The start of Q4 is hectic – summer is over, school is back, and everything that got put off during vacation-filled Q3 is back with a vengeance. Plus, in a few short weeks, the holiday season (love it or hate it) will be here.
If you’re a retail marketer, the arrival of the holidays is great news: an average 30% of yearly retail sales occur during the holiday season. For B2B, things are less clear. Isn’t everyone out of office anyways? Shouldn’t a generic email saying “thanks for a great year” suffice? It might. But it should be considered the absolute bare minimum.
In this post, we’ll bust a few common myths we hear about B2B holiday marketing, and share some inspiration for your most engaging and effective holiday campaign yet.
Many people believe B2B holiday marketing is a waste of time and effort. While no marketing campaign has guaranteed ROI, we don’t recommend writing off the end of Q4 and waiting until January. This time of year does have its challenges, but there are also some unique opportunities.
Let’s start by talking about some common misconceptions:
Myth #1: Everyone is on vacation and/or too busy to absorb any content.
This is rarely true in practice. Plus, even if your audience is busy, they will still have pockets of free time – snacking on holiday leftovers after everyone else has gone to bed, or waiting to board a flight that’s been delayed. During these times they’ll be checking their devices, catching up on things.
Our advice to capture their attention: keep it light. Holiday content should be skimmable, less technical, and more fun.
If you’re looking to hire more people in the new year, this is a great time to think about talent branding. Some fun ideas to get started: a Q&A series with individual employees, or a “books we loved this year” feature where everyone shares their favorite reads.
Myth #2: Everyone has already spent all of their budget for the year.
This is another common belief that isn’t always true. Many companies have a “use it or lose it” policy for annual budgets. They’ll actually be looking for ways to spend before the end of the year, or risk their budget shrinking next year. In these cases, you don’t want to wait until January to get in touch.
There are also strategic reasons for B2B holiday marketing. While they may not be looking to spend immediately, many buyers and decision-makers use this time to create their budgets for next year. You want them to remember your brand during this time.
Your Q4 marketing efforts may or may not pay off right away. Either way, you’ll be positioned as a valuable resource going into the new year.
Myth #3: Holiday marketing is cringe-worthy and overdone.
We get it – it seems like every brand you’ve had any sort of interaction with uses the holidays as an excuse to spam your inbox.
Our advice to stand out from the barrage of impersonal content: be generous and genuine.
If your business does any charitable work or donates to a good cause, this is a good time to highlight that. You should also think about what you have to offer – perhaps an e-book, a white paper, or even links to interesting things you’ve been reading.
To come across as genuine in your emails, stay away from HTML and image-heavy templates. Instead, we recommend reader-style emails. A reader is a simple, plain-text email from a real person that includes links to relevant, useful content. By daring to forgo flashy graphics in favor of actual substance, this type of email sticks out from the crowd – not only do people open these emails, they even reply!
Now that you’re convinced B2B holiday marketing is worth it, here are a few (evergreen) bonus tips:
- Know your audience and tailor your message. If you sell to an industry that gets extra busy at this time of year (ahem… retail), keep it short and sweet, or wait until after the new year to re-engage.
- Be culturally sensitive and inclusive. Don’t wish non-US clients a happy Thanksgiving, or make assumptions about what religious holidays people celebrate.
- Start planning early! Q4 comes and goes especially fast. To get the creative juices flowing, take a look at last year’s Q4 – what did and didn’t work? What will you do differently this year?
The bottom line
Despite popular wisdom, holiday marketing is not just for B2C brands. With the right approach, B2B startups can use this time of year as an opportunity for smart positioning and quick wins.
- Close the year with a bang: 10 Q4 marketing campaign ideas
- 7 things your B2B marketing team should be doing on October 1st
- The best Marketing calendar for your team: a step-by-step guide