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How to Be a Nicer Brand This Holiday Season

Here comes the most wonderful time of the year! And we get to start on my personal favorite holiday; Thanksgiving (because it’s all about the side dishes).

Ideally, we’re thankful all year long, but as the shopping frenzy gets ready to kick into gear, let’s take a look at how some of the nation’s major brands go the extra mile to make stakeholders feel appreciated, say thanks, and be a nicer brand this holiday season.

Thank You - Thanksgiving - Marketing

1. Don’t rush your customers.

Example: Nordstrom decks the halls after Thanksgiving.

While I’ve seen some stores decorate for Christmas as early as October, even late September, Nordstrom doesn’t do so until the day after Thanksgiving. Every year, they post this sign on their windows. Because they “like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.” It’s a way of reassuring customers that they don’t need to rush into the holiday shopping.

Nordstrom - Thanksgiving Thanks

Click the picture for a larger view.

2. Be a nice employer.

Example: Costco stays closed on Thanksgiving.

Like Nordstrom, some stores choose people over profit. Costco will not open on Thanksgiving Day to allow their employees time off. While they might sacrifice in revenue, they gain enormously with goodwill from employees, and customers too. This is part of the reason Costco is the happiest company on earth and frequently listed as a great place to work.

The pressure to capture that early audience continues to escalate, quite possibly, at the cost of profitably because of such intense cost cutting.

We all know what happens when you have satisfied and fulfilled employees: Turnover is low and happy employees make your customers happy. This more than makes up for the slim profits you might make opening on Thanksgiving Day.

3. Make it easy to give.

Example: Heart of Neiman Marcus makes it easy to combine gift giving with philanthropy. Neiman Marcus caters to a higher income customer base. Given the choice to buy gifts and luxury items that also give back at the same time, wouldn’t you choose to do so? Their Heart of Neiman Marcus is a curated collection of 37 items priced from $32 to $1,800, 10 percent of which will be given to a local cause directed at making the arts more accessible to youth.

4. Give the gift of a good story.

Example: Salomon inspires with touching stories.  

I’m a big fan of Salomon. I’ve been running on their shoes for at least 10 years. Salomon’s Trail Running TV doesn’t sell shoes. It inspires you to get out and run. Whether you are already are a runner or not, I challenge you to watch this and tell me it doesn’t tug at you emotionally, and make you want to pick up the sport.

Find a way to showcase your brand advocates and stars. If this series changes a few lives and gets only a few people to get into running, or to run more, then they have given an amazing gift.

5. Create campaigns that highlight your customers

Example: American Express promotes its own customers with Small Business Saturday

Of course, American Express succeeds if their customers succeed and grow. Small Business Saturday is a great way to thank their customer base by using their resources (resources their individual customers don’t have.) to encourage shoppers to patronize small business.

A website provides tons of resources to small business owners to promote their own business and to organize small shopping districts to encourage activity. Consumers are given a $10 credit when they shop at a participating shop and pay with American Express.

Although the program hasn’t always been executed flawlessly, the idea behind it is a good one for brands to take apply to their own business models.

What other ways can you thank your customers?

For more marketing advice from Lisa Gerber, click here. 

Image: wwworks (Creative Commons)

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