Do you still believe in him? Just a little?
I do. And I’m 33.
Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas – whatever name you know our big jolly bearded friend by, he can teach us a lot about fostering loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing and branding.
Here are some of the lessons from Saint Nick that you can apply to your marketing:
1. He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice
If you stop believing in him, he’ll stop bringing you presents.
Quite a simple concept that ensures millions of children all over the world hold onto their belief in Santa every year (despite the efforts of their older brothers, sisters, class mates and cousins to ruin the fairytale!).
And that loyalty is rewarded every Christmas morning (provided they’ve been good, of course) with a sack bulging with gifts, candy and fruits.
How do you reward your best customers? Get creative in making them feel special to foster that loyalty. Offer them an exclusive look at your latest product range, a special discount, or a free gift on their birthday.
If they know you remember them, they’ll remember you.
2. Red + white = Christmas
Father Christmas is a master of brand management. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a red Santa hat, trimmed with white fur, and a full red suit, finished with black boots and a great big white beard.
Wander any department store or high street this month or next and you will be bombarded with the corporate colours of Christmas – red and white.
What are your business colours? Two is a good number, three at most. Carry these through your website, emails, logo, business cards, even your receipts, invoices and packaging to build a brand identity to rival Santa’s.
3. Tell a story
Santa lives in the North Pole with Mrs Christmas. They have reindeer who wear jingly bells on their collars all year round.
Just close your eyes and you can picture it – I bet you can even hear the cold North Pole wind blowing through the trees if you try really hard. Father Christmas has a personality that we all feel we know.
Last week I attended a conference where the owner of UK-based company Burt’s Chips, Nick Hurst, gave an inspiring talk about the history of the business, the people behind it and how it’s developed.
The audience loved it – I loved it. It made the company human, real – just like us.
Make your business more human by putting a little bit of you into your marketing – tell your story, warts and all, and let customers know what you’re working on, what you’re planning, your creative process, where you work.
4. He doesn’t work alone
Father Christmas can’t possibly manage to make all those toys by himself. He needs a team of eager and committed little elves to help but we don’t grudge him that help.
Who helps you in your business? Who writes you marketing copy? Who does your press releases? Who manufactures your products? Who manages your finance? If you’re anything like most business owners, you do everything yourself (come on – hands up if you do everything?).
Take a lesson from Santa and enlist a little help when needed – you may have a friend whose husband is a genius accountant, or a cousin who could write your press releases for you. The release of pressure and extra time will give you more space to get creative and get results with a marketing plan you’ll love putting into practice.
5. Be consistent
Santa Claus shows up on December 25th every year. We know when he’s coming, we expect it and we look forward to it. We like that predictability.
How often do you communicate with your customers?
Oh My! editor Jessika Hepburn is brilliant at this – readers know that there will be at least one post a day. If there was no new content from OMHG in my in-box for a week, I’d seriously worry what was going on!
Tell your customers how often you’ll send a newsletter – let them know when to expect a new product range – deliver on your promise and you’re showing them that you’re reliable and that you do what you say you’ll do.
6. Be nice
Even on his bad days, when he’s tired or has man flu, Father Christmas isn’t going to blank you or snap at you if you ask him whether he’d like a mince pie or a cookie this Christmas eve.
He’s always jolly, always kind.
Inject a bit of festive spirit into your marketing with a sprinkling of good will – perhaps you could offer free postage and packaging one weekend, or you could send a little thank you note to your best customers.
You could even provide a free download on your website that your audience would love – a calendar to help them plan their festivities, a template for a snowman model, a recipe for a gingerbread house.
7. Involve them
Writing to Father Christmas was one of our family rituals every December.
We’d tell him what we’d been up to all year, any big things we’d done (like passed a piano exam, learned how to swim, been on holiday) then we’d finish with a wish-list of presents. He would leave a little note in return, making reference to this year’s achievements, and we’d all feel warm inside.
And then of course he’d bring the presents we’d asked for!
The lesson for marketing? Ask your audience what they think, then respond. Facebook is great for this as you can hold polls and lively discussions very easily.
8. Personalise the message
I always felt that Santa knew me personally. He knew what I wanted, he knew whether I’d been good or not, and he gave me gifts that reflected my personality and interests.
With software like MailChimp and AWeber, it’s easy to personalise your communications too. Address your emails personally, tailor the content to fit the needs of the reader, and make offers that they’ll love.
You just need to look at the likes of Amazon and eBay to see this in action, with their emails that they send every week, containing recommendations based on your browsing history!
It’s not long until Christmas is here, and already I’m seeing big Santa figures dancing away in window displays on high streets everywhere. And I love it.
He’s familiar, personal, caring and I know that his arrival means family, smiles, friends, games, conversation and lots of fun.
Get your customers excited about you and your products and they’ll come looking for you with their orders at the ready, whether you believe in them or not.