Have you made plans for the holidays yet? We’re not talking about plane reservations to visit Mom and Dad. We ‘re talking about making plans to connect with your customers and former participants before the end of the year.
Marketing can be very similar to gift-giving. You want to offer something that’s desired, needed and valued. You also want to present it in a way that’s appreciated.
To accomplish this, you’ll have to do lots of thinking about them, just as you do when thinking about your personal gift recipients.
At the same time, you have year-end goals to meet. You have budget constraints. Your customer communications need to be successful, which means they need to produce results. So you’ll also have to do some thinking about you.
First, let’s talk about your participants.
(because starting there is the very core of being customer-centric.)
Imagine you’re a busy parent planning your family’s holiday season. You’re probably purchasing airline tickets, or readying your house for company. You’re deciding on a budget, menus and family entertainment. You’re planning for volunteer projects and year-end donations. Your kids have recitals and performances that require transport, costuming and ticket sales. You have teacher gifts and class parties, as well as social events for grown-ups and perhaps one “white elephant” gift exchange. Maybe you’re ordering, addressing and mailing greeting cards. All the while, you’re accumulating meaningful gifts for your family.
With this detailed picture of your participants in mind, revisit your plans for holiday promotions. Where does your organization fit into families’ lives right now? We suggest you pop in like a server in a good restaurant—hardly noticeable, except that you show up at just the right time to meet their needs. Here are some ideas for engaging parents:
1. Let them know you’re thinking about them by using customer-centric language.
In all of your communications with customers, it’s important to meet them where they are—show that you’re thinking about them, instead of asking them to think about you. Check out the difference in the following examples of holiday marketing communications.
Smells of sunscreen and chlorine have long given way to apple cider and baked goods. School routines are in full swing, and you pulled together Halloween costumes just in time. As you start thinking about holiday to-dos, here’s one item you can easily check off your list: Early bird registration for the winter session at [your organization name].
Can you believe we’re halfway through the autumn season? The holidays will be here before you know it! Our early bird discount is here, and you don’t want to miss our awesome winter program! We’ve made registration easy!
See the difference? You want to talk about them, not you. You don’t have to be poetic—just thoughtful. Here’s an easy tip for making sure your tone is customer-centric: Identify all first-person references in your communications (I, we, us, our), and rewrite them using second-person (you).
2. Consider the power of story.
Your participants may be disconnected from their positive experiences with your organization right now, so gently stir up happy memories with a personalized narrative:
How much effort do you make this time of year to delight your children? It can be a daunting task! And though it’s thrilling to see their eyes light up with holiday glee, how long does it usually linger? This year consider giving your kids lasting gifts—like independence, self-confidence and a like-minded tribe discovered at [your organization name]. These gifts don’t come cheap, but they can come at a discount. Take advantage now of early bird registration.
OR THIS. (an example of a parent testimonial)
Suzy couldn’t stop talking about camp when she got home last summer. She’d reconnected with her childhood sense of wonder, and she carried a newfound self-confidence. As a parent, I was so grateful to see her take those discoveries into her first year of middle school. Even now, when the subject of camp comes up, her face brightens. Though I want to give her the thrill of an expensive gift, I’m choosing an “experience gift” instead. I’ve seen the difference, and it means so much more in the long run. – Suzy’s mom
3. Offer parents a tangible gift to put under the tree.
Even among parents choosing to invest in experience gifts, many still want something to put under the tree. What can you offer them? A limited-edition piece of winter clothing? An iPhone case? Tickets to a performance at a partner organization? A cool sports bag? Find creative ways to give your “experience gift” a tangible element and make presentation easier for Mom and Dad.
Now for thinking about YOU …
Your priorities should be the same during holiday promotions as for any other marketing campaign. Set your budget. Determine your objectives. Measure your outcomes. Evaluate your results. These are the non-negotiables.
It won’t matter how much your participants love your offer, your story, or your gear-oriented gift idea, you can’t run your organization if you don’t capture registrations and meet your financial goals — and find a way to still have time for your own life (most likely described in the scenario we started with above.)
May we suggest giving yourself the gift of:
- Streamlined program management and freedom from manual processes
- Free marketing guidance
- An expanded program reach on the largest activity site in the world (Active.com)
- Peace of mind about your customer’s personal and financial information for 2018
…and so much more!