What my Local 7-11 taught me about Holiday Marketing

Last night–Halloween–was a big night on my block.  The local block association closes of West 90th Street from Central Park West (the nice end) to Columbus Avenue (where we live).  The kids have a ball collecting bite-sized Milky Ways from one end to the other.  And the 7-11 on the corner of 89th & Columbus taught me a lesson just in time for the crazy holiday marketing period that has already begun.

Here’s what they did:


What does a free coffee in October have to do with mistletoe, menorahs and suchlike?

OK, to review, here’s what Halloween night looked like on the Upper West Side of Manhattan:

cold_halloweenRemarkably attractive children chosen completely at random

See the costumes?  Rather, see the jackets covering up the costumes?  The temperature fell to 48º by trick-or-treat time.

Meanwhile, the 7-11 had a barker outside offering free coffee as well as more kid-specific treats such as hot dogs and Slurpees.  While I like coffee generally and I like 7-11’s coffee in particular, I rarely think of them for coffee.  However, they made themselves useful at a key time.  They stood out from all the clamor to make a point.  We’re here.  We have good coffee.  C’mon in.

Now that Christmas dominates the marketing calendar for the rest of the year, we can expect to see a typical online onslaught of Michael Bay proportions.  Our humble 7-11 may have the key for brands looking to standing out from the crowd: be useful.

What digital tactics could a brand use to make itself useful?  Some quick ideas:

  • Offer utilities for holiday shopping, such as a branded app collecting wishlists for the whole family
  • Content to help clueless people pick out the right presents ranging from a simple “best gifts for dad” article to an interactive online configurator
  • If all else fails, try anything funny; humor always helps defuse tense situations like too much time with family

Do you have some ideas for making your brand helpful for the holiday season?  Please share!


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