An exclusive interview with Santa’s reindeer team reveals the agile marketing secrets that have made him so recognizable and successful.
Santa Claus has one of the most memorable and beloved brands in the world. He has persisted through economic recessions, depressions and wars, outsmarted phonies (think the Grinch) and endured philosophical adversaries. He is more than just a cultural icon; he is a marketing genius.
Santa is recognized the world over, even in areas where Christmas is not celebrated. His image has been appropriated in countless advertisements, movies, television programs, magazines, holiday cards, shopping malls, and even on mainstream media news outlets.
Whenever you see a plump mature man with a thick white beard, red nose and sparkling blue eyes, you think Santa Claus. Even if he’s not wearing a cushy red velvet suit with fluffy white cuffs and big black boots. Admit it. You do.
But how did he get to this point of global acclaim and celebrity? He had a little help from his agile reindeer marketing team.
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall Santa’s marketing reindeer, y’all? Santa’s eight marketing reindeer help him maintain his brand and identity all year long, not just when one foggy December night comes along.
We interviewed these magical marketing masters and each one shared a secret to Santa’s marketing success, along with a tip for how you can follow his example to grow your own brand and build up your business.
The following is what each reindeer had to say about Santa’s agile marketing secrets.
Santa’s brand is universally recognized. Whether you believe in him or not, call him Santa Claus, Pere Noel, Father Christmas or St. Nick, or recognize the karma-esque concept of the naughty or nice list, you have to agree that Santa has one of the strongest brands in the world. It has evolved over the years, as any good brand does. Did you know that Santa’s current image was originally based on a retired salesman? Marketing giant Coca-cola began using Santa’s likeness in its advertisements back in the 1920s.
Brander’s agile marketing secret:
Don’t let your business get lost in the crowd. Create a recognizable brand for your company and promote it consistently in all of your messaging. Dress your brand up in something as memorable as Santa’s red suit and have a tag line that sings as clearly as Santa’s jovial “Ho Ho Ho!”
Santa encourages conversation. He solicits letters. Children send him wish lists, drawings and fan mail, and moms and dads leave him little notes alongside milk and cookies. Not only does he initiate communication, he reads every single message he receives. All he asks of us is to tell him what we want. And he responds accordingly to the best of his ability.
Talker’s agile marketing secret:
Ask your clients and prospects what they want. Encourage them to stay in touch with you, and give them as many ways as possible to communicate with you. Set up suggestion boxes, send out surveys, take a poll, mail out easy-to-return comment cards, and pick up the phone once in a while to ask how you are doing as a service provider and what you could be doing better. Talk to your clients. And then listen to what they have to say.
Santa gives without expecting to receive anything in return, even in today’s highly consumerist society. Can your current marketing strategy claim the same? Everybody wants something for free. Santa never asks your children to sign contracts before delivering their Christmas presents (or lumps of coal, as the case may be). Imagine if you had to sign a contract promising to be nice every year before baristas would take your coffee order, before neighbors would invite you to backyard barbeques, before your barber would give you a shave and a haircut, or before your internet provider would turn your connection on.
Giver’s agile marketing secret:
Be generous in your marketing messages and in your sales approaches. Rather than pushing a clearly sales-oriented agenda, give your audience the answers to questions, solutions to problemsand the benefit of your wisdom. Give it freely and often. This will establish the trust and thought leadership you will need for that long-term, profitable relationship that will follow. Santa is a top-notch email marketer; he knows that email newsletters and social media pages are excellent vehicles for giving great advice, quality content and free (yet valuable) information that your market will appreciate.
Santa does something that no one else can do. Yes, he oversees operations at the North Pole all year long, supervises toy-making procedures, and manages Christmas correspondence, but that’s not what makes him unique. Santa is the only one in the world who can deliver toys to all of the deserving children in the world in one magical night. That is what sets him apart from all other operational executives, product supervisors and communication specialists. It is his unique selling proposition (although his unmistakable red suit, fleecy white beard and hearty Ho Ho Ho help sell it).
Proposition’s agile marketing secret:
What does your company do the best? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? If you are not shouting your USP from the rooftops, you are missing out on opportunities to set your firm apart from others who provide similar services, and that’s a real shame.
Santa rewards good behavior. Even the shopping mall faux Santas ask “have you been naughty or nice” when children climb up onto their laps. They are perpetuating the real Santa Claus’ brand, which includes rewarding admirable attitudes and excellent conduct. Children recognize that their actions affect their chances for that new Xbox they want, so they use their best behavior… at least during the brief period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Be a role model. Practice random acts of kindness.
Rewarder’s agile marketing secret:
Reward your clients and prospects when they do something that you wanted them to do. Positive reinforcement is a strong marketing tactic that works wonders. When clients buy additional services, reward them with a discount. When prospects sign up for your email newsletter, reward them with a free whitepaper. When referral sources send a new lead your way, reward them with a small gift as a token of your appreciation. You may be surprised at how often rewarded behaviors are repeated. And that leads to new (or better) business.
Santa delivers the goods. And I don’t just mean presents. He delivers what you want. We’ve already talked about how he gives gifts with no strings attached. But how successful would that strategy be if he gave away things that people didn’t want to receive?
Deliverer’s agile marketing secret:
Give clients and prospects what they want all year round. Use only the best, most relevant content in your email newsletters. Segment your lists (not just for the naughty and nice, but by other demographics, too) and deliver high quality content that your subscribers want to read. Share engaging articles and images on your social media platforms. It’s better to give than to receive in marketing. You’ll reap your own rewards in the end.
Santa provides the very best customer service. He is conscientious and meticulous. He doesn’t let anything stop him from fulfilling his promises. Snow, sleet, ice, unemployment, moves, divorce, distance – none of these all-too-common obstacles keep Santa from keeping his word. Of course, he has a team helping him as well. Sometimes, he even recruits moms and dads to be on his team.
Provider’s agile marketing secret:
Provide the highest level of customer service so that your client base consists of raving fans and your prospects fall in love with your company. Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled. Create your own agile team of elves and hire surrogate Santas as needed to help you consistently deliver delightful service.
Santa never sells himself. He doesn’t have to. He maintains his conviction that his services and actions speak for themselves. His focus on each of the above marketing strategies has earned him enough word of mouth referrals and repeat business that he can enjoy continuous growth without resorting to sales pitches. Too many marketers focus on hawking their wares – be they services, products or a combination of the two. Santa lets his actions speak for themselves. And his brand and empire only continue to grow!
Conviction’s agile marketing secret:
Are you taking maximum advantage of referrals? If not, you should be! Develop a strategy to connect with your best referral sources and Tier 1 clients (who are your most lucrative and reliable referral sources) on a regular basis. A well-designed word of mouth referral campaign will be the most valuable and rewarding program in your marketing plan.
Create your own marketing magic
Santa understands marketing better than most. He has built a global branding empire by compiling his agile marketing team of eight reindeer and consistently branding, talking, giving, proposing, rewarding, delivering, providing and maintaining his convictions. You can do the same by following his stellar example. Create your own marketing magic this coming year. As the big man Santa Claus himself says:
Now, Brander! Now, Talker! Now, Giver and Proposition!
On, Rewarder! On, Deliverer! On, Provider and Conviction!
To the top of the list! To the best of the brands!
Now market well! Market well! Market well across the lands!”