On Christmas (and holiday marketing)

Have we reached peak Christmas yet?

It’s an interesting question to ponder for marketers out there. The onslaught consumers receive from companies begging for a greater share of their holiday shopping money has grown steadily in the digital era. Companies in a wide variety of industries – from auto to consumer electronics to toys – devote almost their entire year’s marketing budget toward the holidays.

It has grown and grown, pushing its way into new channels, and new months (August was the first mention I saw this year). But there is a limit. Isn’t there?

At what point are we pushing people away? At what point is there just not enough attention to go around?

I think we’ve hit it. Sure, some companies may see greater marketing ROIs this year than last. But on the whole, if you look at the total ROI from all the holiday marketing in the United States this year, do you think we’d see an increase over last year? I’d be surprised.

So what’s next? Convince consumers there are other times (maybe better times) to spend their money? The smart companies are probably already on top of it.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Market Yourself like Flo and Jan


Toyota has Jan. Progressive has Flo. These are two companies that are creating characters to represent their companies in the public eye.

The success of Flo likely spawned Jan, but I can’t say that for sure. But what is clear is that this is becoming more common among companies trying to connect with their customer base.

This is a great example of branding done right. You are associating that character with your company so that when a customer thinks about one, they naturally think about the other.

So how can you follow suit?

  1. Create a character to represent your company
  2. Make that character very likable, relatable, and knowledgeable
  3. Show customers like me interacting with that character in a positive way
  4. Use that character in all marketing


We’ve seen it before, a failure by a company or individual to understand what the unsubscribe option is for. But this is one of the worst I’ve seen yet.

Upon unsubscribing from an email that I never subscribed to in the first place, I got this message:

unsubscribe fail2.png

And sure enough, that was followed by this email:

unsubscribe fail3.png

If I don’t want to receive emails from you, I certainly don’t need an email telling me you won’t be sending me emails anymore. And it should not take someone telling you that for you to get it. That should come from your own common sense rules of email marketing.

Fix it!

Don't Use Tragedy to Sell

The last time I wrote about this topic, I wrote about how mass shootings result in increases in gun sales. This time, we’re talking about the Boston Marathon. Epicurious, a site “for people who love to eat”, committed one of the seven social media sins following the tragic bombings that occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

“Boston, our hearts are with you. Here’s a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start today.”

That was a tweet linking to a recipe the morning after the tragedy. Really?

When are companies going to learn that it’s never going to be a good idea to use a tragedy as an opportunity to market to people.

Take it as a rule: trying to capitalize off of a tragedy will always hurt more than it helps.

You’re going to get yourself into a PR nightmare. You will have to fire someone ‘responsible’ for the incident. You will have to publicly apologize, drawing more attention to how ridiculous and insensitive your call to action was.

Some companies are in the very lucky (thought maybe uncomfortable) position to capitalize when bad things happen. But that happens without marketing.

Less is More: Feedly Email Review

Email marketing is simple. Don’t over-think it.

Today’s proof comes with the ridiculously simple email that I got from Edwin, CEO of Feedly. The email is short and sweet, welcoming me to the service. See it here (click to view it larger):

When Google announced the impending shuttering of Google Reader, a service people have come to know and love, Feedly became the go-to replacement. It seems that they have every intention of making the most out of this fortunate situation they find themselves in – going so far as to solicit feedback from new users and preparing a tutorial specifically for people switching from Google Reader.

This is an example of communicating a simple message effectively, and gaining satisfied and loyal customers because of it.

Thanks Edwin!