Make Your Experience ‘Holiday’ Worthy


 It’s no secret that I am an advocate for building experiences where brands and people participate in something meaningful together. Sometimes that participation turns into a ‘holiday’ of sorts. Let’s explore this phenomenon.

Groundhog Day. How many of us ever heard of Punxsutawney, PA before it became ‘holiday’ worthy through some keen storytelling by the tourism folks, the proper furry mascot (cleverly named Punxsutawney Phil) and an emotional connection (wanting winter to end)?

The adult beverage industry leverages ‘holidays’ too. Thanks to tequila producers, Cinco de Mayo gained popularity in the U.S. boosting premium brands and margarita sales to more than double any other day of the year[1].

Beer and whisky makers supply the Irish with plenty to help honor their beloved St. Patrick’s Day celebrations—to the tune of $200M, but it’s the U.S. shenanigans that have blown this ‘holiday’ into a $4B party[2].

While cupid touches the hearts of many, the Valentine’s ‘holiday’ is like a defibrillator for the diamond, gold, greeting card, chocolate and flower industries—they share around $20B[3].

But here’s the thing—the occasion itself does nothing for a brand—the brand needs to create an experience that people want to participate in, not just an occasion on which to ride coattails. So, how do brands create ‘holiday’-like experiences?

Powerful Purpose – People want to participate in experiences that matter, so be sure your brand and organization have a powerful purpose that inspires people to want to engage with you.

Emotional Connection – gather quality insights in order to get to know your consumers, their personas, energy, personal habits and reasons they make their choices. This insight makes all the difference when it comes to efficiencies of planning and executing your campaigns. Use emotion to inspire and motivate behavior.

Be Authentic – people have become much more perceptive and sensitive to what’s underlying. Brands must walk their talk if they want any shot at building relationships with people.

Organized Ideas – go beyond thinking up a ‘big idea’ and instead, craft an Organizing Idea where all your efforts are consistent, connected, working in a congruent direction and ending in a comma, rather than a period.

An excellent example I can point to is how American Express created Small Business Saturday.  The goal here was to cement the day after ‘Black Friday’ as an official shopping day during the holiday season. It took considerable amounts of collaboration with small businesses, vendors, consumers and public officials (to include tweeting from President Barack Obama) to execute this grand idea. The co-creation of content, special offers and marketing tools for small businesses all provided an interesting and valuable application for telling stories and creating experiences around an occasion.

Amex’s authentic actions showed pride in serving the needs of small businesses, which linked back to the brand’s purpose. By connecting all the pieces and points of sale and also connecting the people to the purpose, a holistic experience with great story telling was born.

So, rather than thinking of a day as a moment in time, be sure what you are doing is infused with emotion and connects to the people you want to attract.

These pointers are explored more deeply in Storyscaping—Stop Creating Ads, Start Creating Worlds.



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