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holiday content

6 Brands That Win at Fantastic Holiday Content

With the holiday season upon us, brands in every industry are putting together their holiday editorial calendar. It’s important to adjust your blog content, your email marketing, and even your social media presence to target the holidays your audience is celebrating.

We recently shared five tips to help you create “irresistibly tasty” content for your readers this holiday, but today we have some new inspiration for you. We are sharing six brands that consistently do a great job with their holiday content year after year.

brands that win at holiday content

6 Brands That Win at Fantastic Holiday Content

These brands may create festive content for their blogs and social media or they might give their product a fun twist around the holidays to get you feeling jolly.

Whether you’re in need of some inspiration for your own brand’s holiday editorial calendar or you just want to get in the holiday spirit, look to these brands for some help!

starbucks-red-cup-2016

Starbucks: The Yearly Tradition

It wouldn’t be possible to have a round-up of brands that do the holidays right without mentioning Starbucks, would it? Although Starbucks isn’t exactly known for festive blog posts around the holidays, they are known for those classic red cups. And you know what? It works for them!

Each and every year, the coffee chain releases a brand new red cup design (or even multiple red cup designs, like they did this year). Their customers get excited to see what they have come up with, looking forward not just to the seasonal lattes, but the seasonal red cups as well.

Not only do people get to enjoy their delicious drink in a decorative cup, but Starbucks also encourages customers to share photos of the popular red cups on social media. For the past few years, Starbucks has run an Instagram contest where they ask people to share photos of their red cups. Customers are encouraged to snap a photo of their red cup with the hashtag #RedCupContest for a chance to win prizes.

This motivates customers to head to Starbucks and share photos, which likely prompts others to do the same when they see the images in their Instagram feed. It’s effective marketing for Starbucks and gets people in the holiday spirit!

The Takeaway: Create something your audience can look forward to every single year. Then, get people involved! Create a challenge of your own and encourage your audience to participate. You can even take it up a notch by giving back through giveaways people are sure to love. If you choose to do a photo challenge like Starbucks, it provides amazing user-generated content you can share on your own profile, too.

target-holiday-2015

Target: Masters of Storytelling

The Christmas season is a pretty big deal for Target. Because many parents are shopping for presents to put underneath the tree and children are adding to their Christmas lists, Target is a popular destination for gift shopping. So, it should come as no surprise that the nationwide retailer puts a lot of effort into their Christmas ads each and every year.

In 2015, Target used their television commercials to tell a story of children and the store mascot, Bullseye the dog, as they set out to light up a giant Christmas tree. Throughout the commercials, you would see famous characters children are familiar with, such as the Minions. People would pay attention to the commercials so they could see what would happen in the end.

While it may seem the commercials were designed with only children in mind, Target slipped in details parents would want to know, too! They would add pitches about some of their holiday offers, such as free shipping for online purchases until Christmas.

Their goal is always to take the viewer on a journey, so it’s no surprise they plan to do the same thing for 2016. This year’s advertisements are said to be a Broadway-style marketing campaign that will feature some celebrity guests.

Target doesn’t just put a lot of effort into their advertisements every year. They also have the Kids’ Wish List App, which children a way to save all of the items on their Christmas wish list. And it gives parents a list of exactly what to buy! You’ll likely see pitches for this app in the commercials as well.

The Takeaway: Create a holiday marketing campaign that tells a story. Draw your audience in with a captivating story that leaves them wanting to know more.

jcrew-holiday-2015

J.Crew: Embracing Social Advertisements

Fashion retailer, J.Crew, is pretty savvy when it comes to their social media marketing, especially around the holidays. Last year, the company ran a few ads on both Instagram and Facebook. Now, it’s no secret that social media ads can be a great way to increase sales for your product and build brand awareness. So, what’s the big deal?

J.Crew knew what they were doing with the ads they created. They took advantage of the “Shop Now” button that can be placed on ads, which would encourage people to click over to the website and immediately start shopping straight from the ad.

The Takeaway: If you’re looking to boost sales this holiday season, don’t be afraid to experiment with social media advertisements. They can be a great way to reach your audience. Figure out which platform your audience is most active on and start building an ad. Promote your product and send people over to your website to encourage them to make a purchase.

tone-it-up-thanksgiving

Tone It Up: Cooking Up a Great Holiday

The mission of the Tone It Up girls is to help you get fit and healthy, no matter what time of the year it is. However, it’s not surprising that can be difficult this time of year. We often indulge in large meals and lots of sweets during Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Karena and Katrina of Tone It Up show that it doesn’t have to be that way!

Because the ladies also share healthy recipes on their website, they keep holiday dinners in mind when cooking up new recipes in the kitchen. They provide readers with recipes for healthy side dishes and pumpkin treats (which are perfect this time of year). The ladies even share their tips for hosting a fabulous dinner event in your own home!

The Takeaway: Keep the holidays in mind when planning your blog’s editorial calendar. Find ways you can work the desired holiday into your content. If you’re a food blogger, share seasonal recipes. If you’re a lifestyle blogger, share decor tips. If you’re a business blogger, you can even offer advice on how to manage your business during this busy season and tips for boosting sales. It’s as simple as that!

kate-spade-miss-piggy

Kate Spade: Teaming Up With an Influencer

If you’re familiar with the Kate Spade brand, you know they are all about bright colors and having fun throughout the year. It’s basically the go-to brand for the classy party girl, which makes it perfect during the holiday season.

A quick scroll through their Instagram feed will reveal perfectly styled posts and images that will have you feeling festive and ready to dance, drink, and be merry in no time at all. Kate Spade has also enlisted the help of celebrities over the years to be the face of their brand, including for their holiday campaigns.

