This blog post was originally published on Dec. 22, 2015 and updated on Dec. 26, 2016.
Every holiday season, B2B marketers send their best customers a standard holiday card with either a bottle of wine or a basket of chocolates.
And somehow—through this incredibly generic gesture—we expect our customers to feel like they’re special and valued. In reality, all we’re really saying is, “I don’t care about you as a person.”
(Unless, of course, your customers are wannabe sommeliers or raving chocolate fanatics. Then you’ve done a good job.)
This is why I’m a huge fan of Taylor Swift’s holiday appreciation event known as “Swiftmas.”
By stalking (also known as “#TayLurking”) some of her biggest fans via social media, Taylor uncovers their holiday wish lists. Then, she personally buys and wraps gifts she knows they will love, and sends them to her fans with a handwritten note. And just so her fans know it’s really her hands that have touched the presents, she records a video of herself throughout the entire process—complete with footage of her adorable cats, Meredith and Olivia, sleeping on and playing with the gifts and wrapping paper.
After receiving their gifts, many fans created and shared videos of themselves reading her cards and opening the gifts, which took Swiftmas to a whole new level and helped to spread Taylor’s brand around the world. Taylor incorporated those clips into her Swiftmas video as well.
I’m personally not a huge fan of her music, but the way Taylor treats her biggest fans is genius. These “Swifties” (as they’re affectionately dubbed) will remain loyal advocates for her long after it’s no longer trendy to like her music because they feel a deep connection with her as a person. Even if you’re not a T.S. fan, you can’t help but feel a little tug on your heartstrings when you watch how genuinely excited her fans are to receive these small tokens of appreciation.
The item that is most precious to Taylor’s fans? Handwritten holiday cards with invitations to continue engaging with her on social media.
Why this matters for B2B marketers
You are not Taylor Swift and your customers are probably not a whole lot like her Swifties. But that doesn’t mean she can’t inspire your approach to marketing and customer engagement. Taking the Swiftmas approach and delighting your top customers is the best way to humanize your brand and create a unique customer experience. It will also inspire customer reciprocity—if you do something nice for them, they’ll feel psychologically inclined to return the favor.
Luckily, you don’t need a huge budget or a private investigator to emulate Taylor’s strategy. Here’s how you can get started:
1. Fill in the ‘Blank Spaces’
Create private Twitter lists or look up your customers’ Instagram profiles to find out what products they want, or the things they support (e.g., charities, sports teams, etc.).
At Influitive, for example, we collect information about our best customers’ birthdays, personal interests and even their favorite coffee orders through our advocate marketing program using fun challenges and surveys. Find touchpoints where you can collect this information, or start a thread in your customer community to gather intel.
In addition, talk to your customer service team (or anyone who has frequent contact with customers) to find out what your rockstar customers are into. They may have more insights than anyone else at your company.
Keep this all in a centralized repository so you can access it any time a holiday, birthday or special occasion rolls around.
2. Fulfill their ‘Wildest Dreams’
Start by sending small tokens of appreciation to people that are highly engaged. Branded swag is an easy one, but delivering one of their favorite things (e.g., coffee order, headphones, gift cards to stores they love, etc.) will have them feeling loved.
However, not all gifts need to be physical things. A social media shout out, heartfelt email or handwritten thank you card will also mean a lot.
Next, think about how you can give your customers a VIP experience they won’t forget. Delight them at your next event or meeting, or find ways to help them improve their careers. If you go beyond “stuff” and give them an experience, they won’t soon forget it.
3. Make your ‘Love Story’ go both ways
Since your customers are probably not 14-year-old girls who post everything online the moment it happens, follow Taylor’s lead and include a personal note with your gift that provides a hashtag they can use to share their experience on social media. (It’s the perfect subtle nudge!)
For example, social media management platform Hootsuite uses the hashtag #HootAmb when sending Hootsuite Ambassador Kits to their advocates.
— Mahmut Sinan Pala (@MSinanPala) June 25, 2015