This post was originally published on SocialBrandU.
This might be an embarrassing fact about myself, but if you ask me what my top 10 favorite movies of all time are, Christmas movies will take up a majority of the list. From the time I finish Thanksgiving dinner until New Years, I pack in as many Christmas movies as possible! As I’ve been watching my favorites this year, I’ve picked up on a few valuable social marketing lessons we can all learn from.
Miracle on 34th Street
Scene: When Kris Kringle directs customers to the store that has the toy they want at the best price, even if it isn’t Macy’s. His good deed actually has the opposite effect and drives even more business to Macy’s – turning occasional customers into loyal customers.
“Imagine a big outfit like Macy’s…putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial. It’s wonderful. I never done much shopping here before…but from now on, I’m going to be a regular Macy customer”
Lesson: Sincerity and Generosity Go A Long Way
Of course, sending customers to another store in order to boost sales is counter intuitive, and on paper seems like a terrible marketing strategy. But numbers and bottom lines do not account for the emotions of a customer. Obviously you don’t have to send people outside of your store, but being helpful to your customers and providing value, even if there’s no perceived benefit for you, is what makes your business stick out in a customers mind. It also makes your business the first to pop into their mind when searching for a product, or making a recommendation to a friend.
The other important lesson here is to be sincere. If you provide value to customers but make the language so heavy in self-promotion, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Providing fair, objective information will show that your business is genuine and can be trusted.
One example of a way you can provide value: Create a buying guide for a type of product you carry.
A Christmas Story
Scene: Ralphie gets his decoder ring and finally cracks the secret code…only to find out it’s a marketing message.
“Be sure to drink your Ovaltine. Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!”
Lesson: Don’t Speak in Corporate Marketing Terms
Social media has opened up a new, two way form of communication between companies and consumers. Companies are now expected to be human, to speak with a heart and a voice, and to have something to say besides a self-absorbed, self-promoting message. Broadcasting marketing messages all the time to your customers is the equivalent to closing your eyes, putting your fingers in your ears, and yelling at them. And since it’s very easy for customers to tune you out, you must communicate in a way that seeks to build a relationship with your customers.
One example of how you can avoid speaking in corporate marketing terms: Before you post something, imagine you are speaking face to face with one of your customers. Would you say the message in person to them? What reaction do you think you would you get?
Home Alone 2
Scene: Kevin is in the toy store checking out and the store owner, Mr. Duncan, engages in conversation with him. He then sees an opportunity to thank Kevin for his business, so he gives him an ornament off of his tree for free.
Mr. Duncan: You see that tree there? Well, to show our appreciation for your generosity, I’m gonna let you select an object from that tree that you can take home with you.
Kevin: For free?
Mr. Duncan: Oh yes.
Lesson: Engage, thank, and reward customers.
Be engaging and personal whenever possible, through social media and in person. This is an important advantage that small businesses have over larger companies – they can do this with sincerity & authority, and develop long lasting relationships with their customers. Also, thank customers whenever possible. You don’t have to do something special for every customer, but make it a habit to go above and beyond and give back to one customer a week. You can be sure that dazzling a customer like this will provide you with free word of mouth marketing that is quickly and easily shared through social media.
Reward your loyal customers and brand ambassadors. Is there someone that always likes your Facebook updates or Retweets your content, or someone that frequents your store and tells all their friends? Consider providing special incentives to these “super fans.”
One example of how you can reward customers: Create check in deals on Facebook or FourSquare that provide discounts or freebie’s to customers who check in a certain amount of times.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Scene: When Clark opens up his Christmas bonus envelope and instead of a check for the amount of the pool, it’s a subscription to the jelly of the month club.
If Clark Griswold had Twitter, his rant would have been a little longer than 140 characters when he opened that bonus check, but you can be sure he would have been vocal with how unhappy he was with his employer!
Lesson: Empower your employees who want to be positive brand ambassadors
Your team of employees can be a great group of cheerleaders for your brand – if they are passionate about it. But, they can also be your biggest critics if they aren’t treated right. Along with all the great benefits of social media, one of the downsides is that anyone can say anything about your company (whether your business is active on social media or not!). Do your best to keep your employees happy, involve and empower them, and develop their passion for your brand. You know who does this really well? Chick-Fil-A. I’m sure their employees are getting paid the same amount as employees at other fast food restaurants, but when I go in there I feel like every employee is a manager – like it’s their personal goal to help me and contribute to the positive image of Chick-Fil-A’s brand. If you build a staff like that, they can be a huge help with your social media efforts.
I read a great article recently about how Wal-Mart is hoping to involve all of their employees in their social media campaign – but they are missing one key ingredient. It’s a good read if you are interested in the topic: Why Walmart Is Making A Huge Social Media Mistake”
One example of how you can empower your employees to be positive brand ambassadors: Consider having a few knowledgeable employees monitor the company Facebook page and answer any questions or concerns customers post. Have them include their name to make it more personal and give the employee credit for their work. Oh and also, don’t replace their Christmas bonus with the Jelly of the Month.