Back in 2014, Anna Kendrick starred in the brand’s first ever “Miss Adventure” episode. It shows the fun side of Kate Spade, as the two-minute video features Kendrick being locked out of her New York City apartment. Instead of freaking out, Kendrick makes the most of it, like any Kate Spade girl would! She chats on the phone, plays with an adorable puppy, tries on the clothes she just purchased, and even pops some champagne! All of this goes on while Anna is surrounded by the Christmas decorations on her front stoop.

This year, things are a little different for Kate Spade. While they are teaming up with an influencer, it’s not Anna Kendrick. Nor is it even a human! Miss Piggy is the star of this year’s Kate Spade campaign, which is quite an unconventional choice, but is sure to get people talking.

The Takeaway: Consider teaming up with an influencer for your holiday marketing campaigns. The key is to choose someone who resonates with your audience for maximum impact. If an influencer isn’t right for you, you could also consider a collaboration with another brand as a way to spread the holiday cheer!

apple-frankie-holiday

Apple: Tugging at Your Heartstrings

Apple is pretty well known for doing a great job with their marketing campaigns. The company has had major success with their Mac versus PC television commercials from years back. (Who remembers those?) And more recently, they have created the ultimate user-generated campaign with their “Shot on an iPhone” advertisements. It’s pretty clear they have some smart people working behind-the-scenes on the brand’s marketing.

This year’s holiday commercial is no exception. At a time where the United States has become rather divided after a rocky election and the world remains on edge due to terrorism and other issues, Apple is promoting unity with their new ad entitled, “Frankie’s Holiday.” After all, that’s what the holiday season is all about. It isn’t about the gifts underneath the tree. It’s about bringing family and friends together while spreading love and holiday cheer.

The bigger message of this commercial is heard loud and clear, but Apple does still use it as a way to subtly promote their product without being in-your-face. It’s an ad that is sure to resonate with many people worldwide and tug at a few heartstrings.

The Takeaway: A great holiday marketing campaign has some emotion behind it. It’s the best way to draw in your audience and inspire them to take action, no matter what your message may be.

Wrapping Up Your Holiday Content

Now that we’ve given you tips for creating your holiday content and you have some brands to turn to for inspiration, it’s time to get started with your holiday editorial calendar (if you haven’t already).

Tweaking your content to fit with the holiday season, whether it’s blog posts, emails, social media posts, or even your product descriptions, can really boost brand awareness and increase sales this time of year!

holiday content coupon ew

holiday content

5 Tips for Creating Irresistibly Tasty Holiday Content for Your Readers

Picture this…

You’re eating some turkey with a side of potatoes and gravy. The smell of thyme and rosemary overwhelm your senses. The fresh cornbread stuffing aroma dances across your nose. The tart and sweet blend of cranberry sauce in the distance…

Salivating?

Now, let’s move to content. Did you know that product descriptions, blog posts and even website content can all be tailored to your target holiday using inspirations from that holiday?

Sights, sounds, smells, and tastes all recharge your existing content and make it holiday-ready. But here’s the million-dollar question…

How do you take something as delicious as Grandma’s turkey and create killer content for your brand that inspires readers to take action during the holidays?

To find out, let’s dive into the gravy boat:

how to write holiday content

5 Tips for Better Holiday Content and Holiday-Driven Conversions

The holidays are prime time for site owners. It’s an opportunity to take the content you have, revamp it, and make it appeal to those shopping for the season. Before you start hyperventilating at the idea of rewriting all the content, eek: keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be super hard if you have some direction.

Here are our five best tips (scroll past the infographic by our amazing designer for the full details):

5 Tips for Creating Tasty Content Infographic for Thanksgiving

1. Add a Taste of Seasons’ Greetings to Your Homepage

We’re not suggesting you go crazy here.

Think of it like decorating your online presence with a Christmas wreath. Adding in a little holiday spirit creates a sense of festivity and shows that you’re all about the season, says GetResponse.

Add some images that represent the holiday, like a pumpkin and some fall leaves. (For Christmas, add in snowflakes, a snowman, and possibly some Christmas lights.)

Look at Sephora. This online beauty retailer created a festive, cute way to display their highlighted products and all they added was a little red ribbon and holiday cheer.

sephora

Simple changes go a long way, folks.

2. Play on the Sayings of the Season

There’s plenty of inspiration when you think about famous sayings of the season.

Take HBO for example. In 2015, they created their 12 Days of HBO Now header for their homepage. It played on the 12 Days of Christmas, had a little festivity, and reminded you of the upcoming season.

12 days

Think about your favorite holiday songs or sayings. TinyPrints shares a list of their favorite Christmas sayings that you can use for inspiration.

Want some humor in your Thanksgiving posts? Then take some quote inspiration shared by Brandon Specktor at Reader’s Digest.

Bottom line, take a phrase, lyric or common saying of the holidays and twist it to benefit your holiday pitch.

3. Create Holiday Specific Content that is Helpful to Viewers

Now is the time to show off your strengths.

Flex your wordsmith muscles and get to work!

You can share your industry insider tips, tricks, and even guides to everything holiday.

Of course, it needs to be relevant to what you’re offering or selling on your website.

For example, you sell beauty products.

For a holiday twist, add in some tips and guide posts into your content marketing plan. Such as offering eyeshadow tips unique to Christmas. Talk about what lipsticks to wear that won’t come off while downing that turkey at Thanksgiving. Compare blush colors to wines that are likely to be served during holiday festivities.

You get where we are going here, right?

Readers love it when you show off your talents.

Even better, use these tips and guides as an opportunity to link into related and recommended products from your site. According to KISSMetrics, people are more likely to purchase your products when they are recommended in holiday-specific content.

