‘Tis the season for holiday parties, festive decorations, and—of course—the best shopping deals of the year. Everyone and their mother is making a list and checking it twice, meaning competition is at an all-time high and advertisers are in hyper-drive to keep up. So how can you make sure your brand rises above the rest and secures the sale, all while gaining brand recognition to last past New Years? TMG Insights is here to help you conquer the holiday marketing game.

Step #1: Understand the psychology

Before you begin devising your holiday campaign, start with your customer. Understanding who your customer is and how they make decisions is key any time of year, but it’s especially important during the chaotic and cluttered holiday season.

The first principle to keep in mind is urgency & scarcity. Planting a seed in your customer’s mind of urgency (once-a-year sale!) and scarcity (only five left in stock!) drives your customer to act quickly out of FOMO, or fear of missing out.  Although web analytics have shown that today’s online shoppers research their options prior to purchasing, successful holiday advertisers convince shoppers to forego their usual careful evaluation and add-to-cart before someone else beats them to it. And the stats don’t lie: This year, 93% of advertisers plan to promote special holiday deals and discounts to capitalize on this principle.

Offering a great deal isn’t always enough. The holiday season is a key time to build brand affinity and loyalty. With more people shopping, more people are talking (in person and online) about brands and the products & services behind them. Use word-of-mouth to your advantage by advertising positive reviews, sharing user-generated content, and working with influencers. The best way to build loyalty to your brand is by leveraging the loyalty your customers already have to their friends and go-to influencers. In the overcrowded, competitive holiday market, being able to rely upon brand loyalty to drive sales is a luxury you can’t afford to lose.

Step #2: Implement your strategy

Now that you understand your audience and have developed messaging to target them, it’s time to put it into practice. So, what’s the foremost trend that should be on your radar? It’s mobile. In the U.S., 71% of minutes spent online were via mobile. Optimizing your ads for mobile is key to effectively connecting with your customer. The best mobile advertisements are eye-catching yet not obstructive to the user’s mobile content, targeted, and clickable.

But, you shouldn’t just be advertising for mobile. You should be advertising for social on mobile. The average user spends 5 hours per day on their mobile device, and 51% of that time in social media apps. Building your ads with mobile social apps in mind means not only meeting the above criteria, but encouraging engagement and sharing too. Leveraging your audience to share your content with friends and family is how you can make social work for you without compounding investment.

It’s also important to consider your content type. Are you selling a brand? Video works best. 51.9% of marketers report that video delivers the best ROI and that their customers have a preference for video. Are you retargeting an item on your customer’s shopping list? Use a photo of the item to remind the customer what’s waiting for them. This strategy capitalizes on the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, or the frequency illusion. By showing your customer their wish-listed item on social media and other websites, you’re reinforcing their exposure and therefore increasing the likelihood of purchase.

Step #3: Learn from the pros

Even with these holiday marketing principles and trends at your fingertips, messaging is still king—and some things are best taught through example. Check out some of #TeamTMG’s favorite holiday campaigns and see why they worked.

  1. Virgin Australia

Why it worked: Virgin Australia brilliantly turned a negative (missing Christmas Day while flying over the international dateline) into a positive (bringing Christmas onboard with a surprise Santa and gifts). The beautifully-made accompanying video brought the sentiment Virgin earned with its Christmas Day passengers to a much wider audience.

  1. REI

Why it worked: REI  closed its store on Black Friday and instead, paid its employees to spend time outdoors with family and friends. Its award-winning #OptOutside campaign elevated the brand by aligning it with true holiday spirit. This doubled-down on building brand loyalty and affinity.

  1. Hotel Tonight

Why it worked: Hotel Tonight’s ‘Visit, Don’t Stay’ campaign was hilariously relatable. Instead of spending the night at Great Aunt Bertha’s with her 50 cats, it recommended that you gift yourself with a hotel room free of family holiday insanity. The pop-art inspired ads became instantly recognizable and got people talking about the campaign.


Need help with your company’s marketing approach? TMG is here to help. Connect with us on social or at moakgroup.com

Ellen Huber