With the busiest retail season of the year right around the corner, and everyone gearing up for Black Friday, it’s easy for companies to forget about humble little Thanksgiving. Last year, some brands went so far as to erase Thanksgiving altogether in favor of starting “Black Friday” a day early—and were roundly castigated for it on social media, a backlash that had serious financial consequences for companies.
As marketing departments all over the country start planning Christmas promos and designing holiday marketing collateral, you can put your brand ahead of the others by taking the time to genuinely honor Thanksgiving. Here’s how.
Give Them Thanks
There’s a reason the words “thank you” are among the first niceties we, as human beings, teach our children. Showing appreciation strengthens bonds and increases positive feelings. Gratitude is social glue.
When you use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to clients, prospects, users, followers, partners, and employees, you leverage this basic social truth to build stronger relationships, and increase loyalty to your brand.
The simplest way to do this is to compose a nice thank-you email to each of your key audiences (in a Thanksgiving-themed design, if you like). When choosing this option, be specific and genuine. Tell your clients what their loyalty means to you. Tell employees how grateful you are for their contributions. While a simple “thanks” is powerful, specific gratitude is even more so.
If you want to do more, try one of these ideas, or get creative with your own.
- Send hand-written thank-you notes. About a year ago, I began a practice of writing thank you letters on old-fashioned stationery once a week. Initially, I sent them to family and friends, then I started writing them for people who have influenced me professionally. I was astounded at what happened next. I started getting coffee invitations from some of the busiest people in town. I got phone calls out of the blue from people who hadn’t responded to my emails in years. I got new work contracts via people who were so moved by my gratitude that they began recommending me to their networks. I would never suggest that you write notes purely for the business value, but it is true that hand-written notes are a rarity that stands out.
- Have a Thanksgiving party for employees or clients. Every Christmas brings so many parties that no one has time for all of them. Why not throw a party before everyone’s schedule gets crazy, and use it as an opportunity to express your gratitude?
- Give something away for free. Maybe it’s a new, in-depth e-book. Maybe it’s a webinar or some branded swag. Again, everyone’s doing this at Christmas. Do it at Thanksgiving along with sincerely expressed gratitude, and you’ll get noticed.
- Thank them publicly on a blog or newsletter. You can highlight specific customers, influencers who have promoted your brand, partners, or just randomly choose a few good clients to talk about. Talk them up and express your gratitude in this public way, and you’ll get their attention and the attention of your readers.
- Send a gift. If you’ve already budgeted for Christmas gifts, why not spend some of it at Thanksgiving, and then send a card at Christmas. This way, your gift basket or key chain or bottle of wine won’t get lost with all the others.
In all cases, it’s important that your gratitude be expressed in a genuine fashion. If you’re just saying “thanks” to get into their inbox and sell them more stuff, they will see through it. Instead, use this as an opportunity to show that you really do care, and why.
Give Them Reasons to be Thankful
Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions people can experience. When we are grateful, our brains release doses of a feel-good chemical called dopamine.
Why not celebrate Thanksgiving by giving your buyers, partners, and employees that shot of dopamine? Write some great content and give it away, offer free product, go above and beyond with existing clients. Do something that makes them want to thank you, and you’ll not only make them feel good, you’ll also invoke a powerful instinct called the law of reciprocity.
The law of reciprocity says that when someone does something for you, you automatically feel a strong urge to return the favor. In business terms, this means that people who feel grateful to you will want to help you out—whether that’s by buying from you, recommending you to a friend, or sharing your good deeds on social media.
Show Off Your Brand’s Character
The most compelling brands give thanks and reasons to be thankful all year long. Why not use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to highlight this characteristic?
Use your company blog, newsletter, video blog, social media, and other platforms to highlight all the things you’re grateful for. You can highlight clients, awards, partnerships, sales numbers, acquisitions, anniversaries—anything you have to be thankful for this year. By taking this opportunity to express thanks for these things, you call them to mind again for your readers, and remind them that you are the sort of company that expresses gratitude.
You can also use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to re-issue some of your best content from the year, repackaging it as a “Thanksgiving gift” to your readers. Putting all your best free content in one place reminds followers that you are the sort of company that gives gifts all year long.
Besides the business benefits, taking the time to authentically honor the spirit of Thanksgiving will energize you for the coming new year by reminding you of the delights of the past year. So go ahead, take a break, get creative, and let the gratitude flow. You won’t be sorry.
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