Think of content that keeps people coming back. Like Pinterest did with their 30 Days of Pinspiration.

pinspiration

Not only was it branded superbly, but then it continued to get people to come back and check out the next Pinspiration for the holiday season.

4. Don’t Forget the Procrastinators

Let’s face it.

Consumers are notorious for last minute shopping.

While it means they are rushing to find a gift quick, it is an opportunity for you to show off products and ideas that work for those last-minute pickups.

Try to carve out space on your homepage or even in your blog about last-minute gift ideas. Consider offering up downloadable or digital gift cards to your company; something that can easily be purchased the night before it needs to be gifted.

Kiplinger recommends highlighting email-delivered gift cards, software downloads, subscriptions, and monetary gifts for last-minute.

5. Play on Relatable Moments

There are plenty of moments out there that relate to your content and the holiday you’re targeting.

For example, Jessica Gioglio at Convince and Convert highlights how Century 21 played on competitive eater Geoffrey Esper at Thanksgiving with their message:

“Century 21 agents sell homes like competitive eater Geoffrey Esper eats: fast.”

There are plenty of gifs you can add to your holiday content as well; then, share them on social media.

For example, when you and your family try (and fail) to take a group photo for Christmas – or you and your office get together for a recreation of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. classic.

dunder mifflin holidays

Think of pop culture TV shows that the majority of your audience have seen. This will require you to have some knowledge about your target audience — such as their age, gender, career, etc.

However, when you know your target audience well, you can find funny, relatable moments that correlate with TV shows and movies to make your content more appealing (and entertaining to boot).

Holiday Content: Wrap It Up with a Bow

We’ve given you are insight and secrets into how to create holiday-specific content that really speaks to your reader.

Of course, now you must bring it all together.

By now you should feel less overwhelmed and more ready to tackle the holiday task.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you can start revamping your Christmas content and even prepare for those Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers that you need to cultivate for 2017 success.

If you’re not quite ready to tackle the content side of things, we here at Express Writers are more than happy to help you create holiday-ready content!  Whether you want your product descriptions rewritten, blogs inspired by the holidays, or some cute taglines that capture your shoppers, we’re here and ready.

Visit our Content Shop to order your holiday-ready content, written just in time for the season! Use coupon code holidayshop5, good for 5% off any order. Valid till end of December.

merry christmas

Merry Christmas From Express Writers! Bonus: How To Create Awesome Holiday Campaigns

We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas, …And a Happy New Year! 


 

Merry Christmas From Express Writers!

It’s already the end of 2015. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are upon us!

I hope that you’re not spending too much time in front of the work screen, but if you are, you should read this one blog. (Insert brazen-faced winky emoticon.)  I hope it’ll inspire you and that you’ll leave with some content marketing tips you can start using right now – and bring into your New Year.

First: Why Christmas Doesn’t Have To (Ever) Be Your “Slow” Season

I’m even more excited to bring you this holiday post and hereby “blog,” or “work,” on the holidays, because, well, December is becoming our hottest month of the entire year! 

I couldn’t believe it myself, but we broke records and had over 1,000 pages of content ordered in 48 hours, our first week of December. This is the most we’ve had ordered in 48 hours since I created the company, in 2011.

Our financial graph for the entire year looks like this:

financial graph express writers

(The lowest point, in January, looks lower than it was because we actually started our online Content Shop then and had all our clients begin placing orders online.)

We still have one more half-week in December, and our team is in the office throughout this month still – so we expect the year to end with our busiest month yet!

That’s my reason directly to you why December doesn’t need to be your slowest month. We actually saw it become our best month for 2015 – which means anyone can, too, provided they never let go of the hustle and effort it takes to get a best foot forward and put in some real work and passion.

Copywriting Tips for the Holidays (and Beyond)

Even as the holidays are quickly whizzing past us, there’s still plenty of time to hone your skills for your holiday campaigns and start converting readers into buyers. But before you do, let’s take a look at the top copywriting tips to get your writing into shape.

8 Top Copywriting Hacks

1. 90% Of Your Time Should Be Spent Crafting Killer Headlines

There’s a lot to be said on the topic of headlines. Strong conversion copywriters spend at least 90 percent of their time crafting one, or two… or three for every piece.

It’s important not to stuff your headlines with keywords. And while you’re at it, throw out everything you were taught by those old-school SEO dictators on how to craft those headers. Make them attention-grabbing, borrow from winning formulas, do what you got to, to reel readers in.

Here’s an important tip to remember: great headlines are very often incarnations of the value proposition of the very thing you’re trying to sell.

Here’s another tip: ask yourself this about the prospect you’re writing for: “what was going on in their life that brought them to you today?”

2. Write Amazing Headlines Using “Without”, “Even If” and “Data”

There’s so much to be said about headlines and that’s because they really are THAT important. Here are a few things you could include to help make your headers stand out:

  • Use an “even if” clause to overcome hesitation
  • Add a little data about the outcome
  • Replace “even with” with “without” – what don’t your readers have to do to get the result?

3. Stay Away From Positioning Statements – Use Value Propositions

At its very core, a value proposition needs to express what’s desirable and unique about your offer. Never confuse it with a positioning statement. You should state something about that your product does. You can include an end benefit. But don’t make your value proposition a laundry list of benefits.

4. Get To Know Different Types of Awareness

There are a couple of different kinds of awareness your readers will have during the sales process. Depending on the stage of awareness they’re at, they’re going to need different messaging and content:

  • Pain Aware – in this stage people respond to seeing solutions to their pain, or even their own pain.
  • Solution Aware – this is where people respond to high-level benefits, so avoid thinking of the problem and think of the solution.
  • Problem Aware – during this phase, people realize they actually have a problem but don’t know how to solve it.
  • Product/Brand Aware – here people want to know what best and biggest benefit your product has to offer before they’re introduced to the benefits. People love the phrase, “but wait! There’s more!”
  • Completely Unaware – during this phrase, people are completely clueless about their problems.

