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:
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!