6 content marketing lessons from Christmas films

You may not have realised it, but seasonal movies are in fact all about content marketing. From measuring ROI to personalisation, we reveal the content marketing messages hidden in six famous festive flicks.

The Nightmare Before Christmas:  Be customer-focused

“That’s not my Christmas! My Christmas is filled with laughter, and joy.” In every emo teen’s favourite festive flick, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington learns the importance of understanding his market so he can give his ‘customers’ what they want. Not what he likes. People want Christmas, not Halloween; children want to ‘throw snowballs, not heads’. So, in your whiteboard session, you may have conceived what you think is the perfect proposition, but could you explain why it will resonate? Is it based on reality? Inform your creativity with search and clickstream data, and primary research such as stakeholder interviews and focus groups.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie – Stand out from the crowd

With his very shiny nose, Rudolph’s key takeaway for us content marketers is that you shouldn’t be afraid to stand out from your competitors. Brands fight to get their message heard, allocate huge budgets to distribution. But the content landscape is so saturated, how are you going to differentiate your message? Be bold. Be contrarian. Not for the sake of it – but with a clear purpose. There’s possibly more risk if you’re happy to produce anodyne cookie-cutter content that will be lost in the hubbub of social feeds and short attention spans.

Santa Claus: The Movie – Go long on marketing ROI

Upon its release in 1987, Santa Claus: The Movie was a commercial and critical failure. Critic Alonso Duralde called it “a train-wreck of a Christmas film that’s so very wrong that you won’t be able to tear yourself away from it”. But the film recouped a large chunk of its stupendous budget (estimated between $30m and $50m) from VHS sales. It went on to become a seasonal family favourite that those of us of a certain age will remember being on TV every Christmas. So, don’t be too hasty to judge the success or failure of your content marketing efforts. Measure ROI for lead gen not against short-term campaign KPIs, but only when the whole sales cycle is complete. And look towards later-funnel metrics such as retention and advocacy rather than focusing on conversion.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: Ship your minimal lovable content product

In National Lampoon’s festive follow-up to the Griswald family’s calamitous road trips, hapless dad Clark is obsessed with creating the perfect, normal Christmas. And of course, it all goes wrong. What content marketers can learn from Clark is that there’s no need to sweat every pore on getting every element of a campaign absolutely perfect at the expense of ‘shipping’ – of getting it out there in front of its target audience. Don’t agonise over every sentence of your blog. Is that argument over a stock image choice on page 24 of your ebook worth missing the deadline for the whole gig over? We’re not saying put out work that you’re not proud of, but don’t be scared of ‘shipping’ if you don’t think it’s perfect. As Seth Godin said, real artists ship. So, get your minimal lovable product out there, get real-world feedback, iterate and optimise.

Elf: One content size does not fit all audiences

Poor Buddy. Will Ferrell’s character doesn’t know any better –  he assumes that people of short stature are elfin. He also thinks he’s an elf, so he can be forgiven, but marketers must make absolutely sure that their message is appropriate to their audience. With hyper-targeting solutions at our fingertips, there is absolutely no excuse not to serve segmented audiences with relevant messaging together with content that’s valuable to them. Yes, at the very top of the funnel –  say, a TV ad or a billboard –  you can spread the net wide and a 0.2% conversion rate is acceptable. However, if you’re trying to engage a B2B buyer, then personalisation is an expectation. If you’re targeting specific accounts, go hyper-relevant or go home. However, like Buddy’s ‘love interest’, Jovie,

some recipients may find a certain level of personalisation just a little too creepy.…

Arthur Christmas: Marketing automation needs the human touch

Automation may seem like a magic solution to your marketing problems, but there’s no substitute for the human touch. When the North Pole team misses a child in Santa’s prezzie run, Arthur decides to deliver a gift to the child who would otherwise be feeling extremely let down by her service provider. Not that said child would have gone straight onto Twitter to complain, but customers place value in connection, authenticity and empathy, which will earn trust in your brand, and therefore retention and advocacy in the long term. And we don’t just mean inserting a first name in your email comms. Don’t shy away from showing a human side in your brand tone of voice –  even if you’re a B2B marketer, or if you’re writing content to engage an audience of institutional investors.

Content marketing is not just for Christmas. For year-round thought leadership, bookmark the Editions Financial blog.

James Teideman

James Teideman

James is a Content Strategist at Editions Financial. Thanks to many, many years experience in all things content and digital marketing, and a passion for the dark but beautiful art of content marketing strategy, he loves to advise financial sector clients on how to delight their users - and their bottom lines – with inspiring, compelling, business-driven content.