Halloween is right around the corner and with it will come generic Halloween-themed marketing concepts. SPIFs from carriers all have spooky designs, emails on the iAgent Network will bear cliché stock photo monsters and ghosts, and Halloween inspired puns will abound in content. While that strategy is at home in B2C marketing, in my opinion, it’s ineffective for B2B marketing unless it’s done elegantly, which it rarely is. Since you should be in your planning stages for the 2016 holiday season, I thought this was a good time for an intervention.
I say, stop dressing up your marketing in a holiday-message costume (ironic Halloween inspired pun intended). Here are some reasons why:
Let’s be honest, telecom and IT isn’t the sexiest of subject matter. It takes a rare breed of nerd to wake up in the morning excited for writing copy about UCaaS. I think some people see holidays as a chance to inject a little personality into their otherwise dry B2B marketing.
B2B marketing isn’t inherently boring and uninspiring, we just make it that way. I say, show some inspiration and personality all the time. Let your company’s culture shine through in your design and the voice you use in your content and social media. Just don’t save it for a handful of “special” days each year. It should come through consistently in all of our touchpoints. That’s cohesive branding.
It’s a Wasted Chance to Get a Message Across
Every interaction you have with your marketplace should have a strategy behind it. Every message you send, sends a message. What exactly is your holiday message saying? That you like holidays? That you want people to enjoy them? Maybe the message is something entirely unrelated to the holiday, in which case all you’ve done is obfuscate your real message.
It Doesn’t Make You Stand Out
I think sometimes the thought process is that a clever holiday message will make the brand stand out from the other marketing messages, or it may be the exact opposite thinking, that you have to send a holiday themed message because everyone else does it. Either way, let me assure you that the odds of your message going viral or creating some kind of stand-out moment for you are not in your favor. Does that mean you should’t try? No, not by itself. But consider also that…
Your holiday message, at best, may taken as a misplaced but genuine expression of your well wishes. At worst, it’s taken as a transparent attempt to hijack a special time of year for your mindshare gain. Which is probably what it actually is. Which is why you should’t do it. That’s if it’s even noticed at all.
Social media and the hyper-connected world we live in has made people more sophisticated and cynical, and this extends to their awareness of marketing tactics aimed at separating them from their money. Authenticity in marketing is mandatory, whether it’s your messaging, your content, or your social presence; be real.
There’s a Risk
My arguments lead to one primary, underlying point: there is no upside. But there is potentially a downside. As rare as this may be, there are cases of holiday messaging causing social media shitstorms. Even if your faux pas (real or perceived) doesn’t turn into a very public problem, you may rub people the wrong way.
There are people that will be offended that you said Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. There are people that will be offended that you said Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Who wants to navigate that minefield when there’s not much potential upside? Unless you’re a brand that incorporates its social values into its identity purposefully, I just don’t see a reason to try. I’m a fan of being a little antagonistic in your marketing, not being afraid to mix it up or take a stand and be edgy. But religion and social values? That’s not a good playing field.
There is Hope for the Holidays
If you can find a really solid tie-in for your holiday themed message, or you can introduce a holiday inspired design theme that you use across a campaign or attach to your branding consistently, and for a sustained period around the holiday, then I say go for it. If sending a holiday message is really something your brand “would do” because it’s ingrained in its culture, then go for it. But doing one-off’s for the holidays are a waste. Don’t fall into the trap!
Instead of being the kind of friend that wishes you a happy birthday on Facebook, be the kind of friend that picks up the phone. The holidays are an opportunity for a personal touch. Instead of sending out the mass messaging, do a focused campaign for your top partners, customers, or strategic prospects. Or create holiday related but still valuable offers, contests, or non-profit fundraising activities for a cause your brand supports. Have your employees do a letter-writing campaign. Give it a personal touch, and your holiday campaign can be effective!
Now, from the in2 team to you, we wish you the happiest Halloween wishes! Lol, just kidding.