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12 Marketing Lessons From Holiday Movies
Direct Mail
December 7, 2023

12 Marketing Lessons From Holiday Movies

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Stephanie Donelson

Happy holidays!

‘Tis the season to be fun and festive and we’re joining in on the fun to put our own spin on the classic 12 Days of Christmas song, but we’re sharing 12 marketing lessons we can learn from popular holiday movies.

Lesson 1: Home Alone - don’t leave Kevin at home

You don't have to do Catherine O’Hara’s "Kevin!" scream, we'll protect your vocal chords; but as marketers, we should not be jumping out of our seats screaming about a marketing tactic we left behind when executing a new campaign.

It’s also important that we don’t have our channels running in silos. Like Kevin being left behind at home, we have no idea what kind of chaos could ensue if we don’t coordinate our campaigns across our channels.

Take the time to make sure Kevin makes it onto the plane with the rest of the family. Take the time to check your marketing workflows and automation triggers to ensure each channel is working as it should and that they are working in tandem toward the same goal. We wouldn’t want to forget about email marketing, direct mail, or SMS marketing this holiday season!

Lesson 2: Home Alone 2 - add two turtle doves to your marketing plans

Okay, we didn’t gift you a partridge in a pear tree with the first marketing lesson we can learn from holiday movies, but we are gifting you two turtle doves this time, just like in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

In the movie, Kevin is told that as long as he and the other person have their turtle doves, they’ll be friends forever. The doves are a symbol of friendship and love.

So, what can we as marketers learn from this? Give your customers and prospects a turtle dove! Prove that you value the relationship they have with your brand. That could come in the form of exclusive discounts, content, or access to events.

Your customers may not be as unique as the pigeon lady from Home Alone 2, but they are unique individuals. Treat them as such.

If you want your customers to be friends with your brand forever, give them a turtle dove that shows your relationship is more than transactions and conversions.

Lesson 3: The Holiday - try something new

Our next marketing lesson comes from The Holiday, a movie about family, friendships, and taking chances in life.

You’ll never know what can happen until you try something new.

What’s the worst that can happen? Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have learned something. Like Iris you could find a new marketing tactic or channel that earns a leading role in your marketing strategy. Or like Amanda, you could feel it was a mistake and realize you deserve to stick it out and see what comes of the risk you took, which could lead to a happily ever after.

As marketers, we can learn to take more chances and seize opportunities when they arrive, such as swapping houses or even something as simple as guest blogging, co-producing content with a business partner, or working with a new influencer.

Lesson 4: A Christmas Story - don’t shoot your eye out

As his mother warns, "Ralphie, don’t shoot your eye out!"

We don’t want any marketers shooting their eyes out, both literally and figuratively.

We just advised you to try something new, but it’s also important to know what you want to do with a new marketing tactic, channel, or campaign before you get your hands on it, or it could backfire.

Have a plan in place when you get your hands on your Red Ryder or new tactic, channel, or campaign. Know what your goals are, who’s responsible, and how you’ll measure success.

It’s great to try new things and daydream like Ralphie about what life will look like with that new marketing channel, but just make sure you’re ready and know what to actually do with it when the time comes.

Lesson 5: The Grinch - people can change when you least expect it

Customers evolve and change. There’s no denying it.

And they often change when we least expect it, just like the Grinch. What they react to one day and make viral may barely drive clicks or conversions the next.

Our hearts have to grow as our customer base changes. As marketers, we need to understand our customers, their wants and needs, and create campaigns that are tailored to them. We have to expect their wants and needs will change over time and we have to be prepared to adapt right alongside them.

It is our responsibility to understand them, even the grinchiest out there, and meet them with the right message on the right channel and at the right time.

Then, the marketer thought of something they hadn’t before. Maybe marketing, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Lesson 6: Spirited - consider your ghosts

Like those six geese a-laying, you have to lay a solid foundation in your marketing.

And like the movie Spirited shows, a modern take on A Christmas Carol, that that includes taking into account your team’s past, present, and what you want the future to look like.

