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Marketing tips from unlikely sources - Father Christmas


It’s that time of year again.

That slightly manic, tinsel filled, calorie-fest that has us clapping with glee or longing for hibernation. Either way, it’s hard to escape the signs of Christmas – decorated trees, twinkling lights and the universally jolly figure of Santa Claus.

Who knew that timeless, present bringing character, was actually a black belt marketer ...



St. Nicolas? Father Christmas? Santa Claus? – think local, act global


No matter what he's called, he's globally recognized.  Across much of the planet you'll find a variation on the theme of Father Christmas, with a story to match, usually something country specific and always relevant to the present givers and getters.

  • Your brand needs to be consistent in fonts, imagery, colour and tone if your customers are going to notice and more importantly recognise and remember you 
  • Create a story for them.  Make it simple and easy to share 
  • Be in tune with your local market.  What do they want and need?


Ho Ho Ho


Father Christmas the brand, stands for something. Ask any child who Santa Claus is and they’ll immediately talk of gifts and happiness and good things (although the odd few may be terrified).

  • Do people have an emotional connection to your brand?  
  • Which images spring to mind when they think about your company?
  • Does your business have a personality which appeals to the audience it's trying to attract?


Santa Claus is everywhere


He’s on Christmas cards, you can visit him in stores and he can even send you a personalised video from the north pole.  Decades may pass, but Father Christmas has evolved to stay relevant to each new generation and makes sure you can find him wherever you look, throughout December and worryingly beyond.  He rocks omnichannel!

  • Make sure your customers can find you wherever they currently look for information (across social media, in print and in person)
  • Partner with other brands and influencers to increase your reach 
  • Be involved with relevant third parties, to show your understanding of the market and the choices your customers face


He only visits once a year


I swear I heard sleigh bells every Christmas eve, when I was a child. Anticipation is a big part of any experience and having to wait all year to see if you get what’s on your list, is quite a build up.

In this age of instant everything, making your customers wait is no bad thing, as long as you deliver something of value (in their terms) at the end of it.

  • Have you mapped your buyers journey from information gathering to sale?
  • Do you know how long your typical sales cycle is?
  • Does every part of your sales process, reinforce your brands reputation (for better or worse)?


He’s going to find out who’s naughty or nice


Santa Claus knows his customers and doesn’t treat them all the same way.

  • With free analytics there are no excuses for not knowing your audience 
  • Use social media to eavesdrop on topics, conversations and ideas
  • We all want personal service and having a real customer relationship always pays dividends


Santa delivers on his promises


Year after year those wonderful Elfs hit the mark in fulfilling requests. Santa always delivers - supplying what was asked for, on time and to schedule.  It’s why his brand is trusted and his followers are loyal.  It probably also helps that Santa’s main audience is unlikely to call north pole customer service if things go wrong.

The magic that changes buyers into loyal customers, happens when they experience your product.

  • Does it live up to expectations?  
  • Do you make buyers feel so great about spending their money with you that they immediately join your marketing team in spreading the word to friends and family?  
  • Delight your customers, exceed their expectations, not just once a year, but every time and watch your fan base grow


Best kept secret


There are various accounts of how this Christmas figure came into being, but ultimately he was created to capture imagination and unite an audience in the big conspiracy.

Surely there is no greater form of customer engagement than participation.  The success of projects like Kickstarter reinforce our need to feel involved and our love of supporting ideas that resonate with our own ideal world.

  • How do you make customers feel like they belong to your brand?
  • What could you do to keep your company in the customers mind, after the initial sale?
  • Humans love best kept secrets and find it difficult to keep them - tap into these traits 

Merry Christmas!


P.S. The festive dachshund of joy is my dog Walnut paying homage. Hat models own.


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What's the difference between how and why people search?

This Saturday my house will play host to my eldest child's birthday party.  What was I thinking?

As a result, I've been rather preoccupied researching the joys of pop cakes, which are basically the lollipop equivalent of a cupcake.

