Copy Talk: How to Make Your Holiday Copy Read Like Buttah

Jill Shaw

Updated: Jun 13, 2019 · 4 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

present under a tree

The joy of the holiday season is upon us, but the task of creating holiday greetings to customers is one that can be fraught with stress. Whether it’s a greeting card to remind customers that you are thinking about them or a themed newsletter to let them know about your awesome holiday specials, you’re spending a lot of time creating copy to send out your season’s greetings.  

Along with the cheer come the holiday concerns: “Do my customers celebrate the same holidays I do?” or “Do I extend holiday wishes to my customer specifically or put a family spin on it?” or better yet, “Will customers be offended if I say ‘Merry Christmas’?” And so begins the downward spiral that leaves you stuck between being politically correct and creating personally infused holiday messaging.  Not to worry, creating copy for this marvelous time of year can still be joyful and triumphant!

But first…Remember you’re a small business

It is a common misconception that every brand is treated equal. Thankfully for you, you’re a small business, not a big-time international brand (yes, this is a good thing), which means that you’re not subject to the same magnified scrutiny that big brands are. Of course that doesn’t mean you should skip decorum, but your words won’t be parsed quite so closely.

Big brands experience criticism on an entirely different level. Do you remember the Lowes Home Improvement ‘Holiday Tree’ debacle of 2005? Though that case is the perfect example of how important copy can be, small business customers will not be likely to boycott in anarchy if your copy rubs them the wrong way. Small businesses have the advantage of having more personal and local relationships with customers, which gives you a holiday upper hand allowing for flexibility with your messaging. * Insert big sigh of relief * 

Now, lets get down to what YOU, the small business owner, need to focus on when creating copy.

Helpful holiday copy rules

1.    Know your audience

Being aware of your target audience is crucial when creating copy. If you can identify whom you are communicating with, you can tailor your copy appropriately and more quickly. Look at audience gender, age and demographic and identify if you have a broad or niche market. For instance, if you are a US-based company with a large Australian customer base you may not want to slip in the classic holiday phrase “baby it’s cold outside” in your winter holiday messaging since it’s summer in Australia. 

Also, don’t target your audience so hard that you assume too much. It’s generally accepted to write, “Wishing you and your family a happy … “ but don’t assume that that means that your audience of 30- to 45-year-old women are all mothers (unless you know for an absolute fact that they all are). Chances are many will be mothers, but if you say “Happy Holidays, Mom!” chances are you’ll end up with irate recipients, the exact opposite feeling you want your communications to cause.

2.    Don’t try too hard

While it’s a great touch to send a personalized message to your customers during the holidays, it’s important not to try too hard. Don’t try to send out separate messaging to every single type of customer you have – that would take you forever. If you have a broad audience and/or have a lot of practice at segmenting and writing different targeted holiday messages, try to limit your different email lists to two or three, max. 

If you go for only one email list (which is perfectly acceptable), don’t try to create copy that includes every December holiday known to man – it sounds like word vomit. Though some may think it’s a nice touch that you’ve somehow managed to tie in a Christmas wreath, a Kinara and a dreidel in one piece of content, most will think you’re trying too hard and your attempt to personalize will backfire.

3.    When in doubt, play it safe

If all of this copy talk sounds daunting and you still can’t figure out how to address your customers, don’t be afraid to play it safe. Using a simple term like “Happy Holidays” may sound generic to you, but the fact that you are going out of your way to send holiday communications to your customers may be all they need to feel the personalized touch from your small business. 

You can also use a bit of humor, if you feel it appropriate to your brand voice, to play it overly safe with a “Happy December” or “Happy Winter Solstice.” Just make sure that the copy that accompanies a tongue-in-cheek bland greeting like that is appropriately self-aware and amusing. 

The holidays are filled with plenty of stress, so don’t make creating holiday copy one of them. You need to spend time with your loved ones, too, so just take a few hours to speak from the heart, keep it simple and make your customers feel special.

Cheers and happy holidays!

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