Today’s guest is post is written by Lisa Gerber.

Between Occupy Wall Street and Black Friday madness, I’m not sure if I should be knitting handmade items for my loved ones or donning my riot gear and bracing the furious frenzy for a $2 waffle iron.

This stuff is like a train wreck to me. I watch it through squinty eyes wondering about the average IQ of the general population.

There were, however, some glimmers of good news over the weekend. There actually are retailers who do not resort to family-separating and violence-inducing strategies for an increase in sales.

This, I like to watch. We’re all students of good marketing strategy and there is plenty to study in the highly competitive sector of holiday retail.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales can account for 25 to 40 percent of annual sales for many retailers.

It’s do or die.

For Spin Sucks Pro, and for our Arment Dietrich clients, we get a lot of our big ideas outside of the industry.

Sure, it’s important to keep an eye on the competition and to see what everyone else is doing, but the most creative ideas come from completely different sectors.

Three Great Marketing Ideas

Rue La La.

Hello, my name is Lisa Gerber, and I’ve been shopping with Rue La La for one year now. And I can’t stop. I am addicted to this daily designer deals site. I have a problem. Daily emails direct users to their website or mobile app with stunning photography  of great products at great prices.

Rue La La builds loyalty in several ways. First, you pay shipping once per month. Buy something, and get 30 days of free shipping. My email shows me how many more days of free shipping I have. It makes me eager to use that perk.

The “still want it?” feature is a way to get waitlisted for an out-of-stock item. If the item gets returned they automatically send it to you, and charge your card.

That’s not all. Their email communications are a sight to behold (or I’m just a sucker for awesome communications). UPS delivered my package and two seconds later, I got an email from Rue La La telling me the package was delivered and that half the fun is opening the box.

Rue La La takes building loyalty one step further. They’ve created an addiction. If it could be bottled, they could sell it.

How can we create an obsession for our product or service?

Small Business Saturday.

Clearly there were issues in the execution of Small Business Saturday, but let’s talk about the strategy.

American Express’ customers are small businesses. AmEx wants you to understand the importance of small business and the role it plays in the economy. So they offers shoppers a $25 credit when they shop at participating independent merchants using their AmEx card.

A site was developed to provide tools for merchants to use social media and get the word out.

The strategy is to shine the spotlight on their customer; using their vast network to drive business to them.

President Obama, the Small Business Administration, and political candidates all got in on the action with photo opps.

How can you build a strategy around a message, not your brand? How can you make it about your customers?


Patagonia tells you not to buy.

In an email on Cyber Monday, and a full-page ad in the New York Times, Patagonia advocates moderation in consumption by advising you NOT to buy the jacket pictured.

Few brands could actually pull this off without coming across as disingenuous. In fact, some still accuse them of exactly that.

Of course, they don’t actually think you won’t buy. But they are getting a lot of attention by spreading an excellent message about thinking twice before you consume.

As someone who cringes at all of the waste the holidays create, I say high five, Patagonia!

Here is the thing. It’s a bold move and can only be executed by a company that isn’t directly tracking ROI on every marketing dollar spent. It would be fairly hypocritical of them to be tracking sales from a full-page ad in New York Times with the headline Don’t Buy This Jacket.

Realistically, this isn’t a strategy that is going to work for everyone, certainly, but is there a message, or a cause, that is bigger than your brand on which you can hang your hat?

It’s a lot easier said than done, but it’s something to think about.

What great ideas have you found in the holiday retail madness?