5. Embracing Similarities Between Taglines and Value Propositions

Sometimes the very best taglines are actually your value propositions (as discussed above), just whittled down smaller while being specific.

6. Keeping Swipe Files for Inspiration

Never heard of a swipe file? It’s a collection of content that you can use for ideas – all that memorable stuff that’s resonated with you. Save everything you love so when the well runs dry, you have a file full of inspiration.

7. To Write Content That Shocks and Generates Shares, Go Ahead and Pick a Fight!

Take a completely accepted way of doing things and go and turn it on its head. Don’t be insulting, though, just provocative.

8. Top X Lists Can Still Work

These lists can work well, provided they add something meaningful to the conversation. Try to be better. Aim to be different.

5 Tips for Effective Holiday Content You Can Do Now

Here are 5 bonus tips for crafting effective holiday content as you leave my blog today (and go eat chocolates, or open gifts, and enjoy your holiday – in short, get away from the computer :D).

1. What Are Your Customer’s Holiday Needs?

One of the best things about the holiday rush is you get to offer your customers great value when you create content that will help them cross something off their to-do list, saves them time or makes the holidays more fun. Consider what your readers are trying to accomplish this holiday season and help them achieve their objectives.

Example: Express Writers’ 2015 Giveaway

This Christmas, we decided to give back and create the ultimate giveaway of five free days of gifts – for five total gifts. We created landing pages for each of the products after we finished creating the actual product (which ranged from a 10-day email course to eBooks and PDF resources), then wrote a blog and landing page for the entire campaign. We then socialized this like crazy–pinning to our Twitter, posting it on Instagram, highlighting on our Facebook business page, and more. We’ll probably even make a few Twitter ads for it, and we’ve already scheduled an email campaign for it.

2. Target Specific Audiences to Improve Performance

While the bigger brands and media organizations tend to create content that appeals to a wider audience, one of the best ways to drive performance for a holiday campaign is to determine the audience who is most likely to purchase your products and then create content catering to their interests and needs.

Let’s say you are a sports apparel brand, a very general holiday gift guide with products ranging from home décor to high-tech gadgets is far too wide-ranging to capture a particular audience’s attention. Rather create specific posts like “10 Perfect Gifts for The Sports Woman In Your Life.”

3. Make Sure the Subject Matter Fits Your Brand

Here’s another thing to keep in mind: your content needs to address a subject that you and your brand actually have the authority to speak about. Even if someone who purchases a state-of-the-art television set is likely to indulge in a fancy cocktail this holiday season, I highly doubt that customer is going to take much note of a post titled “5 Great Champagnes To Try This New Year’s Eve” that’s been put together by a tech company!

Discussing topics that fall naturally under your brand’s preview means you can give consumers a reason to trust your content and want to read it all the way through to the end.

For a cool example of what does work, take a look at Verizon’s post. In their post they perfectly targeted gift-givers who were in the market for those under-the-radar tech accessories, and the subject matter is perfectly aligned with what the tech company have to offer.

4. A Sense of Urgency Is Key. Your Customers Are Expecting It

One of the main challenges of marketing during holiday time is that you only have a short period of time. If people don’t make their purchase before the end of the year, they’re not likely to return to your brand in January, are they? What’s more, if you fail to be aggressive about converting readers into paying customers, there’s a big chance they will make that purchase from a competitor.

sales call

While more blatant sales pitches could turn people off any other time of the year, customers tend to be more receptive to them at holiday time as they’re actively shopping and in fact, they are expecting companies to promote featured product items. So it’s easier to create a sense of urgency with your customers by presenting them with exclusive sales offers that expire within a certain amount of days or hours, enticing them to buy from you before even bothering to see what your competitors are selling.

Even if you don’t wish to use calls to action in your content, you can still create a robust retargeting plan that will resonate with your most engaged audience with a tailored sales pitch later on in the holiday season.

5. Launch Your Content Early and Start Testing It

It’s really never too late to start laying out your holiday content campaigns. Of course you want to get a head start so that you can optimize exactly how you’re going to promote your work in order to reach out to your audience. So let’s say you have five pieces of Cyber Monday content, be sure to give yourself enough time to see which articles perform best in order to allocate more budget towards those winners in the days leading up to your sale.

You can run a range of similar experiments, both on social media and in content recommendations, with your thumbnail images and headlines to see which combinations will drive engagement and therefore conversions.

One of the best things about holiday campaigns is that you know they’re going to come around, so you can give yourself loads of time to create amazing campaigns that will get you the results you want.

Does the idea of creating any kind of content campaign terrify you? Don’t worry, at Express Writers we know how to create and deliver on expert content that says all the right things for your audience,  just in time for the holidays!

black friday sale

Why We Didn’t Have a Black Friday Sale

This is an original short by Julia McCoy, CEO of Express Writers.

Everyone around me, everywhere I look, is having some sort of “Blowout Black Friday Clearance Deal NOW!” I flipped through (and instantly deleted) maybe 50 emails with some version of this title just today.

Now I’m not one to stop anyone from going to sales or having them. If that’s in your best interests, by all means—enjoy Black Friday.

Why We Didn’t Have A Blowout Black Friday Sale

How come we were one of the very few businesses who didn’t send out one of these emails or put out a quick promo code on social media?

black friday sale

For the new people perusing this. Express Writers is a copywriting agency. Our job is to write and create high quality content, web pages, ongoing blogs, sales pages, resumes, you-name-it—for businesses of all sizes and types.

