Guest post by Megan Totka.
`Tis the season, right? I’ve noticed a recent trend when shopping during the Christmas season. People are very un-jolly. After asking around a bit, I realized this unhappiness was actually bottled up confusion. Are workers allowed to wish their customers a “Merry Christmas?” What if that customer is Jewish or a Jehovah’s Witness? Is it offensive? Maybe you should just wish them “Happy Holidays” instead. That covers everything. But Witnesses don’t celebrate any winter holidays. So that could even be construed as offensive. Your best bet is to just say nothing. No, that won’t be offensive at all.
Depending on the industry your business is in, Christmas and the holiday season in general is a hugely important time of the year. For me, the more festive a shop is, the more likely I am to make my purchases there. When I’m buying food for my holiday feasts, or stocking stuffers and gifts for my loved ones, I have Christmas music playing loudly in my car and my energy level is high. I’m on a mission and I have the Christmas spirit in me. The last thing I need is someone afraid to wish me a “Merry Christmas” for fear that I’ll get offended. Is that what the country has come to?
For b2c businesses, Christmastime usually means a huge increase in revenue. Sales are typically much higher. Promoting holiday joy through marketing may just seem like a marketing ploy to some, but, in my opinion, it’s pretty important and a rather easy way to help shoppers feel more generous towards their loved ones by spending more money with your business. It’s a win-win for you and them.
There seems to be a trend to keep the holidays politically correct. There was even a rumor that President Obama had begun referring to the White House Christmas tree as a holiday tree. Is the tree representative of any other religious traditions? Is there a Hanukkah tree that I’m not aware of? Calling the tree a holiday tree does nothing. Your customers are still going to get the indication that you are displaying a Christmas tree whether you say “Christmas” or not. If you are going for a more generic winter wonderland, skip the tree. Decorate with snowmen or gingerbread men. Or be multi-religious by having both Santa and Christmas decorations and a menorah and dreidel to represent more cultures.
Obviously, not all businesses are retail based. This doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by this time of the year though. Just remember that employee morale at this time of the year will also be affected by how you treat the holiday season.
No matter what your choice for holiday decorations (or avoiding them all together), be true to your beliefs. If Christmas is a religious holiday for you, feel free to display a manger. If you are Jewish, don’t be afraid to display that or share that with your customers. This time of the year is all about being genuine. If you stay true to whom you are and what your business is, that will come across to your customers and leave you and your business happy, healthy and thriving this holiday season.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on writing business advice pieces for a variety of sites. ChamberofCommerce.com is the most trusted online resource for all your business needs.