The “Miracle on 34th Street” Effect: Create an Unselfish Marketing Strategy This Holiday Season
Are you wary about posting how-to or DIY blogs on your small business website? Your worries make sense. After all, if you tell your customers how to fix a problem, they may handle it on their own instead of requesting your services.
Still, I’d like to make the case for these instructional blog posts. I think of them as content marketing’s nod to a classic Christmas film, the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street. When done right, how-to and DIY blog posts show that your business cares more about customer satisfaction than the bottom line.
Kris Kringle Puts the Customer Above Profit
Let’s quickly recap the movie plot points that are relevant to our discussion:
- At the famous Thanksgiving Day Parade, Macy’s department store must hire a new Santa last minute to ride in the parade. The parade organizer finds a nice bearded old man on the street and gives him the job.
- This new Santa, a man who goes by Kris Kringle, does so well in the parade that Macy’s hires him to be the in-store Santa Claus during the Christmas season. Store managers instruct Kris to point kids towards certain toys that Macy’s sells.
- Kris Kringle disagrees with this request. Instead, when children ask for hard-to-find toys, Kris tells the parents where they are available, even if he has to send them to a store other than Macy’s.
- When they hear that Kringle is sending customers to other stores, the managers almost fire him. But his job is saved when one customer talks to the toy department manager. She promises to become a loyal Macy’s customer because Kris Kringle gave her a useful—and selfless—shopping tip.
Ultimately, Macy’s decides to use Kris Kringle’s shopping tips as a marketing strategy. All their employees begin offering selfless hints to shoppers. Rival department stores even adopt comparable policies. In the end, sales at Macy’s do not suffer, even though they outright encouraged customers to shop elsewhere.
Real-World Marketing That Puts the Customer First
Okay, so Miracle on 34th Street is a scripted Hollywood film, and it’s impossible to say whether an actual department store would see an increase in profits if they sent customers to other stores.
However, you can find examples of stores putting customers above profits and pushing for less commercialism during the holiday season. Recall how some big-box retailers have hosted Thanksgiving Day sales, not just Black Friday sales, for the past few years. Some consumers have spoken out against this sales strategy, arguing that opening on Thanksgiving takes away precious holiday family time for employees and shoppers.
This year, some major retailers have openly stated they will stay closed on Thanksgiving Thursday, in direct contrast to their major competitors. One chain, REI, has even declared that its stores will stay closed on Black Friday as well. REI is encouraging people to spend time outdoors on the day after Thanksgiving, instead of shopping.
As of right now, it’s impossible to say whether the decision not to open on the busiest shopping day of the year will help or hurt REI’s profits. But this marketing strategy does appeal directly to REI’s target consumers—outdoor enthusiasts. Many in that group have spoken out in favor of REI on social media. Like the customer in Miracle on 34th Street, they’re declaring their loyalty to a brand because of a marketing strategy that serves customers—not just the bottom line.
Using Customer-First Content Marketing on Your Small Business Website
Of course, most businesses don’t have the option to close on Black Friday or the opportunity to affect shopper behavior as much as REI could. Small business owners often work longer hours for smaller profits—they put in effort to earn the trust of every customer. But small businesses can echo the selfless holiday spirit throughout the year by posting helpful content marketing.
How-to and DIY blog posts are selfless because they show your customers you care about solving their problems, not just about making money. It’s the equivalent of saying, “I’m Kris Kringle, and I know the simplest way to solve your problem. I offer you that solution out of the goodness of my heart.” I know that sounds cheesy, but that’s the kind of caring customer service many consumers still want.
Not convinced yet? Then consider these not-so-selfless effects you can expect if you add how-to and DIY posts to your blog:
- Carefully written how-to posts show your customers that you are an expert in your industry. And when potential customers read them, they get a sense of your industry knowledge. If the content is memorable, they’re likely to remember your business when they need your products or services.
- Copyblogger founder Brian Clark says that unique and valuable how-to posts are among the most popular content online. When you create and post content of that style, other sites may link to your content and boost your site’s authority even more, helping you attract new customers.
- Onsite blog posts of all types, not just how-tos and DIYs, improve your website’s keyword rankings. Andrew Eagar, Boostability’s Director of SEO Strategy, actually measured this effect. So if you open your blog up to how-to posts, you’ll have dozens of fresh topics to cover.
If you’ve been avoiding how-to posts and DIY articles for your small business blog, change your tactics. Those post types could offer your blog—and your website—the search ranking boost you need to increase business and connect with new customers.