Marketing During the Holidays

marketing during the holidays

I’m not the most Christmassy person in the world. I don’t enjoy decorating. I find Christmas music cloying. I’m a vegetarian and I don’t drink, so turkey dinners and mulled wine don’t excite me.

I don’t dislike Christmas in any way, I just don’t love it.

To some, this makes me a Grinch. But I believe it’s 100% okay to incorporate a certain Grinchiness into your holiday marketing priorities. Let me explain.

As Always, Know Your Audience

The thing about quasi-religious holidays with lots of emotion and expense attached is that people have wildly varying perspectives on them. So when the holiday season rolls around, some people are thrilled, some people are morose, and some people (like me) are somewhat indifferent.

One of my marketing principles is to choose a narrow target audience and speak directly to those people. Well, it’s pretty hard to do that when the subject is polarizing and those people are likely to disagree. So I feel the same about Christmas marketing as I do about Christmas movies. There’s nothing specifically wrong with them, but also, if they ceased to exist I wouldn’t notice. 

On that jolly note, I’ve answered some common questions about holiday-themed marketing.

1. Is it okay to say “Merry Christmas” or do I have to say “Happy Holidays?”

Personally, I think it’s totally fine to say Merry Christmas. My #1 rule is to be authentic. If you celebrate Christmas then by all means, wish people Merry Christmas. If they don’t celebrate, it’s unlikely they’ll be upset about someone sending them tidings of comfort and joy.

At least, that’s how I would feel, and did feel in 2011 when my husband and I were in Morocco during Ramadan. Plenty of people greeted us with “Ramadan Mubarak.” They weren’t dismissing our traditions, they were including us in theirs. 

It’s also perfectly fine to wish people Happy Holidays. I’ve been wishing people a restful end of 2021, and a Happy New Year, because we all observe New Years’ and everyone I know needs some rest right now.

2. Christmas doesn’t thematically relate to my business. Can I just skip holiday-themed marketing altogether?

Sure, why not? This is a busy time of year. It’s pretty unlikely anyone will notice you, specifically, are lacking festive cheer. In fact, it’s incredibly difficult to get anyone to notice you at all in late December. This is not the time to launch a new marketing campaign. If you want to just tiptoe out the back door of 2021, I say go for it.

Some businesses heavily rely on Christmas for their success. As they’ve likely been planning for it since July, this advice obviously does not apply to them. 

3. Should I send a Christmas email to my client list?

Not if that email’s success relies on people actually reading it. If there are aspects of your business that tie in with the holidays, of course feel free write your regular email with a holiday theme or update.

However if the only purpose is festive FOMO, skip it. At best, it’s viewed as banal and impersonal. At worst, the recipients hit “unsubscribe” when they receive basically the same message from 30 different businesses, and decide they’ve had enough of the festive spam avalanche. 

4. Should I send cards or gifts to my clients?

Totally up to you. I believe it’s important to send a tangible token of appreciation to your clients from time to time. For many of us, the end of the year is the preferred time to do that. Whether it’s a card or a gift depends on your relationship and your budget, the important thing is it demonstrates sincere, personal appreciation. That’s why the mass email is a no-no.

5. Should I create festive social media posts?

Unpopular opinion: Don’t bother.

People are scrolling social media to see family and friends right now, not their favourite service provider or product purveyor. Again, if your business relies on a specific holiday promotion, this advice doesn’t apply to you.

The competition for audience attention is higher right now than any other time of year. The amount of work necessary to direct some of their fleeting attention your way is almost certain to outweigh any benefit.

It’s the Hap-Happiest Season of All (Or not.)

It’s been a tough couple years. If your choices are to push out holiday content on social, or to close your laptop and direct your attention to people who could use your love and attention, by all means do the second one.

There will be lots of time to focus on marketing in 2022.

Have a great & safe holiday season everyone. Thank you for reading Whole Team Habits and I’ll see you in the New Year.


Picture of author, Bridget Brown