My point is we don’t sell a product. We sell services. Human services.

And creative services, at that. No machine can replace a pen wielded by a real human with an active brain that has been endowed with the extra cells of writing creativity. We don’t sell a product we can mass-produce at once, sit in the closet, and ship out at a moment’s notice. Or what can be discounted for a quick sale at the end of the year.

Human services shouldn’t be discounted just because the commercial, product-oriented world has declared the Friday after Thanksgiving THE day for “blowout sales”.

4 Reasons Writing Doesn’t Ever Deserve a Coupon Code

1. It’s humanly created. Did I say yet that writing is a service written specifically to order, EVERY time it’s ordered? That is, if you want high quality. There’s services like Constant Content where writers bucket articles with random keywords, and you can come and buy those. I don’t recommend this, because in 2015/2016, to stand out in a huge sea of content marketing, you need to be unique; have your own voice; research and put a lot of work in; and have your own expertise angle to become a thought leader (a factor of winning content online).

2. It always takes time. Writers are working on the clock. If they give you a discount, chances are they have to rush through that piece and not spend as much time so they can make a decent hourly rate. And that’s why we don’t ever allow bartering. We know how much time is required by not just the writer, but our management; content specialists; and editorial staff on every single content piece (we never skip the quality process on anything). So, we charge to make the process worth our time, each time.

3. It’s too valuable. Would you ask your heart surgeon for a discount? Would you ask your chiropractor? Replace that with any service you value. Writing isn’t necessarily heart surgery, but it’s a talent to be valued. This ties into our human creation process mentioned. It also has huge ROI if you pick the right creative writer. Just don’t think of asking a good copywriter for a discount on their talents. The value is too high.

4. Writing is an art. A fading art, a God-given talent that not everyone can boast of. I meet a lot of people who say they can write or edit, but once they’re given our SEO and content tests, cannot. To truly create high quality content for the web is actually getting harder to do, because it’s hard to find a good copywriter who is dedicated and given to their trade.

So, don’t do a quick sale if you’re among those offering a human deliverable. Something that requires brain cells to come up with and deliver to specific order details, not in mass amounts that will sit on shelves for unlimited dates.

Here’s to the rebels of Black Friday.

Those who don’t conform and discount themselves to match the commercialization of America.

If you’re humanly creating what you’re selling for a living, don’t cheapen yourself for 24 hours just to match a short-lived fad.

I leave you with this quote by Eric Thomas:

Quotefancy-30012-3840x2160

To get high quality, non-cheap quality writing services 365 days of the year, visit our Content Shop.

turkey day content writing tips

Turkey Day Content Tips: How to Create Great Content from the Thanksgiving Holiday

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Express Writers!

turkey day content writing tips

This Thanksgiving season, we hope you’re enjoying some well-earned time off!

That being said, in our industry, we don’t really see it as time off from content creation. That’s because Thanksgiving is a great time to create some seriously fun content. The festiveness of the season and the air of celebration in the air mean that Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to create and distribute content your readers will love.

Just how do you go about this?

5 Thanksgiving Content Tips Readers Will Love

Don’t be a turkey, make holiday content work for you this Thanksgiving Day! Here are five of our top holiday content tips for creating memorable Thanksgiving-themed content.

1. Snap and Share Photos of Your Holiday Celebration

40% of people respond better to visual content than they do text, so don’t hesitate to take some photos this holiday season. Don’t be shy to share your personal festivities!

Snap pictures of your movements throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, whether you volunteer, spend time with family and friends, eat a turkey or a ham, or spend it away from the snow in someplace tropical.

Consider dedicating a blog entirely to photos and then encourage your readers to submit their own photos in the comments. Visual content is a big deal right now and creating some of your own can help people connect to your content and feel the Thanksgiving cheer!

2. Share Traditions

You look forward to it every Thanksgiving: Grandma’s creamy, gooey, delicious pumpkin pie – the recipe for which she got from her grandmother. Why not share the love this Thanksgiving and share the recipe with your fans?

Doing this provides value on a few different levels: first of all, you’re giving your readers something actionable that they can apply to their lives and, secondly, you’re giving them pie and who doesn’t love pie?

If you don’t have a coveted family recipe to share with your readers, consider telling them about the traditions you do have over the holidays and then encourage them to share their traditions as well. This engages readers in your content and helps them feel seen, respected, and cared for by your brand.

3. Give Back

Do you have something that can benefit someone else? Why not use the Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity to give it away? Whether you run a class that can help fans learn something new or you sell a product that can enhance people’s lives, Thanksgiving is the ideal time to run a promotion that allows your customers to enter for a chance to win.

Holiday promotions give people something to get excited about and, in advance of the Christmas holiday, promotions may even help your customers get that special someone a gift they’ve always wanted.

No matter how you choose to structure your promotion, Thanksgiving is shouldered by two of the biggest shopping days of the year (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) so this is a great time to give some gifts and share the joy!

4. Share What You’re Thankful About

What is Thanksgiving all about, after all? One of the best ways to create great content this Thanksgiving is simply to be thankful! Be thankful for your readers and your business partners and all of the people who have helped you get where you are today and then tell them so.

Consider sending your readers a heartfelt “thank-you” email or offering small incentives as a showing of your gratitude. No matter what you choose to do, Thanksgiving is a fantastic time to let the people near you know exactly how much you appreciate them.

5. Try New Things

If you’ve never done a podcast before but Crazy Aunt Lisa is coming to Thanksgiving dinner and she’s got some serious stories, right now might be a great time to dip your foot into a new content form.

Whether you’ve been meaning to move from short-form to long-form or textual to visual, the Thanksgiving holiday is a great time to take advantage of the abundance of your surroundings to step into uncharted content waters.

