Santa’s Marketing Strategy

When you look for someone to model your business after, you should look no further than that marketing expert who has been around for centuries.

His business slows a bit during downturns in the economy but even recessions haven’t stopped him from being one of the best marketeers in the world.

Who is this marketing guru?

It’s the man with the white beard and red flannel suit who still uses reindeer for transportation.  This CEO of Santa Claus Inc. uses plain old psychology and simple marketing that has stood the test of time.

Think that I’m joking?  I would have thought so, too, but I’ve made many of the same mistakes that you are making right now and a simple analysis of how his marketing differs from mine showed me what I needed to do to get back on track.

Want to know more?

The foundation of Santa’s marketing strategy is built on his vision and “why” he started his business in the first place.

Throughout the generations, his brand, his message, his white beard, red suit, and reindeer have remained consistent.  He has made the word “hope” his message.  Every kid hopes that when he wakes up on Christmas morning  he will find presents under the tree and his stocking loaded with goodies and not lumps of coal.

Yet, most companies get tired of their own brand and venture down a different path. They change the name, the logo, and even their target market as a new opportunity beacons.

I’ve been as guilty of this as many of you.  My vision of helping people who wanted to start and grow a successful gift basket company has always been there.  But the names and even the targets have meandered from GiftBasketNetwork to GiftBusinessOwners.  Even the magazine changed from Gift Entrepreneurs to Gift Retailers Connection to Gift Business Insider.  This is a mistake as it confuses people.

McDonalds made the same mistake.  Originally a company that catered to families whose kids would ask to go to McDonalds, they transitioned into one that catered to teenagers encouraging them to hang out there.  As a result, their message was diluted and they didn’t do as good a job marketing to either group.

Santa didn’t make that mistake.  He knows that his customers are kids.  If he had spread his marketing thinner and decided to go after teenagers and seniors, he would have had to give up the red suit and reindeer.  And the magic would have disappeared.

Most niches are huge and niches have a way of expanding by themselves.  Many companies lose their focus and give a list of reasons why you should buy from them.  Santa sticks to one simple message:   Be a 'good' kid so you can keep hoping!

Santa’s message works because he is different.

Just like Santa, you deliver gifts.  But do you stand out from the crowded field like he does?  It’s really important to discover how your message differs from the thousands of other companies that deliver gifts?

Too often, we look at the top companies out there and try to copy what they do.  We don’t have the deep pockets that they have and can never compete with them and their message.  Each of us needs to create a marketing message that is different enough that it will be remembered.  McDonalds has the yellow arches.  Nike has “Just Do it!”  What is yours?

Your unique feature doesn’t have to be the only thing that you do well or that you want remembered and it doesn’t have to be something that is so different that no one else is doing it.

Think about it.  Walmart and Target sell many of the same things and often at the same price but they have different reputations.  Walmart advertises low prices while Target emphasizes the shopping experience.  That is what each is known for.

But being different isn’t enough either.  You must have a benefit for those customers.

Our messages tend to focus on “we want your business.”  But take a look at what Santa does.

Santa is all about giving.  When someone gives you something — whether it is time, money, or knowledge —you tend to trust them.  If they ask you for a favor, you find it hard to refuse.

When people go online looking for a gift, they don’t know who to trust.  They have the fear of being taken advantage of so they turn to the big companies and the ones who have the highest ratings on Amazon.

How are we to compete with that?

Use your website or your networking opportunities, if you market locally, to build that trust.  Identify your potential customers and decide what you can give them.  Online, it can be testimonials from satisfied customers, information, or even a small sample mailed to them.  Take some of those scrumptious chocolate covered cookies packed in a cello bag with a cute tag to your next networking event.  Contact that office whose business you want to have and offer to bring some samples to their next office meeting.

Ree Drummond, known as the Pioneer Woman, didn’t wake up with a big nationwide business.  She started with a tiny blog and gave women what she knew they wanted.  She gave them wit and humor and introduced them to the Marlboro Man.  She posted recipes with instructions and pictures.  Her success was built on giving her readers (who are her customers) amazing content that they devoured.

Play Santa.  It works.

You may say, “But I don’t know my customers.  I don’t know what they might want or like.”

Santa does.  He knows that they are kids.  He knows when they’ve been bad or good and even when they’re awake or sleeping.

Now think about your best customer.  What do you know about her?  When is her birthday?  Does she like coffee, tea, or neither?  Does she have a family?  Is she the CEO of a company or a stay-at-home mom?  Is it a she or perhaps a he?

Santa’s marketing works well because he knows what those kids want or need.  He doesn’t deliver a football to a kid that wants the latest computer game.

Knowing our customers allows us to communicate to the right people in the right way.

Your ideal customer isn’t everyone.  She may not even be anything at all like you or your friends.  Look at what you are offering and think about who wants that and who would be willing to pay the price you charge.

You are most likely a creative do-it-yourselfer.  If you go after others like you, they’ll just look at your gifts and say, “I can make that myself.”  Your business exists to help a certain type of person and often that is not someone like you.

When you market to someone who wants what you have, you don’t have to push your gifts onto them or lower your prices to sell to them.  They already want it.

The best way to figure out who that ideal customer is to imagine her in your mind.  Give her a name and decide what she is like.  This person won’t be your only customer.  You’ll probably have lots of customers like her but there will be stragglers too.  But
concentrate on her and the others will follow.

The kid that Santa markets to grows up to be wiser but he doesn’t forget Santa Claus Inc.  He uses Santa’s marketing to influence his own kids to be nice rather thannaughty.  This loyalty program is the way that the magic of the man in the white beard and red suit is passed from generation to generation.

Santa’s marketing plan may sound old-fashioned  but it works.  Does yours work as well?

Compare his plan with yours and see if you can learn anything

Here are the basics of Santa’s marketing success.

  1. He has a strong brand and has been consistent with his message.
  2. Santa Claus Inc. is a business with a difference. No matter how many gift companies are competing with you, your products and business are different in some way.  You just have to dig deep to find out how.
  3. Santa builds trust from the first gift that kid receives on Christmas day. You may not be able to give a gift to every potential customer but you can build trust in other ways.
  4. Santa knows each of his customers. He knows what they need and like.  You don’t have Santa’s psychic ability but you can use surveys and other ways to learn what your target market needs and wants.  Zero in on those individual customers.  Take them to coffee and talk to them.  Get to know them better at networking meetings.

You know that your gifts are good.  They have to be.  Now use Santa’s marketing strategies to get them in the hands of those customers and make them come back for more.

Does this give you some ideas about how you can use Santa's marketing strategy for your business?  Share them in the comments below.



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