As soon as Halloween is over, marketing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve will kick into high gear. An experiential marketing activation can be a great way to stand out among the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

However, your holiday experiential marketing campaign might look a little different than an event you’d plan for another season. The holidays are a special time for some, a stressful time for others. People spend more and give more, but generally have less time and less patience for things that aren’t on their to-do list. Here are several things you should keep in mind when planning a holiday experiential marketing activation.

Take advantage of the many events already happening

Between January and October, you might host your experiential marketing activation as a stand-alone event so that all the attention is focused on you. In November and December, you’d be wise to plan your activation around an existing event.

Plenty of people organize fairs, festivals, bazars, sales and family entertainment around the holidays. There are after-Thanksgiving fun runs, Christmas tree viewings, menorah lightings, German outdoor markets, beer festivals and so much more. People flock to those events looking for a little holiday magic and a memorable experience with their loved ones. Why not take advantage of that energy and excitement?

Even if you can’t find an event that reaches your target population, you can still reach out to people who are shopping more at various venues in your town. Malls and other shopping centers should have larger-than-average numbers of people visiting around the holidays. Plan your activation where people are already going so they don’t have to make another stop to visit you.

Offer great deals

Studies show that one of the top things that draws people to experiential marketing activations is the promise of a discount or special offer. That’s even more true during the holidays, when people are looking for the biggest sales and the best deals. If your booth, table or exhibit promises people they’ll save money on the things they want at the holidays, you’re likely to have lots of engagement.

On the other hand, the number one thing that draws people to experiential marketing events is giveaways. Take your event up a notch and give away something people need at the holidays. What do consumers in your target population want or need around the holidays? Be creative.

Don’t take too much of people’s time – or take a lot with a purpose

The holidays are a busy time for everyone. While you might want to put together an experiential marketing campaign that features lengthy experiences or detailed videos at any other time of year, holiday experiential marketing campaigns should be more focused. Provide a quick, streamlined experience that gets your brand’s name out there but doesn’t take much time to complete. That in itself might make consumers more likely to sing your praises to their friends on social media.

The exception is campaigns that focus on giving families a once-in-a-lifetime holiday experience. There’s a trend toward families being more focused on doing things together at the holidays than accumulating more stuff they don’t need. If you can find a way to tap into that desire by giving consumers an experience they’re willing to make time for, you should have a real winner on your hands.

Another approach is to make your experiential marketing activation a respite for consumers. Find a way to pamper them with spa treatments or other relaxing activities. Create an opportunity to make their shopping experience faster and smoother (such as running shuttles from stores to people’s cars). Save them a trip to the grocery store or bakery by providing holiday cookies or other baked goods, and encourage them to play hooky with your fun products with all the time they’ve saved.

Appeal to people’s senses

All good experiential marketing campaign appeal to people’s senses. There’s no better time to build an association between your brand and a fond sensation than during the holidays.

Think about the sights, smells, tastes, feelings and sounds that people positively associate with the holidays. Close your eyes and things should come to mind immediately… candles burning, fresh pine needles, a relative’s special cookies or candies, cold snow falling on your face, Christmas carols. If you can link your brand to one of these positive senses, you’re doing a great job.

People are also thinking about family more around the holidays. That’s another great way to create a positive association with your brand. Find ways to link the affection and joy people feel for their loved ones with your products and services. Help them create custom holiday ornaments with a picture of a child, pet or parent. Ask them to share a special memory for a wall of gratitude or purchase a gift for a child in need in the name of a deceased loved one.

Appeal to people’s sense of goodwill

Speaking of purchasing gifts for children… Around the holidays, people’s thoughts also turn to charity, goodwill and year-end tax write-offs. Another experiential marketing strategy is to play up your corporate social responsibility efforts.

If there’s a cause or campaign that your company supports, think about ramping up your support during the holidays. Find new and fun ways for people to give back to the causes they (and you) believe in, all while building a relationship with your brand.

Another possibility is to partner with a nonprofit or cause to offer an experiential marketing experience. It’s possible you don’t even have to run the events, which is a bonus if your company is quite busy around Thanksgiving and Christmas. All you have to do is sponsor an experiential marketing campaign run by a charitable organization.

If your holiday season is looking busy, or you just want some new ideas and new energy, Factory 360 would love to help you put together a fantastic experiential marketing campaign around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve or any other special occasion. Contact us today for more information about how we can bring joy to you and your customers this holiday season.

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