In addition to keeping you on your creative toes, this can also help you keep your site fresh and keep readers interested.

Take These Content Tips and Go Forth!

There you have it – our top 5 content tips for creating great marketing this Thanksgiving season. While we hope that your Thanksgiving holiday inspires you to crank out some exciting new content, we also hope that your Thanksgiving holiday is filled with all the things that are really important: friends, family, and happiness for one and for all!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the Express Writers team.

turkey day content writing tips

holiday content ads

5 Awesome Holiday Content Ads

Christmastime is here, which means there are several great holiday content ads out and about—from the TV to out there in the wild. This year, while I made my Christmas shopping rounds, I decided to carry my superpower copywriter glasses and along the shopping way, caught a few great Christmas ads and setups to inspire you for Christmas and holiday marketing.

I saw many a Santa, Rudolph’s red nose a-gleaming in multiple locations, and heard Christmas carols till I couldn’t anymore. It was really a great time and I am happy to share some of what I saw with you! Here are a few stores and a charity that really captured the Christmas advertising spirit!

1. Salvation Army – Firefighters and Bag Pipes. While out doing my Christmas shopping, I noticed that there were several bell ringers out for the Salvation Army. This is something that I absolutely enjoy about the holidays because many people will feel more inclined to give during the season, helping many. However, I’ve recently noticed that the volunteers seem to blend into the background and some people might just ignore them in the hustle and bustle of gift buying.

When I was walking up to a store on my Christmas route, I noticed something different about some volunteers – they were firefighters and one had bagpipes. Mr. Bagpipe Guy (this is his unofficial name) wasn’t playing anything yet; just chatting with other shoppers. I went inside the store to buy my gifts and some decorations, and when I headed through the crowds and checkout lines to the door, I heard Mr. Bagpipe Guy playing Greensleeves. He then switched to other Christmas hymns as shoppers bustled in and out. However, every single shopper made sure to take a few seconds out of their busy shopping to gather some change and drop it into the donation bucket.

I thought this was absolutely brilliant on the Salvation Army’s part! People are more willing to support the men and women who protect us, no matter what line of work they are in. And who doesn’t like hearing bagpipes play on Christmas – there’s just something very Christmas-like about them. While not exactly an ad, this probably helped bring in more donations for the Salvation Army.

2. Bass Pro Shops. If you live in the Midwest or South (or a few select Northern areas) then you know all about Bass Pro Shops. Whether you are a hunter, fisher or just like some great quality flannel, you know Bass Pro is the place to go. Bass Pro happened to be on my route of Christmas shopping. Currently, there isn’t a major season such as hunting or fishing that Bass Pro would normally advertise for, except, of course, Christmas. They had deals galore for everything from camouflage to Under Armor and various nice clothing.

One thing I did notice is that Bass Pro is taking the flannel fad and are making it readily available and mostly affordable with many Christmas deals. This is a great example of jumping on the latest trend wagon even if you don’t know how you can market to certain demographics. They marketed the flannel shirts as great gifts for family and friends, with fashion tips for how to wear it or advice on how certain flannel is good for cold weather camping or wearing around the house.

Bass Pro made sure to incorporate the holiday spirit into all of their advertisement and they even have a Santa Claus for kids to get pictures with. This gives families from all over the chance to go to a shop that interests them while still enjoying the holidays. I love seeing the various Santa Claus’ everywhere and think this is a perfect holiday ad. How many people are more willing to buy from a store after seeing Santa? I’m sure many of us are! Santa just says, “Merry Christmas!” Everyone who sees him can’t help but smile and get into the Christmas spirit.

3. Locally Owned Bookstores Know How to Sell Books. While I was out and about, the one thing I really wanted to do was buy a few books for friends at locally owned shops. I enjoy supporting local as much as possible because it helps support more than just the shop, but my community as well. This particular store has had a pretty awesome social media approach to the holidays sharing photos when it snows as well as photos of Christmastime from various stock photo sites. When you walk in the store, you are instantly greeted and the smell of old books greets you, as well. The bookstore is prepped and ready for Christmas and they constantly encourage followers to support local for the holidays. I really enjoyed this and thought their holiday social media approach was really a great way to bring people in this holiday season.

4. Target Isn’t Just Celebrating Christmas and the New Year. One thing I find very important when it comes to the holiday season is for stores to have sections available for other holidays celebrated around Christmastime. The most well known holiday is that of Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, which lasts eight days. Many stores only market for Christmas, or, if they market for the Jewish holiday, they only have a small end cap tucked away in a corner. However, Target understands what it means to, well, hit the marketing target and reach out to a wider audience.

As I went through their store, I saw content ads galore for Christmas and even went to their “Christmas Shop,” which is filled with tons of Christmas décor. However, on my way, I couldn’t help but notice their rather large and obvious section of Hanukkah decorations, cards, gift ideas, and hilarious toys, including Mensch on a Bench. This is a great idea for those who celebrate the holiday for religious or family reasons, as well as those who would like to keep the tradition alive. The combination of Christmas and Hanukkah in Target was a great marketing move on their part by welcoming in both holidays. What a way to make everyone happy no matter which holiday they celebrate!

5. Barnes and Noble Knows Impulse Buys, Lines, and Santa! The next stop on my Christmas shopping trek was Barnes and Noble. Again, I had a list of different books to get family and friends, and was quite excited to head into the store to find the gifts. When I entered, I noticed that the line was horrendously long, but I also noticed that the store had set up something rather ingenious – the impulse buy Disneyland line. (If you don’t know what Disneyland line is, it is one that snakes around several times, fitting many people into a smaller space.) This is exactly what Barnes and Noble did, but they made sure that people had plenty to look at and buy throughout the entire line.