Such is the crossover life of a freelance marketer, that I couldn't help learning a bit more about how we make online choices in the process.

                                          (Photo by SAM_1574 herocakepops on flickr)

Here's how my search went.

1. Google ‘pop cake’



This was a pretty general search, designed to help me know what's out there, as well as whether this natty little confection is one word or two.  I'm at the start of my quest for uber mother status.

Such broad topic search is done early in the buying cycle.  It's top of the sales funnel stuff, returning a wide range of results while Google tries to decide my intent.


2. Google ‘POP bakery’



I've used this company before, so know the brand and can be quite specific in looking for it by name.

We search for brands as we get closer to making the purchase. Brands are familiar, comforting and perceived experts in their field.  We know what we like and trust what our friends suggest.  I'm now honing in for ideas from the professionals.

Pop bakery really are masters of the cake sphere.



3. Google ‘how to make pop cakes’



Inspired by what I've seen, I decide to make my own.  My search has turned to solving a particular problem, which is, I have no idea how to make pop cakes and need to be a domestic goddess by Saturday.  I'm on the hunt for a solution and my keywords have now grown to a phrase.  Google rejoices as being able to return authoritative links on the craft.



4. Google ‘pop cake bakery Edinburgh’



Now that I know I'll never have the patience, nor design prowess to make such stick based wonders, I admit defeat and go with a location specific search.  This tells me that pop cakes are known as cake pops in Edinburgh, a keyword I would never have used. At this stage Google gave up trying to make suggestions on related searches.


The moral of this story ...



We marketers generally dive straight into selecting our keywords, without considering the various stages of search and selection we all go through before making a purchase.  Search in reality is more ongoing discovery than instant fact finding.

Making sure your chosen keywords cover general, brand, solution and location searches, brings you one step closer to appearing on that elusive first page of returned results.

Break out the pop cakes!



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3 Simple Ways to Build Your Brand


Miscommunication, communication, couple thinking different things




Our world is very noisy. Thousands of pieces of marketing content are hurled at us every day and yet our ability to consume these communications remains unchanged.  What has changed is the attention we're willing to give any one thing, so much so, that it's even got it's own term - continuous partial attention.

Our brains are finely tuned to respond to messages which touch our hearts, teach us something new and, or present content in an unforgettable way.  In other words, nobody is interested in information anymore - entertain us, educate us and leave a lasting impression by all means, but don't expect a response if all you serve are the facts.

So how could your business take advantage of this human condition? Think like a publisher.


1. Make an emotional connection



Who is most likely to buy your product or service?. How are you going to convince them to choose your brand over the alternatives available? Answer -  make them feel something. Since hearts often rule heads, those brands which challenge us to become emotionally involved, often pique our interest and therefore get the sale. They don't call it retail therapy for nothing.
e.g. Hyundai message from space commercial 






2. Add the novelty factor



Using the very prim lady in the advert below, to talk about the delicate subject of poo, is both unexpected and funny. It's often the novelty of a companies approach which grabs our attention in the first instance. We like the new and the surprising, but be sure to tailor this to the audience you're trying to attract. Humour is a delicate balancing act.
e.g.  Poo pourri





3.  Be memorable



Making your brand a household name, is every marketers dream and yet much of the content on offer is full of well worn stereotypes and pat phrases (see this is a generic brand video).  We see the same things so often that they become invisible to us, losing their magic.

The mad men of yesteryear made products memorable by adding jingles and bold images.  Some things never change - Apple think different commercial or Nike Just do it 





Think of what you've liked, shared and talked about today and remember that your marketing has to resonate with real people in disguise as consumers, audiences and personas.

In the words of Viggo Mortensen “There's no excuse to be bored.  Sad, yes.  Angry, yes. Depressed, yes.  Crazy, yes.  But there's no excuse for boredom, ever”.

Go, create.



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Why do you need Social Media? [Video evidence]

First there was economics, then freakonomics and now socialnomics, a term coined to show the impact of social media on our everyday lifes. Feel left behind yet?