Don’t overdo the marketing messaging during the holiday season

By Mark G. Auerbach

“The holidays” have been center stage since the pumpkin spice parade towards Thanksgiving hit social media in August. By the time you read this article, retailers, arts groups with holiday fare and other are flooding social media with sales and ideas for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, the eight days of Chanukah, the twelve days of Christmas and beyond. Santa’s sleigh will hardly leave town before Valentine’s Day stuff is on the radar, followed by Easter Peeps. It’s endless.

Giving Tuesday is a prime example of marketing message overload. It’s a great concept: a day for nonprofits to encourage online philanthropy. Yet too many nonprofits don’t know of the premise that “less is more.. They flood email inboxes and social media channels with relentless determination until our minds turn them off. But they’re no exception. My local market has been hyping their Thanksgiving catering since the last “back to school” sale at the mall ended.

So, as a small business, navigate this rush with class.

On social media channels, put out a simple Thanksgiving message–a time to thank your staff and customers. Run it once the day before Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving morning. Refrain from posting the remainder of the day. If you’re closed for the holiday, post that news the previous day. Find some simple clip art. Do the same thing on New Year’s Day.

Now, as for Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa, be inclusive. If you’re highlighting all of the holidays with posts, it’s okay to say Happy Chanukah on Chanukah if you say Merry Christmas on Christmas. Sometimes “Season’s Greetings” is more inclusive. These messages should celebrate the season and not promote your business.

In traditional channels, you may be sending holiday cards or perhaps tokens of your appreciation. Several years ago, I decided to skip the cards, and sent a simple card that said, “In the spirit of the season, in lieu of fancy cards and gifts, we’ve chosen to support several local nonprofits who are working for greater good.” It was well received. Now, we use social media for that, with one message before Thanksgiving, one on the night before Giving Tuesday, and one on New Year’s Eve. The gist is the same. The message may vary slightly.

Partnering with a local group can enhance your visibility. Buy a playbill ad for local holiday production. Underwrite holiday programming on your public radio or TV station–a good way to be seen and heard in an uncluttered environment. Support a winter farmer’s market or food bank. Ask first how they acknowledge their donors. Buy some winter clothing for the shelters. That kind of charity get noticed by the media.

When the holidays promote goodwill and your message promotes goodwill, you stand out.


Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.Mark also produces ArtsBeat in print in The Westfield News Group, on radio for Pioneer Valley Radio and 89.5fm/WKB, an on TV at WCPC15.

Leave a Reply

The Self-Employment Survival Guide can help you succeed. Learn all about it here.

Self-Employment Survival Guide book cover