However, I didn’t head to the line right away – I had presents to buy! I gathered the items from my list, including kid’s books and when I went to the fun kid section, they had a special visitor. That’s right, the man himself, Mr. Santa Claus! Kids were so excited to see him and all were gathered around talking. I liked this particular setup because Santa wasn’t surrounded by tons of fake presents and a line of red rope. In fact, he was sitting in a simple wooden rocking chair with space all around him making it easy for kids to approach him no matter what. This is such a great idea and all of the kids really enjoyed it because once someone finished with a picture, every child was able to crowd around the jolly man and talk his ear off. This made Santa approachable and you could tell that every kid was incredibly happy to be that close to him for so long.

After getting my items, I headed to the line and noticed that it was rather small now. As I walked through the snaking aisles leading to the registers, I saw interesting item after interesting item. While it might not be my proudest moment, I fell for the impulse buy because Barnes and Noble made sure to have something for everyone. As a copywriter, I saw this as something awesome because many impulse buy sections can easily fail if they don’t have enough of a variety. Barnes and Noble did, and I don’t think a single person got through that line without making an impulse purchase or two.

As I got to the front, I realized the snaking aisle was not just a way to promote impulse buys, but to also get people through quicker. They had a helper at the front of the line, directing people to open cash registers and each worker at the registers moved with skilled efficiency all while being cheerful. Barnes and Noble was a pleasant shopping experience, and I have to say, it may have been my favorite of the day.

One Store Failed at Christmas Marketing & Holiday Content Ads

On my journeys, I did come across one store that did not show any Christmas cheer with ads or decorations. I am going to take a look at this and show you how to avoid following their example.

Don’t Follow The Example of Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I did see quite a bit of amazing Christmas advertising in the way of adding Christmas cheer and businesses simply being nice. However, I went to one store that was a downright fail when it came to Christmas marketing, which I think can be a great lesson as to why holiday spirit is vital to your business.

When I walked up to the front door of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I was looking for Christmas decorations. This is such a wonderful time of year, and I love seeing how each and every place decorates whether it is a business or a house. I didn’t notice anything major – no decals, lights, or even a wreath. Once inside, there wasn’t anything remotely Christmas; no content ads, zero decorations, and I noticed that it was the first store where I didn’t hear Christmas music. The one thing I did happen to notice however was that everyone, staff included, seemed grumpy and ready to get out of the store. I feel that this is correlated with the lack of Christmas cheer. We all know Christmas shopping is stressful and everyone can be rather grumpy at times, but you usually see some people happy as they shop. You especially notice that people perk up when Christmas shopping if they see lots of neat decorations and hear classic Christmas hymns and popular songs crooning from the stereo system.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond had a great chance to get more people to buy more items, but all anyone could think of was getting what they came for and leaving. I noticed I had zero inclination to grab any impulse buys or look around. In fact, my thought was that I could get a few things if I went back to Target, which seemed preferable to this Grinch-like store. This is not something any store wants – they don’t want to lose sales to their competitors. When it is the holiday season, if you question whether or not you should add some great Christmas cheer, always opt for adding it! It will make everyone happy and convince people to shop with you or use more of your services simply because you put them in a good mood.

Wishing All of Our Clients a Very Merry Christmas!

I enjoyed going out and shopping, but also looking for some great business Christmas spirit to inspire you! I hope you were able to glean some great information from these stores and can use them in your next Christmas ad campaign whether online or in a physical store or shop.

From all of us here at Express Writers, we want to wish you a very merry Christmas! Take the chance to enjoy time with your family this Christmas season.

Photo credit: Kmonroe2 / iStock

 

 

Top 9 Companies That Nail Holiday Content

As retailers rush to prepare for the flood of holiday shoppers, marketing departments are working in full swing to develop creative Christmas marketing strategies for their customers. The holidays are a great opportunity to add a special touch to marketing campaigns, and there are certain companies that have truly nailed the holiday touch of web content for 2014.

Nine Companies That Hit the Mark on Awesome Holiday Content

What companies were really in the spirit this season? Here is a list of Christmas marketing campaigns that are sure to catch your eye.

 1. John Lewis – Monty The Penguin

monty the penguin

John Lewis is a one-stop shop for electronics, furniture, home décor, and more. This UK based company has created a Christmas marketing campaign involving a little boy named Sam and his best friend Monty the penguin. Their TV commercial tells the sweet story of the duo doing all kinds of activities together, from feeding ducks at the park to decorating the Christmas tree. Monty begins to feel empty because he’s looking for love, and he’s in store for a surprise Christmas morning. However, the viewer might be in for a bigger surprise.

This Christmas campaign is brilliant for three reasons: it connects to the viewer on an emotional level, it tells a story, and the penguin is adorable. See for yourself:

The story of Monty does not end with the commercial. On the John Lewis website, there is an entire section dedicated to Sam and Monty. The Monty section has a variety of interactive elements, including a 360-degree panoramic world of Sam and Monty. There are various scenes that kids can explore, with most of them stemming straight from the commercial.

explore montys world

Fans of Monty also have an opportunity to buy a book and a stuffed replica.

montys christmas

Monty: A Penguin That Tweets

Want to know what Monty is up to at every minute? You are in luck – Monty the penguin also happens to have his very own Twitter account. What is it exactly that a penguin tweets about? Find out by following him on Twitter.

monty twitter

There are a lot of great holiday campaigns, but John Lewis hits the Christmas marketing aspect from every angle possible. Few companies go as far as creating tangible items based on their Christmas campaign. There is a lot of competition here with John Lewis, and Monty the penguin (complete with his own hash tag #MontyThePengiun) is going to be a tough act to follow.

