'Tis the season for corporate holiday cheer, which in this day and age means holiday email after holiday email, from every business contact you have ever made—and even probably some you haven’t. And a high proportion include their version of the dreaded holiday video.
Now, I’ve done competitive research on corporate holiday videos. They range from the mind-numbingly boring (the vast majority), to cringe-inducingly awkward (a healthy second), to the occasionally truly brilliant. Yes, brilliance is possible, but let’s just say it’s as rare as a snowflake in August.
Yet, for some reason—possibly peer pressure?—many companies I work with feel an uncontrollable compulsion to make and send their own every year.
Which takes me to my main point: from a marketing perspective, should you, as a small business or startup, invest the resources into making one?
To start with, let’s get the obvious out of the way. If you are in a business that a) needs to attract excellent employees, and/or b) your ability to successfully sell your services depends upon your reputation as awesome and possibly creative people (I’m talking about consulting firms, design firms, and medical practices, for instance, not companies that sell things), and you have tons of cash burning a hole in your pocket, and you are willing to commit the not-inconsiderable resources required to create a holiday video that falls into the brilliant category, then, by all means, go for it. It probably makes sense for you. People will gladly watch a brilliant, creative, and awesome bit of clever holiday cheer, and like you for it. You may not want to send it before the end of the year, but more on that later.
If, however, you are like the vast majority of small businesses, firms, and practices, your holiday communications are not the largest part of your marketing strategy, and nor should they be. It would be totally ridiculous to devote a large percentage of your budget to any marketing effort that is scheduled to go out during the one time of the year in which nearly everybody is massively distracted. Which means that any video you produced needs to be on the cheap, and therefore has a high likelihood of not being particularly interesting or fun. Not a brilliant marketing strategy, right? So why do it at all?
I know that some of you right now are thinking to yourself, “well, we don’t spend a lot on our holiday videos, and they are great!”. To which, I say, well, that’s possible. I have seen super low budget videos that rock, because the company has some amazingly creative person with the true touch of a filmmaker on staff. But just to make sure, I offer a challenge: find a friend that you trust to be brutally honest (both to themselves and to you) and ask them if they’d find your video interesting if they didn’t know you. (And if they do tell you it’s riveting, then please share it in the comments below so we can all enjoy it, too!)
See, as we’ve discussed before, people really aren’t that interested in your business except as it relates directly to them. They don’t care that you got an award, or wrote a case study. They don’t really care that you opened a new location. They really don’t care that you added a new employee or two. And since most holiday videos tend to focus on the featured business, and not much on the customer, they are by definition a snoozefest.
All of which is to say, you really don’t need to produce a holiday video, and in fact you probably shouldn’t. There are much more important things you can do with your resources.
But if you must, here’s a few tips:
Make it about your customers, not about you. And I mean really about your customers, not a sneaky way to talk about yourself in relation to your customers.
Make sure it’s fun to watch. And short. Spend your time and energy creating a really unique concept that can be executed on the cheap, and watched in under a minute.
Send it out a week or two into the new year. Yes, I mean it. I’ve tested it, and you get much better open rates and watch rates if you send out a new year’s celebration email instead of a holiday video. Why? Because you aren’t lost if the crowd of all the other holiday videos, and you hit people when they are back in the rut again, maybe not so thrilled about it, and looking for distractions.
Now, before I sign off, one caveat. If your goal for a holiday communication is a heartfelt reach out to your customers, a thank you for their support during year, and an honest-to-goodness attempt to let them know how special they are to you (in other words, less about traditional marketing, and more about personal connection), then by all means you should send something. But wouldn’t a handwritten note, no matter how short, mean a lot more than… a video?
Happy holidays (and small business marketing),
Katie & Theron
P.S. We wanted to add a bad holiday video at the bottom of this post because... irony. But we didn't make one this year, so we can't. But have a wonderful holiday season, and we'll see you in the new year!
At Urban Sherpa Marketing Co. we offer marketing advisory, strategic planning, and implementation services for small business and startups. Our goal is to make high-quality marketing possible for every business; no matter your size, we'll help you grow your business without blowing the bank.
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