Marketing Lessons from Santa
If a nonexistent man can change the world and millions of people with a message of joy then his marketing plan surely works. Right? Then what has Santa been doing right all these years that we can learn from?
Santa’s message is short–joy. His target market– children and the young at heart. When you think of name Santa, you automatically associate it with giving, kindness, thoughtfulness, joy, magic, and usually a lighter heart.
Yet, his campaign began long ago in another country with a different brand. There have been songs about him, plays, movies, and more TV shows than any other brand.
Let’s examine how Santa markets. Afterwards, let take a few minutes and see how it compares to you. It is natural to feel intimidated being compared to Santa, everyone feels that way at first. First, kick the intimidation in the “ass”ets. You can’t compete and you don’t want to.
Be inspired. Santa’s given you proof it can be done. Santa looks invisible until you see the children’s eyes and smiles. Even as adults, we set aside our worries and allow joy in. And Santa does this without saying a word — proves the power of nonverbal communication. And let’s not forget his profitability!
Santa uses a solid yet standard psychological system that has stood the test of time and distance. His first main marketing principle is consistency. For hundreds of years he’s delivered one brand, one message and a powerful visual image. It works for him, thus, it will work for you. Consistency includes the ripple effect. Every one of your contacts ripples the world. The tree that falls in the quiet forest is heard.
Your message needs to be consistent everywhere in your business — voice service, web site, you’re your shopping, or sitting waiting for a bus. This means being consistent 24/7 and being whom you want to attract. It is walking our talk. Consistency makes bank accounts ring jingle bells.
Take another moment, think of where you are or want to be consistent in your business. Make a list of three each day and the go make the changes. Check your e-mail signature and tone, business card, and web site. Is it consistently saying the one word that you want people to remember? One uncomplicated word. People remember simple. KISS it — keep it short and simple.
Like Santa’s “joy,” what one word do you want people to walk away with every time they connect with you or your business? Mine is “inspired.” It is the one word that I want everyone to receive whenever they connect with me. What is your word? This is a word that tickles your Twinkie and you want it to ring bells whatever roof top it lands.
The word will have derivatives, like inspirational. If you look up “joy” in the “Flip Dictionary” (Barbara Ann Kipfer), its derivatives are: amusement, beatitude, bliss, cheerfulness, delight, ecstasy, elation, enjoyment, excitement, exhilaration, felicity, festivity, gaiety, gladness, glee, happiness, jubilation, mirth, pleasure, rapture, satisfaction, and solace.
Santa’s second marketing principle is his ability to leverage resources and spread his message. He provides the message, doesn’t wait until we figure out what to say, and tell you exactly what he wants you to say to others. Give others the tools to smoothly give your message away. People appreciate having the “right” words.
Third, when you connect the word with positive energy it becomes a trend. If you focus on the negative aspects then it is a fad. Words connect feelings and energy and can be rocky or smooth. Smooth is easier to share. Fads are still important because they help with short-term revenue and keep the trend alive and moving. Many toys are fads placed inside the Christmas trend.
Let’s take a look at Santa’s hat, furry red suit and boots. Do you know anyone who delivers their product on a sleigh, with reindeer, and gifts in the middle of the night? Yet, it’s made one heck of an impact in nonverbal communications, hasn’t it? The fourth Santa principle creating a difference. Santa, like FEDEX, stands out with his delivery system. The US mail carrier comes close but still misses the mark. Yet, their uniforms don’t compare, do they?
Okay, another “thinking” break. What do you that is different or makes a difference? Do you where a uniform or deliver your products in some different way? What can you do that would be simple, effective, and make a difference? Create a list of small and large. How about your phone or e-mail response rate? Maybe you only want to deliver one way, by FEDEX or by hand.
Make a list of your customer contact points. What difference can you make at those points that would make a difference in quality to your customer? Sell ebooks, offer a printed by mail version. How does your business card show your difference?
Here is a KEY point to the difference principle never mention. Shh…it’s our secret. The difference must also be customer-oriented.
Let’s brainstorm together. A professional organizer removes clutter. They could choose the words: clutter remover. Chuckle, similar to a trash remover. A coach could use Rudolph as an inspiration. Like the red-nose reindeer, they both provide a beacon for clearer navigation. Then isn’t a life coach a “life navigator”. Both Rudolph and a life coach also “lights the way for others.” Chuckle, love to brainstorm.
Fifth, Santa checks his list to see who has been naughty and nice. Do you have a nice list? What puts them on your good list or moves them to the naughty list? What are the “gifts” for the people on the “nice” list? Create a possible gift list, let your brainstorming powers jump all over the place. How do you treat your list? Is it in a shoe box or on the computer but not backed up? Do you stay in contact with your list? How often?
Sixth, Santa gives first and then receives his cookies and milk. Are you asking for the cookies and milk first? Psychologically, people like people who first give their time, money or knowledge. It sends the message, “Here I am, let me show you why you want to trust me.” Give and then be a gracious receiver. Tell them whether you like chocolate, 2% milk or a Diet Coke with your cookies.
Know where the boundary is on how much you give so that your energy doesn’t change to anger. Even Santa has boundaries. Stop now and create a list of gift possibilities. “What can you give?” Give with an unchained heart, clear boundaries, no attached expectations, and success will connect with you.
The seventh Santa principle is his loyal and life long customers. Even though the relationship changes with his customer’s age, his message of joy and good cheer remains generation after generation. Santa ties you into a solid loyalty program that people want to keep. His technique is “customer create customer.” Quite different from other marketing messages of “advertising creates customers.”
Deep breath, we coming to the close, how do your customers create other customers? Leverage this resource. It’s cheaper too. What happened to the customers that bought from you this past year? What are your loyalty building policies and procedures? None, then you need to focus in and create one. Don’t let customers fall of your sleigh. Go strap them in with seat belts. Yes, Santa’s sleight has seat belts now.
Okay, you’re sold. You want to market like Santa. Did you stop in-between each one, take notes, and know how you currently stand on each of Santa’s principles? Are you willing to play full out, as Santa does? Borrow Rudolph’s nose and get some support to help light your way. Or borrow one of the other reindeer and create a new direction?
Okay, find your Santa hat, sit down with milk and cookies, spread your notes out and make your priority list and make one decision. Which one do you want to tackle first? Which one will make the biggest difference? Make a list of messages with your one word that you want others to share.
Let my inspiration jump from my heart to yours. Then pass it along to someone else to inspire again — “customer to customer” or in this case “reader to reader.” Good tidings to all and to all a good night.
Catherine is a veteran entrepreneur and communications
master coach. Additional articles, newsletters, workshops,
and other information is available at: