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How to avoid the secular holiday debate

How to avoid the secular holiday debate

As October heads toward its conclusion, small business owners are considering their holiday promotional advertising plans. There is a great deal of major holidays throughout November and December, but not all of them are celebrated by everyone. In recent years, there has been a public debate over how businesses should participate in holiday celebrations.

Some religious groups believe that the greeting “Merry Christmas” should always be used over more general well-wishes like “Happy Holidays.” According to Forbes, some companies worry that they risk appearing politically incorrect by choosing one phrase over the other. To avoid potential controversy this holiday season and the risk of offending customers, it may be wise to abstain from the debate as much as possible.

Celebrate winter
There are certain winter themes that people associate with the holidays without any direct connection to religious significance. For example, snow is a universal symbol that isn’t tied to one specific group or its celebrations. Small business owners can use general imagery in their marketing campaigns so they can take part in the season without joining the secular debate.

Any decoration can be printed on promotional giveaways to tie a company’s advertising campaign with the season. Customers may enjoy pens and magnets that are embossed with snowflakes more than they appreciate standard logo-bearing gifts.

General greeting cards
Some owners send greeting cards to loyal clients during the holidays. Many people enjoy receiving personal letters because it shows that businesses are paying attention to more than their bottom lines. Cards are sent with the best of intentions, but if they feature potentially offensive messages, like those for a holiday that recipients don’t participate in, the small gesture could turn some customers away.

Promotional holiday cards with general well wishes are likely to be appreciated without the risk of offending a customer. Simple messages such as “Season’s Greetings” are nice sentiments during a time when many groups are celebrating important dates.

Know your customers
Small businesses have the advantage of getting to know their clients. Personal connections endear customers to local establishments and help owners develop marketing campaigns that are suited directly to their clientele’s preferences. Companies that want to include holiday imagery in their promotional advertising can use the knowledge gleaned from close business relationships to make sure they are marketing their brands appropriately.

For example, if you know that your customers are primarily Christians, including “Merry Christmas” and Santa’s elves on promotional notepads will likely be well-received. By showing clients that you’re paying attention to them, you’re endearing your business to the community, which can lead to greater success down the road.

Advertise for non-denominational holidays
Two of the biggest holidays in November and December have no religious ties. Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve are two celebrations that almost everyone takes part in. Independent establishments can focus the bulk of their seasonal advertising on these two days so the companies are still seasonally involved while appealing to large consumer bases.

Instead of sending out one greeting card, owners can send one for Thanksgiving and another for New Year’s Eve. Customers notice when establishments go the extra mile, so sending multiple mailers can be a strong marketing tactic that fosters loyalty by reinforcing relationships. Spreading advertisments throughout the season and not focusing heavily on one particular period also helps companies stand out during a competitive marketing season.

There are many advertising strategies small business owners can use over the next two months. The holidays are a crucial time for annual success and marketing properly throughout the season helps generate high returns as the year comes to a close.

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