Nothing gets marketers’ creativity flowing quite like an upcoming holiday. Sadly, when executed, many holiday marketing campaigns simply fall flat.

Why is that?

I believe it’s because the audience gets lost in the shuffle. Marketers are so busy trying to find the right images to post on social media, or putting a holiday spin on that long-ago-planned blog post, they forget the most important part: creating content that genuinely helps the audience in some way.

To show you what I mean, I rounded up 9 holiday marketing campaigns that hit the mark. You’ll be excited to know, too, that not all of these are about Thanksgiving or Christmas. Yes! You can make a holiday splash during any holiday.

Don’t forget the most important part of any holiday marketing campaign: the audience!

1. HubSpot: Holiday Stock Photos

If you’ve been on HubSpot’s email list for a few years, you might be nodding your head in agreement right now. If not, you’re in for a treat.

Every year toward the Christmas holiday, HubSpot shares a time-saving treat with their audience. At the time of year when holiday marketing demands are high, but time with family is the priority, this gift of free stock photos is a welcome respite from the hours spent searching for images for that last blog post.

Hubspot Holiday Photos

2. Starbucks: Frappula Frappucino Campaign

Many marketers skip over Halloween in favor of the more profitable Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays – but the marketing smarties at Starbucks saw it as an opportunity. With an added dash of scarcity thrown in for good measure (this drink was only available for 5 days), this was a terrifyingly good marketing campaign.

Frappula Frappuccino

3. Uberflip: A Content Marketing Christmas Carol

In a hilarious adaptation of a Christmas story favorite, this video from the team at Uberflip tells the tale of a cynical content marketer who wished to change his ways. Mr. Schmitty is taken on a trip through the past, present, and future of content marketing, finally discovering the true meaning of it all.

The result? A sincerely fun lesson in smart content marketing practices.

Uberflip Christmas Carol

4. Melanie Duncan: Holiday Blog Blast

One of the savviest marketers out there, Melanie Duncan keeps up her marketing momentum through the holiday season with a perfectly planned series of blog posts and correlating marketing emails.

This year she kicked it off in the early fall with a post about setting yourself up for success for the next year. Then she moved to a post which highlighted the lessons marketers could learn from Starbucks’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. Finally, she zoomed straight to posts about planning Christmas holiday promotions.

What’s really brilliant about this campaign? All of these posts were published before Halloween. Which means that her audience of entrepreneurs were primed to use her content to plan their own holiday marketing. Talk about being one step ahead!

With holiday marketing campaigns, publishing earlier can sometimes mean better results.

Melanie Duncan Holiday Blast

5. Marketo: 4 Spooky Errors that KILL Email Campaigns

A scary email from Marketo landed in my inbox the day before Halloween – just in time for me to start thinking about holiday email marketing plans. In it, I was invited to picture the nightmare of toiling away on an email campaign, only to realize that my copy edits didn’t save before I hit “send.” To help me avoid this fate, Marketo welcomed me to download their Top Email Marketing Blunders e-book.

Which I promptly did.

No one wants that particular nightmare to come to life!

Marketo Spooky Emails

6. Zendesk: Holiday Videos Galore

Zendesk is known for its customer service products – and the company’s quirky, fun personality shines through in everything it does. It’s no surprise that the team at Zendesk would think to create hilarious holiday-themed videos to get the attention of its audience.

It was hard to pick just one video to share with you. They’re all so clever! I encourage you to take a look at their collection on YouTube for other gems that showcase the company’s unique take on building customer relationships. Meanwhile, here are two of my holiday favorites.

This Christmas goodie from 2011 is worth taking a break from your work for a few minutes to watch.

ZenDesk Holiday Videos Galore

But I can’t resist sharing this Halloween zombie movie video with you, too.

Zombie Video

7. Canon: 4th of July Printables

Canon, makers of imaging products like printers and cameras, are no slouches when it comes to holiday marketing campaigns. I found campaigns for pretty much every North American holiday you can think of – from St. Patrick’s Day to Independence Day to Christmas.

I loved this 4th of July campaign because there are so many different ways to connect with Canon throughout. They created a really high-quality video which talks about hosting the perfect patriotic party. On the MyCraftChannel landing page for the video, it offers a free exclusive printable related to the holiday and the video. And finally, they list the exact products they used in the video to get the results.

Canon is a great example of a company that knows its audience, and gives that audience content that helps them in their day-to-day lives.

Cannon 4th of July

8. Mashable: Easter Egg Vine Challenge

Here’s an oldie but a goodie. In 2014, Mashable held a Vine challenge, asking people to share Vine videos of their Easter egg creations using the hashtag #CraftyEggs.

Though the global media and entertainment company didn’t follow up on the challenge with the post revealing the most creative entries, as it promised in its initial post detailing the challenge, this campaign is still a winner in my book. Instead of asking its Twitter followers to retweet something or post a simple text response, the company asked people to create Vine videos.

Why is this a smart move? Getting your audience to participate interactively like this is so much more engaging. Participants will remember this interaction long after the event.

Mashable Easter Egg Vine

9. Bank of America: Holiday-centric on Social Media

Bank of America has some of the friendliest holiday-themed marketing campaigns around, if you ask me. Take a look at their Facebook page around any holiday and you’ll find related posts with engaging images and genuinely helpful content.

Last year during the Thanksgiving season, they shared posts about appreciating time with family, posts about saving money at the grocery store, and posts with recipes and cooking tips. Of course, they shared posts with related company promotions as well – but these posts felt so organic among the other content they shared on their Facebook page.

Bank of America Holiday-centric Social Media

The Key to Holiday Marketing Success

No matter how you plan your marketing campaign – if you’re going heavy on the emails, ramping up your interactive content, or doubling-down on your holiday-themed blog posts – being genuinely helpful to your audience is the key to success.

Don’t forget who you’re creating content for!

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