2. Kmart – Jingle Bellies

Kmart’s new Christmas ad featuring the ‘Jingle Bellies’ is a promo for Joe Boxer. Kmart had a similar commercial last year called ‘Show Your Joe’ that went viral on Youtube with over 18 million views.

This year, Kmart played off of the 2013 commercial with the new Jingle Bellies. This ad has a few guys drumming to the beat of popular Christmas music using their bellies, with a pair of silver Joe Boxer boxers making their debut at the end.

The ad has been posted on Youtube for about a week now, and it already has over 1 million views. Maybe the Jingle Bellies have a chance of going viral, too?

Bath and Body Works Nails Visual Merchandising and Display

If any retailer hammers home the holidays in their products, it’s Bath and Body Works. The soap and lotion retailer has a knack for visual merchandising in their stores, and their window displays really help lure you in to check out more.

bath and body works

Once you enter the store, there is even more holiday set up that grabs the eye.

bath and body works store

Bath and Body Works really works with the visual aspect of marketing, and it really works for their products in store.

However, Bath and Body Works also jazzed up their website for 2014’s Christmas season.

bath and body works website

They gave their logo a holiday overhaul by stringing lights through the latters of their name. The polar bear background also rotates to showcase more holiday product, where they play on words to emphasize the holidays.

bath and body works products

Lastly, Bath and Body Works holiday products always stand out in terms of visual appearance. They go big during the holidays with bright colors, metallic finishes, and some products contain glitter to give that true holiday sparkle.

4. Marks and Spencer – Follow The Fairies

British companies are upping their game this year with Christmas advertising, and Marks and Spencer is no exception. As a competitor of John Lewis, Marks and Spencer’s holiday campaign features fairies that dust an entire town with sparkle, helping people find lost pets, and bringing children outside to play in the snow. The campaign is called ‘Follow the Fairies’, and they are following in the footsteps of John Lewis by using social media elements (#FollowTheFairies) to tie their Christmas campaign together.

You can watch the video on The Guardian website.

Evidence of the fairies campaign exists on the Marks and Spencer website, but it does not have its own dedicated section like Monty the Penguin.

marks and spencer

Marks and Spencer adds touches to the campaign instead, adding the fairies to the gift finder section. I think they could have played up the fairies a bit more on their website, but it is still a cute concept overall.

5. Old Navy

Old Navy usually has fun Christmas campaigns, and this year they are decking out their website to prep for Black Friday. Their header graphic features a count down to the days left to the biggest shopping day of the year, and their homepage is filled to the brink with deals for the big day.

old navy

6. Target’s Wish List App is Great For Kids

Target is another company that usually has decent Christmas marketing campaigns, and their website for 2014 is decked out for the holidays. Their holiday website design elements are on the subtle side, with golden stars adding a bit of sparkle to their homepage.

target

Target also offers a wish list app where kids can build lists directly on smartphones and tablets.

target wish list

When you open the app, pop ups appear on the home screen that announces deals and freebies.

target popup

The app is divided into two sections: adults and children. You have to enter the name of a child in order to create a wish list account on the app.

The adult view of the wish list is comparable to what you would see on the website. However, the child’s wish list account is a little more magical.

target wish list for kids

Kids can pick their own character, ranging from elves to gingerbread and snowmen to help build their wish list. Once they select a character, they move on to another interactive scene where they can build a wish list from the wishing headquarters and decorate individual rooms.

target wish list interactive

This app is a great option for kids building a wish list that enjoy gaming and interactive elements of Christmas.

Target’s Christmas commercial features Alice in Marshmallow Land, where a small girl goes through Alice in Wonderland inspired adventures, including falling through a Target logo rabbit hole and eating marshmallows to grow smaller. Target usually has great holiday commercials, and their 2014 commercial is perfect for the Christmas season.

7. Starbucks – Sparkly Holiday Gifts

When you think about Christmas shopping, most likely Starbucks does not pop into your head. However, similar to Bath and Body Works, Starbucks adds sparkle and shine to their products for the holidays.

starbucks

Starbucks’ home page features a graphic to guide you into their holiday tumbler and product selection. Their holiday collection shop is filled with metallic mugs featuring Christmas trees, ornaments, and gift sets.

starbucks website

Starbucks’ website presentation and graphics really hit the spot for extra holiday cheer.

8. Cardstore.com Candid Christmas Cards Contest

cardstore.com

Cardstore has a funny contest running right now called the Candid Christmas Cards Contests. Cardstore is looking for candid Christmas photos that capture the ‘real life’ aspect of Christmas – kids crying on Santa’s lap, holiday mishaps, and any other occasions that are candidly caught on camera.

candid Christmas card

Have any holiday photos like this? Cardstore might just make you a winner.

9. Petsmart’s Holiday Moments and Save a Life Campaign

Don’t forget your pets this holiday season. Petsmart has quite a few holiday elements happening on their website right now, and it is not just all about buying treats and toys for your pet. Petsmart has a Holiday Moment widget, where they feature customers tweeting holiday photos of their pets.

petsmart

Petsmart’s Pinterest is also decked out for the holidays, with a board solely dedicated to pet gift inspiration. One of their most popular pins features a Christmas wreath made entirely from Christmas dog collars.

petsmart pinterest

Of course, there is always the opportunity to save a life through Petsmart this year. Petsmart offers toys with proceeds helping homeless animals, direct options to donate, or even adopting a pet of your very own for the holidays.

petsmart donation

As the season progresses, there are bound to be even more companies that are putting out genius holiday content. There are always the companies that consistently put out great holiday content every year, such as Budweiser and Coke. However, there always seems to be a company that surprises everyone with a tearjerker campaign or something super creative. Who will that company be this year?

Featured photo credit: chestnutphoto / iStock