You have to know your marketing ghosts. What has your team done in the past that worked or didn’t work, what’s working now, and what do you think will be different in the future for your team, your campaigns, or even your brand?

It’s so easy to think about marketing as just being in the here and now and every few months or so planning ahead for the future. But our pasts are important. They can teach us and guide us, too. We have to know where we started to know where we’re going.

And like Spirited shows, even if we fail occasionally, we can always change and become a force for good - good marketing, that is.

Prefer to listen to this blog post instead? Watch our video version:

Lesson 7: It’s a Wonderful Life - one person has impact

You matter. Your work matters. You can impact campaigns and brands for the better. You and your team can rally and lift each other up, especially in times when marketing campaigns aren’t performing as expected.

“Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

Everyone on your marketing team deserves respect. Every person on your team matters. We need to let everyone bring their creative talents and experience to the table. Because we matter. It’s as simple as that.

Lesson 8: Christmas Vacation - unrealistic expectations

Clark has the ideal Christmas planned and it does not quite go to plan. Between family members crashing for the holidays, family members fighting, or companies not paying out expected bonuses, things don’t always work out as expected. Especially when the expectations weren’t exactly realistic to begin with.

As marketers, we have to set the right expectations for our campaigns and define what success looks like - as well as ask for help when we need it. And, if things don’t go as planned, we need to be able to roll with the punches, make the most of it, learn from it, and try again.

We could also borrow a related lesson from the Christmas classic Die Hard and like Hans Gruber, learn how to turn challenges into opportunities. A blackout? No problem! We can use that to our advantage.

Also, go eat a Twinkie. It has everything a growing marketer needs.

Lesson 9: The Santa Clause - seeing isn’t believing

As Judy the elf explains, “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.” It can be hard as marketers when launching a long-term campaign and not seeing immediate results. But we have to believe in our campaigns.

We have to remember that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Now, we can help others see what we believe in by tracking the right metrics and reporting on results on a regular basis. By proving the results of our work, others will start to believe in our campaigns too.

Lesson 10: Elf - be true to yourself

Buddy the Elf was able to help by being true to himself. Marketers need to be true about the brand. Just because your competition is jumping on a trend or new channel or releasing a new feature, doesn’t mean your brand has to do the same.

Be passionate about your brand. Show enthusiasm for your industry. Be excited about what you love - even if it’s maple syrup, making snow angels, and singing loud for all to hear to better spread holiday cheer.

Customers want to buy from authentic brands. Customers want to buy from brands that reaffirm their identity and how they see themselves, think of the classic Apple versus Android example. How can they do that when your brand isn’t sure that it’s an elf. Or a human raised by elves.

One more little lesson in here. Don’t be afraid to answer your customers reaching out to you with a “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” Be interested in them and they’ll be interested in you.

Lesson 11: A Christmas Story - it’s a major award

The Old Man from A Christmas Story was not afraid of showing the entire neighborhood the major award he won due to his own mind power. And we as marketers shouldn’t be either!

Take the time to toot your own horn or pipe if we’re sticking with the eleven pipers piping from the song we borrowed this idea from.

Celebrate your own wins, your team wins, and company wins. It’s so easy as marketers to finish a campaign and move on to the next! Take the time and celebrate how the campaign performed and discuss what was learned from the experience. We may not all get leg lamps for our efforts, but we do deserve recognition for bringing our mind power to each and every campaign.

Lesson 12: Love Actually - learn something new

Like the twelve drummers drumming, take a page out of the drummer boy from Love, Actually’s page and drum up a plan for learning and growth next year.

We should never stop learning and growing our skills. Take an online course, plan to attend a conference, schedule time in your calendar to attend industry webinars, search for free eBooks, start listening to a new podcast, do whatever you need to do to continue to grow as a marketer.

Our world of marketing is ever-changing and we need to stay on top of the latest trends, tools, and technology to ensure our campaigns are optimized and built to perform at the best of their ability.

Those are our 12 marketing lessons we can learn from holiday movies! And from all of us at Lob, we wish you a happy holiday season!

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