Geoff Livingston: Three Holiday Marketing Etiquette Tips

Guest post by Geoff Livingston. Geoff is an author, public speaker and marketing strategist.

The holidays are upon us. As you prepare your Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday promotions, you may consider marketing towards individual holidays and faiths.

As a person of Jewish descent, I’m always fascinated with how people approach this issue of religion with their holiday marketing.

Everyone knows that Christmas is the big driver of holiday specials. Seventy three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians.

Some businesses are faith-based, and clearly cater to one faith or another.

But most cater to all types of people and faiths. For them, keeping a non-denominational approach to marketing is just good business. Why alienate any particular customer segments because of their faith?

Here are three tips to consider around the delicate topic of faith during seasonal marketing efforts:

1) Want to be Safe? Say Happy Holidays

The most inclusive way of marketing during the holiday season is to simply say Happy Holidays. It’s non-denominational, and unoffensive to any party. For some, it could even mean New Years.

2) Market to the Date

Hannukah begins Saturday, December 8, 2012, and ends in the evening of Sunday, December 16, 2012. Christmas is obviously December 25. Kwanzaa is December 26-January 1. And Ramadan was last July.

In the case of the prior three, market to the holiday, and specifically its date. Use premiums, shipping deadlines, incentives and other marketing initiatives around the date. For example, “Buy by December 20 to ensure arrival by Christmas Eve.”

If you do decide to market against the Christmas holiday, it’s smart to also at a minimum level mentions the other holidays. This signals to non-Christians that you welcome their business.

3) Think Through Your Imagery

If you’re a Christian faith-based business, it makes sense to show the Nativity or other traditional imagery. It’s Christmas, right?

However, if your business caters to all denominations, you should consider your holiday imagery in the context of political correctness. Meaning, choose images that are more palatable for all faiths. Think reindeers, snowmen, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, elves, and even throw in a token dreidel or menorah.

Your color choices and motifs also signal the holiday you are specifically marketing towards, and who you want to serve. Consider some of the common etiquette people use to select their holiday cards.

If every single promotion is red and green and says Christmas, you will turn away other audiences.

What holiday marketing etiquette tips would you share?

Geoff Livingston is an author, public speaker and strategist who helps companies and nonprofits develop outstanding marketing programs. He brings people together, virtually and physically for business and change. A former journalist, Livingston continues to write, and has authored three books.

Image: mlamprou (Creative Commons)

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