The holiday season is undeniably ripe for fresh marketing efforts, but it’s also a prime time for harried shopping, overfilled schedules, and plenty of stress. As a content marketer, it’s important for you to find your focus and connect with your audience in a useful and meaningful way during the season. Develop your strategy as early as possible, and begin building your content for the shopping season ahead. Try these tips for successful content that connects during the holidays.

Cast the Right Characters

Image via Flickr by snailsareslimy

Give your holiday content a playful air by developing a friendly character to assist you through the season. Coca-Cola brings out its popular polar bears. McDonald’s created the doll named Juliette. Consider giving your content a fun new approach by developing your own holiday character.

Choose carefully, and you can use your new fictional friend to both reinforce your brand and emphasize an important campaign. John Lewis introduced Buster the Boxer both as an endearing marketing tool and a way to link the company’s advertising with its support for wildlife charities. Your character can narrate some of your seasonal content, present the issues that your pieces solve, or simply pop in for illustrated demonstrations where appropriate.

Pick Your Festive Focus

The holiday season encompasses many celebrations, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day, the Winter Solstice, and more. You’ll dilute your content marketing during the holidays if you try to incorporate them all. Instead, find your focus with just one or two key holidays or aspects of the holiday season.

Depending on your brand, this might mean a heavy focus on the religious aspects of Christmas, or it might mean referring only to these events as “holidays” and putting your emphasis on time with family, food preparation, or meaningful gift-giving. Meet with your marketing team early to find your focus and identify the key words and phrases that best connect your branding to this season.

Keep it Niche

Competition is stiff around the holidays. This is no time to go for a broad and generalized approach with your content marketing. Write for a small, niche audience. Create content for harried shoppers, and you’ll easily get lost in the crush of seasonal traffic. Focus instead on frugal shoppers who are looking for personalized gifts for small dogs and you’ll hit a chord. Though you’ll appeal to a smaller audience, you’ll have a better chance of actually connecting with them, which is better than aiming for a massive target and missing entirely.

Build a Gift Guide

A gift guide is a time-tested way to connect with your readers over the holiday season. Everyone is struggling to come up with the perfect item and not drown in the endless array of options in the online marketplace. This is another place where a niche focus will serve you well. Create as many gift guides as your products can reasonably serve, but keep them hyperfocused on a particular type of gift recipient.

There are far too many gift guides for “men,” “women,” or “children” to make a solid impression in these areas. Instead, consider curating a gift guide for the adventurous hiker, the adult Disney lover, or the elementary-aged “cat lady.” The more distinctive your focus, the more attention you’ll draw as you target your customers’ essential if somewhat wacky needs.

Tap in to Nostalgia

The holiday season is all about nostalgia. Battle the stressors of the season by incorporating references to Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch. Add film favorites to your content by drawing on Christmas lessons from Clark Griswold or Ralphie Parker. Pull on those heartstrings, and use retro imagery that will remind your target audience of their younger days eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival.

This is the time when everyone yearns to slow down and look back. Incorporate gentle, nostalgic themes in your content, and you can connect warmly with your readers. Taking a slower and more sentimental approach can help your pieces stand out and boost shareability in a sea that’s typically cluttered with ads during this time.

Ease Holiday Stressors

As exhilarating and exciting as the holiday season can be, there’s no question this is also an immensely stressful time. Your readers are worried about finding time, finding money, and finding the key to staying organized in the midst of it all. It’s easy to overwhelm your customers around the holidays, so be careful of putting too many to-dos on their already overflowing lists.

Focus instead on offering refreshing solutions to holiday hazards. Simplify as much as possible, and frame your suggestions in quick, easy answers. Offering up “100 Ways to Make Memories This Season” could send your readers into a panic wondering where they’ll find time to add 100 new activities to their busy schedules. Instead, provide “3 Can’t-Fail Tricks for an Unforgettable Christmas.” This feels fresher, lighter, and far more manageable. If you can provide a five-minute solution, two-step fix, or other simple strategies to lighten the holiday load, now is the time.

Try a Sweet Sensory Approach

Up the ante with your sensory language around the holidays. Invoke the spicy scent of fresh pine, the tangy aroma of mulled cider, and the delicious splash of cinnamon that pervades the home during winter. Imagine the sounds of snow crunching beneath boots, skates slicing across ice, and sleigh bells tinkling in the distance. The juicy taste of a honey glazed ham or soft bite into a warm gingerbread cookie instantly put you in mind of pleasant holiday moments.

Incorporate these sensory elements into your content as much as possible, so you’re whipping up sweet pieces that invite readers to smell, taste, and hear the holidays approaching. Focus on these rich delights to battle the frenzied feeling trying to creep in.

With the right strategies in place, you can tackle the holidays with a selection of well-focused content that reaches your customers on a warm, emotional level so they’ll think of you when they need fresh solutions for the season.