2018 B2B Holiday Marketing

B2B marketing can drive an impact this holiday season.

Whether you love it or despise it (#grinch), the holiday shopping season is right around the corner… This is the big game for most marketers. I can already hear you saying to yourself “I’m in B2B, how does this even apply?”.

Most often, B2B marketers generally believe the holiday shopping season is primarily beneficial to B2C companies. While there is some merit to this, B2B marketers can and should play a role in two primary marketing goals every holiday season.

  1. Delight, entertain and reinforce your relationship with existing customers.

  2. Attract new customers through authentic brand building campaigns.

Share of B2B companies who have a formal marketing plan in place in the United States in 2018 - Digital Radar Marketing

As any good marketing campaign strategy goes, knowing your audience intimately is the foundation - everything else is secondary. Right after knowing your audience comes knowing what strategy and tactics are going to make the largest impact for your brand. Translation - having a formal, written marketing plan is key to ensuring a successful campaign launch.

Related Blog Post: How to Find & Know Your Brand’s Audience

While many of us don’t expect to see a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) under the Christmas tree, we can still fondly remember the wonder of the holidays that play so strongly to the inner child in all of us. I believe there are authentic ways to engage your B2B audience this holiday season. This starts with solidifying three main objectives:

  1. What do you want your audience to think when they encounter your campaign?

  2. What do you want your audience to feel when they see your campaign. What emotions, memory flashbacks, etc. are you hoping to elicit?

  3. What do you want your audience to do once they’ve seen it?

Every year, right when the seasons started to change, I would begin circling images in catalogs and keeping an inventory of the cool new toys to tell my parents about, so they knew exactly what was on my wish list. I’d bet most of us wrote them out and gave them to our parents when we were kids - mine typically include a box of my favorite cereal (to ensure I didn’t have to share it with my sister). Fast-forward to my professional career, and I still keep a mental “wish list” of tools, software, conferences etc., that I want.

Play to the inner child in all of us

Imagine curating a “toy catalog” for your engineering audience. Undoubtedly, any audience has nostalgic memories of looking through catalogs, making lists and hoping their gifts arrive on Christmas morning. If “catalogs” are today’s websites, how is your “catalog” standing out and appealing to the inner child in all of us?

I for one, believe the holidays are a great time to let your brand show a softer, more human side. Think about it, if the average B2B sales cycle runs about 4 - 6 months, the holidays could be a great time to accelerate the process through on-brand, on-point messaging that gets personal. According to a recent Statista study, most holiday advertising begins in October; with the majority of decision makers researching two to three sites prior to making a purchase… what’s going to make your site memorable - if it even get’s see at all?

Related: Ask our experts how your site & visibility stacks up against your competition:

United States; B2B E-Commerce World (B2BecNews); Q1 2018; 110 respondents; B2B buyers

Clearly, there’s no better time for B2C marketing than the holidays and it’s time for B2B marketers to be comfortable inserting themselves into the mix. Your potential customers have been ‘circling products in their catalog’ for most of the year and it’s time to capitalize on that.

Professionally, I’d bet we’ve been acting in a very similar way – researching and budgeting for products, tools and services we plan or want to implement in the upcoming year. Or, in my experience, thinking of creative ways to convince the boss, that yes, we do need that expensive cappuccino machine - it’ll boost my productivity, I promise.

For most B2B companies, their purchases are large investments that take careful time and consideration. If a business that’s familiar with your offering, has been hesitant to purchase your product or service during the regular season, the holidays can lead to an increase in converted sales. Many strategic purchases are decided on in the fourth quarter and carried out in the New Year.

Here’s 3 ideas to kick start your holiday marketing planning:

Exit intent- Create an exit intent strategy. Make it playful and cheerful as a way to keep your visitors on your site, or turn them into leads by providing a special offer through a lead capture. (Pro tip - it’s okay to have a little fun a.k.a. humor in your offer.)

Even if your site doesn’t have an e-commerce option - use the offer to provide value in a form your audience would see exciting. Hell, maybe it’s a chance to have a call with your lead innovation guru or product development expert to influence an upcoming product name.

Direct mail - Create, print and direct mail a “toy catalog” of your products and deals with a detachable wishlist. This could be a fun way to engage your audience, showing them you know how to have fun and play to the inner child in all of us. Undoubtedly, it’ll get them talking.

Imagine a Toys R Us catalog… but with your company’s products, shown and displayed with all the holiday nostalgia one could dream of.


Lastly… one simple change has the potential to instill life into your brand…

Ditch the stiff - Uptight videos, cards and traditional safe messaging blends in… it’s not memorable, or at least not in a good way. Ditch the drab, and show images of your CEO having fun in the office; be lighthearted and showcase your company’s culture by humanizing yourself and your brand.

The time to implement is now. With these simple guidelines you can ensure that both your company and your audience will have a very merry holiday, and even happier new year.

Nate Meadows - Chief Branding Officer Digital Radar Marketing

Nate Meadows - Chief Branding Officer Digital Radar Marketing

Nate Meadows is Digital Radar's head of branding and creative. Nate has created innovative solutions for a range clients for over 15 years and continues to be a driving force in activating a client's digital marketing transformation. Follow Nate on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.