Holiday Marketing for Atheist Brands

Now that our calendars have flipped over to November, we all know what to expect from marketers.  Our inboxes will teem with tinseled evergreens.  Santa will peek out over seemingly every banner and lightbox.  Red and green will dominate Facebook’s purple.  Every marketer who racks up big sales for Holiday will open the floodgates.

Many of my esteemed colleagues have great advice for enhancing Holiday emails and other addressable media.  However, I’d like to address another group: what do you do when your brand doesn’t celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or anything else in December?  After all, not every brand relies on big Holiday sales to make a living, but they still gotta remain relevant in digital channels somehow.

B2B marketers and B2C marketers who don’t have such gift-able products (packaged goods, for example) face a daunting challenge from roughly this week forward: making a dent in the consumer’s awareness.  Retailers will inflate their cadences to dominate digital media.  They’ll put three or even more emails per day into a subscriber’s inbox.


We don’t give presents; we confer genetic advantages for survival 

It hardly makes sense for what I’ll call “atheist brands” to go toe-to-toe with the Holiday onslaught.  They can’t simply put a wreath on plumbing supplies can call it a day.  Instead, they should think about a few alternatives:

  • Keep on keepin’ on.  Specifically in email, marketers can’t afford to disappear.  Maintaining a presence of the inbox is a 12-months-a-year effort.  Accordingly, it may make sense to keep up the usual cadence (making sure not to mail on particularly key dates like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Mondays and Christmas itself.
  • Experiment.  If Holiday doesn’t add an extra bump to your brand’s bottom line, then you may want to take the opportunity to engage in some lower-stakes testing.  Try new subject lines, copy, offers and designs, anything that doesn’t rely on timing.  Ye old favorite day of week or time of day testing will not make as much sense in November or December because of the day-by-day anomalies caused by the crush of Holiday marketing.  Take a moment to find out what works when that Holiday craziness dies down.
  • Join ’em, at least a little.  As a Christmas non-celebrant, I am always humbled by the happiness that the holiday brings to those who enjoy it and the unvarnished sentimentality it engenders.  Most brands could stand to acknowledge the season, even with just a simple message in social or addressable media.  A strictly revenue-driven brand might not register monetary success, but brands that value customer connections will.

And remember, it’s only 132 shopping days until Richard Dawkins’s birthday!

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