Love him or hate him, Santa Claus is one of the most recognized and loved brands in the world; one that children have adored and parents embraced for centuries.
Lets take a minute and look at what marketing lessons one can take from this cultural icon.
Stick with what customers recognize
See a man on your roof, trying to squeeze himself into your chimney, and you’d probably call the cops….. unless perhaps he’s dressed in a bright red robe.
(Either way, you are better off informing the authorities)
Santa would not have been Santa, if not for his distinct red robes, flowing hair and big white beard.
This consistent portrayal of Santa’s image over the years, has engraved a representation into our minds;
and as a result, lead to a subconscious association with Father Christmas.
Brands who have stuck to their CORE branding styles and brought about incremental changes to their corporate persona are not surprisingly – some of the most valued brands.
I’m not saying that rebranding or changing marketing styles is wrong, but it makes better sense to make something that works – and then sticking to it.
Have you ever wondered, what it is that we really love about Christmas?
The smell of freshly baked Christmas cookies, twinkling Christmas tress all around, the sound of carols in the air, kids lining up at a mall to sit on Santa’s lap,
the promise of gifts or sipping a hot glass of eggnog on a cold winter’s night ?
The answer is – All of that and much more, for Christmas has become –
a distinct multi-layered experience.
Marketing is first about creativity and then about experience extension.
The digital age has brought in platforms that help carry over the brand experience in new cost effective ways.
Strengthen your brand by standardizing email signatures, creating unique storefronts and hey, maybe even have a “corporate cologne” that the team wears when they interact with customers.
Always sell a promise, the product will sell itself
So how did this fictitious character earn his celebrity status?
Simple, great “word of mouth marketing”
Children eagerly anticipate the coming of Christmas, not just for the gifts – but for the “experience ecosystem” that surrounds Christmas.
Coca Cola (Drops of Joy), Panasonic (Ideas for life) and Red Bull (Gives you wings) spend millions of dollars to put their brand vision out there – just to sell that experience – and it works !
Marketers don’t always need to sell customers a solution. (Dont sell Coke as a refreshment or Red bull as a drink to help you stay awake at work)
Customers like to figure out solutions themselves, and are more likely to connect with an inspirational story that surrounds a product .
Effective Marketers Are Storytellers
As advanced as we think we may be, our fundamentals haven’t really changed.
We still all need love (online or offline), need a sense of purpose
and love a good story!
4) Planning : Really know your customers
Everyone knows that Christmas Eve is Santa’s night to shine.
But what we forget is how much planning and strategy go into making that night a major success.
It takes an entire year of preparation to get things right !
Santa reads letters from children and painstakingly makes a list of what each child wants for Christmas. His methodical approach is what makes sure that each child gets what he wants. Santa listens – He doesn’t ASSUME
Effective Marketers Make No Assumptions
As the candid saying goes, Assuming makes an ass out of you and me ( ass-u-me) History is full of examples, where brands failed to understand their customers.
People don’t really question their own assumptions and most professional marketers often “jump the gun” spilling out a solution based on what
“think they customers want”.
Even companies like Apple have had their fair share of failures, driving them to near bankruptcy – see some of them here
So start listening and taking notes in finding
out what your customers really value…. you may be surprised by what you find
(Ads that probably sounded good at a marketing meeting !)
As kids, we woke up every 25th morning and found gifts under the Christmas tree, a plate sprinkled with cookie crumbs and an empty glass of milk – all bearing witness to Santa’s late night visit. This was true every year despite extreme weather conditions, dad losing his job, moving to a new house, or the ever increasing visa requirements (if you lived in the Middle East)
Santa was the epitome of reliability! And thus earned a special place in our hearts.
Business and brands are no different…Except unlike expectant children, customers have expectations every day.
Successful marketing strategies are those that reflect the truth about a business and its vision. Not lofty claims that suggest that their own brand sits on the throne next to the mighty Zeus on Mount Olympus.
Customers are more likely to believe and stick to an honest brand, simply because they never feel that they were cheated or lied to.
The fact that everyone LOVES Santa but not everyone BELIEVES in him, is in itself a testament to the brilliance in how the “Brand Santa” is sold.
Most of us believed in Santa when we were kids and continued to love him – despite growing up. Products are no different and the secret to creating that mental stamp, is appealing to the right customer at the right time.
Even fairly generic products (such as bottled water, soft drinks and telecom providers) have realized the importance on selling their USP to a niche versus the broad – miss and hit approach.
Identifying your main audience minimizes misunderstanding and helps deliver
High-value information that THEN stimulates a customer to go and take action.
Santa wouldn’t be Santa without his team of elves and trusty reindeer?
Do you think he’d be able to read all of our letters, be painstakingly reliable, or jolly and delightful if he didn’t have a team to help him with all his Christmas responsibilities?
Of course not, just like Santa, marketers need to develop relationship with suppliers and their customers alike –
No one ever built an empire alone…
Great marketers focus on building a relationship to have trust, admiration, and credibility that extends beyond business transactions.
Not to mention people will buy more and refer to from those they like and trust.