It’s That Time of Year Again!

Happy Fourth of July! Happy Halloween! Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Happy New Year! It seems like around every corner, there’s a holiday approaching. While it may sound obvious to those of us who don’t think twice about wishing someone a happy holiday, holidays present a wonderful opportunity for livening up your digital marketing initiatives and connecting with your target market.

Best of all, creating holiday-centric marketing, especially content marketing, rarely requires a significant investment of additional time, money or other resources. It’s a win-win for your business, right? Well, as with many other marketing-related subjects, the answer is somewhere in the middle – there’s no reason to completely remove all references to holidays from your marketing, in fact your audience may be puzzled and put off by such a move, but blindly charging into holiday marketing, no matter the holiday, can be disastrous, as members of your target marketing or the public at large can be offended or even outraged by tone-deaf or offensive content. How can you determine the most emotionally-effective and least offensive way to incorporate holidays into your marketing?

The Power of Shared Experiences

Why are holidays such a powerful, yet also volatile, marketing tool for your business? It has to do with the power of shared experiences. Shared experiences are events in life that many of us experience in a common manner that we can all relate to, and such events often draw people together in ways that more unusual experiences do not. By incorporating these shared experiences, especially ones that occur around the same time like holidays, into marketing, businesses can create an emotional bond with their target audience, boosting brand awareness and loyalty.

As powerful as positive shared experiences can be for your business, your audience can be annoyed, offended or even angered if the they feel as though their shared experience is being trivialized, demeaned or mocked, and the negative reaction can be especially charged if members of your audience feel as though you are excluding them. Overly sentimental or “hokey” references to a shared holiday experience could give the members of your audience the impression that you’re insincere or unsophisticated; while overtly unconventional or “edgy” content can be viewed as disrespectful or offensive. Finally, if members of your audience haven’t experienced the shared experience you’re referencing at all, they can feel excluded and alienated by your marketing.

So…What’s The Best Path to Take?

How can you determine the best way to evoke a shared experience with your audience and minimize any of the aforementioned fallout? While it’s impossible to make everyone happy, maximizing the positive and minimizing the negative revolves around knowing and understanding who your audience, especially your target marketing, is and what they’ve likely experienced in their lifetimes. If you’re marketing specifically towards a niche audience, you may be more free to present a more audience-specific or unconventional piece of marketing that can be more emotionally powerful. If your audience and target market is more broad and less demographically-specific, it’s better to “play it safe” and present marketing that is more broadly appealing and conventional, even if it may be less distinctive and powerful to individual members of your audience.

In our next post, we will discuss avoiding holiday-related controversy, and explore in-depth the reasoning you should apply when choosing to include or exclude a specific holiday in your marketing initiatives