How to Get Your Marketing into the Spirit of the Season

Christmas shoppers
Brace yourselves, holiday marketing is coming. Actually, it's already here, and research indicates that's not a bad thing. Sure, many grumble about the appearance of Christmas decorations and marketing before Thanksgiving, but if your holiday campaigns aren't already in motion, you might be missing out on leads.

Here are some tips that can help your company separate itself from a tidal wave of holiday marketing campaigns. You'll bring in customers and create a positive image during a hectic time of the year.

Host a Social Media Contest

Holiday marketing is flooded with great deals every year, and there's nothing wrong with you joining the chorus. This year use the gift-giving spirit of the holidays to not only engage existing customers through your social media channels but also to attract new customers by hosting a contest or giveaway for a free product or service.

Social media contests can be as simple as "share this" or "like this" to get customers entered, or you could ask your customers to do something creative like record a video or take a picture. The latter will get your customers more involved than simply clicking a link and will keep your company at the forefront of their minds while they're preparing their entry.

Give Back to Your Community

Giving back doesn't have to be part of a holiday sale or a contest. You can do something truly philanthropic during the holiday season by participating in or sponsoring charitable events in your community. Whether you're volunteering or making donations, giving back to your community is a good way to show your customer base that you care.

Take for example Food Network's partnership with "Share Our Strength" and the "No Kid Hungry" campaign. Food Network is using its massive social media reach (its Twitter account has 3.78 million followers) to fight child hunger. Food Network asked its fans to bake treats at home and share pictures of them on social media with the hashtag #BakeItForward. For every entry in the #BakeItForward campaign, Food Network is donating $1 (worth 10 meals) to No Kid Hungry.

Go Against the Grain

Black Friday has quickly become the busiest shopping day of the year and retailers are constantly fighting to get a bigger piece of the (pumpkin) pie. Many stores have started opening on Thanksgiving Day in an attempt to bring in more and more customers during the four-day weekend. However some companies, such as Nordstrom, Costco and Dillard's, have taken a stand against being open on Thanksgiving Day, and REI took it a step further this year.

REI will be closed on Black Friday this year and announced its decision with the hashtag #OptOutside on Twitter, earning respect from many for allowing its employees to enjoy time with friends and family during the holiday. Going against the grain this holiday season — in this case not opening when many of your competitors are — is one way to show your employees some love and to get some good PR.

Have you developed any tried and true holiday marketing tactics that helped your business get customers and respect? Let us know in the comments.