By Bob Salvas
A lot of marketing people over the years have talked about the marketing success that is Santa Claus. I suppose it is because
it can be a fun way to remind us to practice good marketing principles. With that in mind, here are five lessons from the man
in the red suit as we approach the new year:
1. DIFFERENTIATE– The best path to success is to differentiate your business. This helps you stand out in whatever your
industry is. In Santa’s case, other people may deliver Christmas presents but how many do it in a bright red suit in a sleigh
pulled by flying reindeer? Yes, only one….
2. TARGET MARKET– Alongside differentiation is identifying your one specific audience and then speaking to them with
greater depth than you could do to a mass audience. Interestingly, if you are really good at one you do, that one specific
audience actually expands your reach by telling others. Santa’s target market and message is to children. But the appeal
goes way beyond that, to the ‘child’ in each of us.
3. CUSTOMER KNOWLEDGE– Long term business success is largely built on repeat business and adapting to change.
You cannot sell a customer something if you don’t know what they want. So, it becomes important to ASK THEM! Even
Santa, who supposedly knows when you are sleeping and when you are awake, makes doubly sure what his customers
want by ASKING children specifically what they want for Christmas in malls and department stores weeks prior to the
4. BRAND IDENTITY– The way you conduct business, why you are in business, your business name and any visual
component all tell the story of who you are and what you do. Santa Claus is pretty well-branded. The legend comes
from Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children. ‘Claus’ is actually a Germanic shortened form of the word ‘Nicholas’.
As to the visual image, it is interesting to note that the modern image of Santa Claus was developed in the 1930’s by
Coca Cola. At the time, Coke was only seen as a warm-weather drink and the company wanted to grow by promoting
year-round consumption. So, another business lesson here is co-branding your company with another brand which
apparently worked quite well for Coca Cola!
5. GIVING– A successful business also makes a habit of giving. They give good service and good value of course, but
the most successful companies give more to their clients, prospects and the community than they have to. Giving helps
to build trust and trust is THE key to building and maintaining business relationships. The biggest business networking
organization in the world is BNI (Business Network International) and their core philosophy is in the line they use:
GIVERS GAIN. Giving first promotes gaining later. Sowing comes before reaping. And Santa? Well the name ‘Santa’ is
practically synonymous with GIVING.
In many ways, The Marketing Secrets of S. Claus embody some of the best business building advice out there. Perhaps
some of these ideas can help your business grow in the coming year. Oh, and if you are reading this during the holiday
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” -S. Claus