holiday-themed contentGo to any big-box retailer the day after Halloween, and you’re likely to discover employees tripping all over each other, wiping away any vestiges of Halloween and flooding the sales floor in a tsunami of Christmas cheer.

And thus begins the mad dash that won’t end until January, accompanied every step of the way by a soundtrack of jingle bells and talking reindeer.

So it’s almost impossible not to wonder if you should use Christmas references in your content marketing.

And it’s not just Christmas. The same thing happens with all the other major holidays, too. Heck, we can’t even kick off the month of September anymore without being bombarded with pumpkin-spice everything.holiday-themed content

But just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

On the other hand, just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t make it a bad idea, either. It’s risk vs. benefits, folks — and only you can weigh them out. Here are some things to consider:

Expect some members of your audience to be offended.

And, if they’re not, somebody will tell them they should be.

On the other hand, other customers will be offended if you don’t mention their favorite holiday. Remember how Starbucks got blasted for using plain red cups during 2015’s holiday season? You would’ve thought they decided to fire Santa — or go caffeine-free with no warning. So you have to decide which course is the most likely to offend the fewest customers.

Make sure you know what you’re talking about.

Sometimes good intentions turn into huge faux pas. And then there’s the old cliche about assumptions (you know the one I mean). So, for the love of all that’s holy, please don’t start referencing things you know nothing about.holiday-themed content

Here’s an example (and I promise this is really a thing): When people first move to the South, they often invite their friends, neighbors, and colleagues over for a barbecue. Because Southerns love barbecue, right?

Indeed we do. But we also take our barbecue very seriously — and hamburgers and hotdogs ain’t it. In these here parts, “barbecue” means ribs or pulled pork, slow-smoked on a grill, and slathered with barbecue sauce (unless you’re in the dry ribs camp). Hamburgers and hotdogs are what you serve at a cookout.

We’re a polite bunch down here. We recognize the good intentions and would never, ever say anything. But we do notice. And so will your audience if you make a reference to something cultural and get it wrong.

Don’t force it.

My southern mama always said, “If you have to tell people you’re a lady, you’re not.” In other words, if you have to try too hard to make a connection between your business and Christmas…just don’t.

On the other hand, making a connection between your business and Christmas is a lot easier than you may think. It’s a lot like writing for “boring” industries. You just have to get your head out of the technical details and start thinking about how your product or service affects people’s daily lives.

  • Sell prepared, ready-to-pop-in-the-oven meals? Sure, you can point out that they make great gifts. Not a thing wrong with that. But it might be more effective to think about how hectic our lives become during the lead-up to Christmas and write about hacks for getting through the madness with your sanity intact.
  • Sell a finance app? Talk about how families can keep their Christmas spending under control.
  • Provide event-planning and/or catering services? Write about things companies need to consider when planning their holiday parties. From food allergies to liability for party-goers who drink too much, there’s a lot to think about — and with your experience, you know exactly what those things are.
  • Sell upscale clothing? Write about how the “dress code” for Thanksgiving has deteriorated over the years, and dig up some research (there’s got to be some out there) that says family gatherings go more smoothly when everyone is dressed up.

What you don’t want to do is make such a stretch that people laugh at it.

Don’t ruin great evergreen content.

holiday-themed contentAnd, no, I’m not talking about Christmas trees.

Evergreen content is the meat and potatoes — or turkey and dressing (my Southern is showing again) — of your blog. It’s the meaty stuff that’s always relevant, rather than the stuff built on trending topics or events.

Why is it so important? Because it lives forever, even if it needs to “get a little work done” now and then.

And immortality has its benefits:

  • While a post on the latest celebrity wardrobe malfunction might bring an initial surge of traffic, people will lose interest as soon as the next shiny thing passes by.
  • Because evergreen content generates traffic for a long time, it will also generate leads for a long time.
  • Evergreen content tends to have all of the things Google looks for when calculating SERP results, so it’s great for SEO.

On the other hand, posts that reference the current calendar year become immediately irrelevant on January 1 — even if they’re about something foundational, like why SEO is a thing. So save your holiday references for the posts that have an expiration date, like Google’s current SERP algorithms (which will probably be outdated by the time this post is published). Don’t date what would otherwise be immortal evergreen content.

Don’t overdo it.

You know that feeling you have on November 1, when your kid offers you a piece of candy? (OK, November 5, but that’s not the point.) People can have too much of a good thing. If you use holiday references,  do it sparingly, not in every single blog post.

 

Bottom line: It’s OK — and maybe even a really good idea — to holiday your content. But if you’re going to holiday, holiday responsibly. And if you need a sounding board for your ideas, I’m happy to listen. Just write to me here at the North Pole. I’ll get right back with you … unless I’m off pardoning a turkey. (See what I did there?)