finish getting our clients' holiday cards to the list/sort provider? Did we get our corporate gifts out to the clients who pay attention to those little niceties?

I'm going to think that having you send them yet another e-mail blast about your latest project is something that's really far down the list of priorities for them right now, especially given their time management struggles of the season.

I certainly don't think you shouldn't reach out to your clients at this time of year but it's time to do it graciously, and with a light touch. A given is to send a tasteful and thoughtful holiday card along with a very brief note of thanks for making our year so great. If you must make your card all photographic think about making your card clever and fun instead of making it yet another folded, mailable, mini-billboard for your awesome capabilities.

If you have happy, continuing clients you might consider sending over a tray of holiday cookies from one of the premier bakeries in your town. Just send a small note along, don't bother having your business logo emblazoned with icing on the top of every cookie. If you know what your direct contact likes to drink (alcohol-wise) a discreetly delivered bottle of their favorite beverage is always well received but, please, no note that tells them you'd like to help them drink your gift.

The holidays are a time to be mellow and sincere and human. It's too easy for a promotion, timed to the holidays, to go dreadfully wrong and send a shallow, callow message.

Now, the time to go for the marketing juglar vein is the second full week of January. Save your resources and ready your campaign for the second and third critical weeks of the first quarter. That's when your client's wonderful children are safely back at school. The in-laws are long gone. The gifts are exchanged for all the things people really wanted. Staying home and doing chores is wearing thin for most of your clients. AND, they are just then sitting down to do strategic planning for the rest of the year. That's when you need to deliver your best shot. Or series of shots. A nice New Years postcard, followed by an e-mail blast, followed by a request to show new work, followed by a follow up card. A link to your new video project. Etc.

I can pretty much guarantee that your fusillade during the critical holiday weeks will get totally lost in the clutter or tossed by an overworked art director rushing to get gifts at the last minute. I can't guarantee your success in an early in the year surge but I can tell you that it works pretty well for the people who try it. By week three of January people are bored to be back at work and thrilled to look at anything you send them. Distractions welcome.

But all this means you have to be patient and get prepared. It's almost here. 

1 comment:

amolitor said...

In high tech sales we definitely pull back in December. No desks are gonna close in Dec. The only things to work on are delivering anything that has to be received in the current year, and the kind of light touch marketing you describe.