Time for Holiday Marketing

A guest post from colleague Ray Braun, a graphic designer based in the Emerald City.

By Ray Braun
Copyright © Ray Braun. Used with permission.

Autumn is here and you know what that means: the winter holidays aren’t far away. For many businesses, it means end-of-year sales activity. For nonprofits, it means holiday appeal letters and special event announcements.

RayBraunDesignMy father was a photographer who ran three photo studios in southern Idaho and Oregon. He had his own business for over 65 years! He told me that half of his business occurred in the last three months of the year. I suspect that may be true for other businesses and nonprofits, as well.

Now is the perfect time to begin planning and executing your fall/winter holiday promotions. You don’t want your messages to get lost in the avalanche of other communications and distractions at the end of the year.

It takes time to convert your ideas into a finished marketing piece. For example, I recommend four to six weeks to create a printed piece from concept to postal mailbox.

Key Questions

1. What are your plans for a brochure, ad, mailing, calendar or signage that needs to be done?
2. Do you need to announce any upcoming events?
3. How soon do ads or announcements need to happen?
4. Have you written out specific deadlines and due dates?

The above questions are a great start.

To get a free marketing/project calendar for planning purposes, send an email to Ray Braun Design or call us at 206-789-2723.

Ray Braun Design is an award-winning graphic design firm located in Seattle, Washington.


Sticking With a Good Tagline

Teenagers know good advertising when they hear it. I was reminded of this fact as I sat on my couch Monday night with the television on.

My youngest daughter is quieter than her older sister who has gone off to college. She is not very talkative (sort of like her father). Sitting beside me last night, she broke the silence by saying in a matter-of-fact way: “That’s a good slogan.”

There was a commercial break on TV. Something resonated with her, even while her attention was focused elsewhere.

“What?” I asked. “Do you mean the ’15 minutes could you save you 15% or more on car insurance'”?

“Yeah,” she replied.


The “15 minutes” line has been GEICO’S tagline for, well, forever. The gecko is funny. The hump-day camel is funny. The man made of money riding the motorcycle is funny. But it’s the tagline (which is also an offer) that’s been enduring. It’s a good one.

We had a short chat on marketing. I mentioned how too many companies change their slogans, ads and marketing too often.

“Imagine if you changed your name every six months,” I said. “That would be confusing.”

“Yeah, it would,” she said.

Then she turned back to her iPod, and I resumed watching the World Series.

3 Gold Nuggets to Uncover From Any Creative Brief

Dave Moore, creative director of Williams Helde Marketing Communications, penned a smart article on creative briefs in the November/December issue of Marketing, a Seattle-area trade newspaper.

Moore begins by mentioning the “staggering number of creative-brief formats” in his career. I can relate to that statement. Clients and ad agencies have innumerable briefs, tools and methods for identifying marketing, brand and communications issues. There are all sorts of questions, prompts and formats used to solicit the input required to address them.

As Moore points out, the answers are far more important than the questions.  Then he reveals three questions that uncover the answers that matter most:

  1. What is the single most important thing we need to say?
  2. What is the key or main message?
  3. You (audience) should (action) because (reason).

Continue reading “3 Gold Nuggets to Uncover From Any Creative Brief”

The Handwritten Thank-You Card

Two things that help ensure  a receptive audience:  saying thank you and employing personalization. For example, the  handwritten card I received in April from my alma mater, San Diego State University:

Dear Mr. Neil Sagebiel,

Thank you so much for your donation to the College of Arts and Letters. Your support helps us out tremendously. It was a pleasure talking to you and go Aztecs!

Sincerely, Alexandra (Class of 2013)

I don’t know many people who reject thank you’s, or, for that matter, appreciation of any kind. As long they’re sincere and professional–and tied to action or sent at logical intervals–you can’t overdo thank you’s.

They are an important staple of every fundraising and marketing communications program.

Related: SDSU Student Caller Gets The Gift

Seth Says: A Show Is Not a Story

My friend Aly Colón, a journalist turned global communications manager, sent me an item from Seth Godin’s blog on the excessive showmanship of Super Bowl ads.

“The lesson of these ads is simple,” Seth wrote. “Putting on a show is expensive, time-consuming and quite fun. And it rarely works.”

Here’s the marketing nugget from Seth:

“Marketing is telling a story that sticks, that spreads and that changes the way people act. The story you tell is far more important than the way you tell it. Don’t worry so much about being cool, and worry a lot more about resonating your story with my worldview. If you don’t have a story, then a great show isn’t going to help much.”

I’ll add this: You can’t tell much of a story in 30 seconds — even during the Super Bowl. A 30-second spot can only reinforce the story you’re telling across all media and channels.


2009 Super Bowl Ads Were Super Duds

The Dark Side of So-Called Customer Relationships

Jonathan Kranz is the principal of Kranz Communications and author of Writing Copy for Dummies (recommended by yours truly, whether you’re a novice or pro). Last week Jonathan wrote an excellent piece entitled “Teaching Our Customers to Hate Us” at MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

A few excerpts:

“As a pretext for sending me overwhelming amounts of unsolicited email, marketers tell me (in the fine print) that I’m receiving this cascade of irrelevant and irritating material because we have some kind of ‘relationship,’” Jonathan wrote.

“Often, I cannot recall what that ‘relationship’ is …”

Yes, “relationship” has been a business and marketing buzzword since the late 20th century. As a marketing type, I bought into it long ago. But Jonathan’s post was like a splash of cold water. This “relationship” talk is often a big marketing lie.

“Real relationships take time,” Jonathan concluded. “Just because someone thanks you for holding the door open doesn’t mean you’re invited to pack your toothbrush and spend the night. As marketers, we need to be prudent.”

2009 Super Bowl Ads Were Super Duds

While the Super Bowl game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals was super, the Super Bowl ads were not.

I admit it. I’ve been in the advertising/marketing game a while. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky (I’m definitely not in the coveted 18-34 demographic), but, overall, I found last night’s lineup of Super Bowl ads to be uninspired. They didn’t strike me as clever, smart, or funny.

Sometimes I wonder how they get made. How do the concepts move beyond the conference rooms where they’re pitched?

I read in USA Today that the average Super Bowl ad costs $2 million to produce and $3 million for the ad buy. So corporations pony up $5 million to run those 30-second spots. Amazing.

If they’re phenomenal (“Herding Cats” comes to mind), then they’re probably worth the hefty investment. But, for many, there are probably much smarter ways to use $5 million to build brand awareness and market products and services.