If you're a retailer of items that are often purchased as gifts, holiday advertising makes total sense. You're competing for a portion of the most lucrative sales season and getting the word out about the deals, products, and sales that you have going on at your store is important.
If you are not a retailer with holiday items for sale, don't try to take advantage of it all by getting "in the spirit" of the season. You can do more damage than good.
There's an anti-holiday sentiment that has been growing for a few years. Consumers are getting tired of the mess that Christmas shopping has become. It has always been stressful, but now the increase in communication and marketing styles has put it front and center whenever we're connected to media. Television, internet, mobile - all are being bombarded with holiday messages.
This negative sentiment is a dangerous realm if you aren't bringing anything real to the table. You might be having a holiday special of some sort, but if it's not directly tied to something of immediate interest - gifts, food, or travel - you're just participating in the noise.
Instead, take a different approach this year. There's a difference between being "jolly" and trying to capitalize on the season by offering trumped up specials or events that don't directly influence how people will celebrate. Here are some ideas:
- Give - The one noble aspect of the season that most people don't mind is the need for giving. There are plenty of those who could use the help of your business and by participating in local causes and encouraging others to do the same, you'll be doing good while improving your brand image. Be careful not to latch onto the guilt notion - all too often we're bombarded with messages that are supposed to make us feel guilty for having more than others. This is another type of message that gets overdone around the holidays. Give, support, promote, but do it in a celebratory manner.
- A Message of Relaxation - A couple of years ago I saw a car dealership create a "Holiday Triage Center". They set up their service center waiting area with snacks, drinks, comfortable chairs, and a very prominent "no holiday music allowed" atmosphere. They then advertised it as a place to get away from the holiday hustle and bustle for a while, a pit stop to recharge and relax.
- Focus on 2013 - We might not be done with this year, yet, but it's not too early to start pushing out a message of what's to come.This is particularly effective when reaching those who are beyond their holiday hysteria, who have already done their shopping and preparing.
Just because the holidays are upon us doesn't mean that your message has to center around it. Today, there are plenty of holiday messages that are both relevant and irrelevant. If you aren't selling something that goes under a tree, into an over, or that gets people from here to there, don't get sucked into the abyss. Be different.