People love holiday bullshit.
I'm talking eyes rolling back in their head, veins bulging, 19 exclamation points "loooooooooooooooooooove" it.
Have you seen what happens at Pottery Barn when they release that yearly catalog (in like, August) with a cover shot of a mildly cute kid with rosy cheeks catching a damn snowflake on her tongue? Holiday-bullshit starved shoppers across America open their mailbox, take one glance at that catalog and white-smoke their tires on the way to the mall to go buy all the sterling silver decorative pine cones they can grab. Thousands of Toyota Siennas being driven like they were just stolen by felons who just escaped and are "not going back."
So even though it's November and half of the retailers around you have been slinging their clove and allspice-studded Jingle Bells horsehockey for like 2 months already, we're going to hook you up with some quality holiday bullshit.
Did you know it's still considered "egg nog" even when it's made with rubbing alcohol? Well, it is. Those nay saying bartenders and "doctors" are wrong. So pour yourself a glass and allow us to isopro-pell your marketing into the gooey center of center of the holiday madness.
Holiday Bullshit: Stock Photos
Wait, you sell some product or service that's even remotely connected to Christmas and you don't have pictures of pomegranates covering every inch of your website? Unless you're trying to keep a low profile because your business is a front for some black market organ-trafficing yard sale – you gotta get some pomegranate porn up asap.
The image above is totally free and it looks like this fruit was just ripped apart and left for dead for no reason at all. Yes, that's a good thing. No, I have no idea why. People are weird as hell.
We'll even add some nice shapes that you can put a "20% off all used catheters" text on.
Look, here's one with festive little doily edges:
We're practically printing money for you here.
You smell that? That strong whiff of pine, grain alcohol, cranberry, and – deep inhale – what is that, some kind of woodland bird?
You're damn right it is. Just look at this seasonal-as-F tablescape! Rosemary, cranberries, lime, flowers, a bird for some damn reason, and a mason jar! You use this photo right now and you could sell medicine that makes people grow hair in their mouths. There's literally nothing you couldn't sell with it.
Here's a lady having a mental breakdown holding a Christmas ornament like WWII grenade with a loose pin:
Hold the motherf***ing phone. Is that a horse in a jacket?! Just charge my credit card for whatever you're selling with this picture. I don't even need to know what it is.
I actually know the background on this picture: That horse's name is Roy. My Mom went to college with the lady who owns him. She passed away in the spring and the guy who took this picture drove the same car as her. Roy saw the car and thought it was her.
Kinda hurts your heart a little bit, doesn't it?
That's all bullshit, but that feeling you just got is exactly how marketers use stories to manipulate you during the holidays when you're the most emotionally vulnerable. Suicides spike at Christmas for a reason, folks. And it's all Folger's fault.
Look how cozy this little tray of (slightly burnt?) leaves and hot chocolate and debris is:
If you want to make people feel all snugly and warm (or if you sell something that helps people get the damn mulch out of their house), this pic is for you. And yes, it's free.
Holiday Bullshit: Design Tip
If you don't have a designer or any design skills to speak of, you can still make lovely holiday images to use on your website, ads, or your social feeds using Canva.
- Grab any of these photos (or go swipe some nice free holiday images here or here)
- Upload it to Canva (be sure you're using the high-res version)
- Start your design (be sure to pick the right format from the top rail where it says "create a design" – you can't resize with the free version of Canva)
- Start with a blank layout and add your image as the entire background
- Go to elements and find a nice shape to drop in – your text will sit on this
- Then go to text and either hit text and just style it yourself, or grab one of their pre-made text templates
- Pick the fonts that your brand uses (or are closest to them), add a logo, and export that sucker
- You can also upload your photo and then pick a filter for it that lets your text stand out without a shape beneath it
- Get all fancy and add some elements like little icons, lines, or illustrations – or just use one of their pre-made templates
I don't want to come off like an intolerable sourpuss who hates all Christmas-themed marketing. I too loooooooooooooooooooove Christmas and plenty of its ads.
But it has to be authentic.
Look at John Lewis. The English retailer is the absolute king of "holiday adverts."
These ads are gorgeous. Wonderful storytelling. Beautifully shot. And they're so authentic. They capture the beauty of a gift, something the store sells a lot of.
So as you work on your ads and posts and website updates with blue spruce and ribbons – make sure you're not just slapping a Santa hat on a gift card for assault rifles.
No, really, please don't.
And you, Patrick Saab, what are you even doing? Don't encourage people to give an oil change as a Christmas present. Take a second to think about all the oaf husbands who will see this and thinks it's an acceptable gift for the woman who birthed 8 children for him. Irresponsible.
The point is, the holidays are a wild time in this country. How you approach your marketing during these mittened months requires careful calculation.
Be authentic. Only plaster your walls with pomegranates if your product or service has a real tie-in to Christmas. Or pomegranates, I guess.
And if you see a Toyota Seinna doing 105 on a bike path, get to safety.
Story Block Christmas Special:
Ok, ok, it's not really a Christmas special. But it is free and it is important to make sure you don't have a big hole in marketing plan that you didn't even consider.