I’ve already started my holiday shopping – OK, just two gifts in hand so far, but it’s a start!

In browsing the offerings online and in markets, shops and catalogs, I realize I’m fussier about my choices than I was two or three years ago. And it’s not just a matter of recessionary budget concerns – thrift is not new to me! Rather, I’m making choices based on my changing values.

Some stem from personal issues. As I grow older, I view so many more material things as clutter. I want to get rid of the junk in my life and focus on important things.

Others stem from global concerns that have become personal: our reliance on fossil fuels (yes, I own a Prius), growing environmental concerns, and whether goods were manufactured here or abroad, to name just a few.

It dawned on me, being one who tends to think in terms of marketing, I’m surely not the only person who has experienced similar priority changes in recent years. For one, I’m a baby boomer – part of the 26 percent (U.S. population, not income!). I’m also one of many Americans who pays attention to what’s happening around the world and believes we as individuals can help solve some of the problems.

If you’re a business that hopes to cash in on holiday shopping, you can set yourself apart with a message that appeals to your audience’s changing values. And now’s the time to start – because we’ve already started shopping!

Here are some tips for developing a new marketing approach that’s in sync with the times:

Identify what makes your product appeal to customers’ values. If your homemade soaps are produced right here in the U.S.A., say so! In a recent poll, 90 percent of us rated “keeping jobs in America” as the No. 1 step the government can take to help us economically. Many shoppers have friends or family members who are unemployed or underemployed; joblessness has touched just about everyone. That makes for a greater appreciation of businesses that create jobs here at home. Your “Made in America” label is valuable! Does your packaging use recycled materials – or is it recyclable? There are now 69 percent of us recycling, according to a National Geographic poll. Does your manufacturing process use a renewable energy source? More than half of us think it’s more important to develop alternative sources of energy than to find more oil. You’ve got bragging rights – use them!

Become an expert. You can gain valuable media exposure for your company or product by positioning yourself (or your spokesman) as an industry expert with useful information to share. For instance, if you’re highlighting the fact that your product is made in America and helps put Americans to work, become an expert source for people seeking jobs. You can tell them what skills employers value. Or what the biggest mistakes applicants make during interviews. You have the expertise simply based on your experience.

Which channels will be best for getting your message out? Where does your audience get its news and entertainment? Are they using social media? Reading the newspaper? Listening to radio or watching TV? Or a mix of all four? On social media, you can share your expertise by offering useful information and links to resources, and engaging in conversations. Print is a great medium for providing consumer tips, as is TV, which is also perfect if your message has a visual component. Talk radio offers a format for a live conversation during which you can provide solutions to listeners’ problems.

On social media, you can build a following of fans who help spread your message, while traditional media offer credibility from the implied endorsement of journalists and talk show hosts.

Choose a messenger who’s accessible. If you’re the CEO and the person best qualified to be interviewed by journalists and show hosts, you may be the perfect spokesperson. But if you’re so busy you can’t drop what you’re doing to respond to interview requests, you will lose valuable media opportunities. Your messenger should be a person who is well-versed on the chosen area of expertise – and available at the drop of a hat.

Now is a good time to think about your company or product in a new light. If you look at it from the shoppers’ perspective, you may just see something that appeals to consumers’ changing values. Turn that into a message that resonates with potential customers and you may just have your best holiday ever.

Off to the store!
Marsha

Read more about Your Marketing Message Changed with the Times at Bay Integrated Marketing
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