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12 hidden marketing lessons in ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’

12 hidden marketing lessons in ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’

For one of the most popular Christmas songs, ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ is relatively modern. While the lyrics date back to 18th century France, the familiar tune wasn’t composed until 1909.

Since then, it’s become a Christmas staple, particularly among carol singers. Although, whether any group of singers has managed to remain on a freezing-cold doorstep long enough to complete all 12 verses is questionable!

What you might not know is that the lyrics actually contain a series of hidden marketing messages.

When they are first told this, marketing folk are usually sworn to secrecy. But given it’s the season of goodwill, I’m prepared to break the omerta.

So, here are the 12 hidden marketing lessons in ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’.

A partridge in a pear tree

As a first gift from a true love, a partridge in a pear tree is both impressive and evocative.

Even though the gift is given in the middle of winter, it conjures images of idyllic summer days in the English countryside.

The true love clearly understood a key fact about marketing your business and services – first impressions are always important. The same instincts that make us dress smartly for a first meeting should also drive all client communications.

That’s the first line of a letter or email, the look of the home page on your website, and the imagery in a brochure. All create first impressions, and they are all-important in encouraging potential clients to want to find out more.

Two turtle doves

Turtle doves are one of the few breeds of birds that mate for life. Unlike other birds who will often choose a different partner for each mating season, pairs of turtle doves stick together – to the extent that, when one bird dies, the surviving partner will often remain single.

In the spirit of turtle doves, it should be standard practice these days to reference both people in a partnership in all communication. Remember the person looking at your website or reading one of your newsletters may not be the main breadwinner or be the one who manages the household finances.

Three French hens

When you think of hens, regardless of nationality, you think of eggs.

So, the simple message here is not to put all your marketing eggs in one basket. An effective marketing plan will include a mix of elements, promoting different parts of your business proposition to different prospects and clients. That will include various contact strategies involving different methods of communication.

Focusing on just one is likely to be unproductive.

Four calling birds

There’s no specific bird known as a “calling bird.” The description refers to any type of bird that makes a sound. This effectively covers all breeds although, as you probably appreciate when you hear the dawn chorus, some are noisier than others.

Calling birds, communicating with each other, gives us another simple and effective marketing message.

You may well only meet many clients face-to-face once a year for their annual review, but that shouldn’t stop you communicating with them at other times during the year.

Some of this can be general email and other contact you have with all your clients but consider bespoke messaging too.

Five golden rings

On the fifth day of Christmas, we move on from birds to one of the most precious of metals.

One of the big attractions of gold, beyond its intrinsic value, is the fact it’s eye-catching. Your eyes are automatically drawn to how shiny and clean it looks.

In the same way, you should be looking for any client communication to stand out and catch the eye.

This can be through both imagery and the written word. Clearly, eye-catching images on your website will attract attention, but a challenging first line in an article can be as equally effective and impactful.

Six geese a-laying

We’re back to the avian theme on day six. However this time, to help us, we’re given a specific activity to reference.

Eggs take time to hatch. Goose eggs can take up to 35 days. In the same way, new ideas or marketing activity can take time to reap rewards.

If you’re trying something out of the ordinary, to promote your business and services, it’s important not to be discouraged if it doesn’t immediately result in an overnight flood of new enquiries.

When it comes to marketing your business, patience is key.

Seven swans a-swimming

The archetypal swan image references calm above the surface while mayhem is being played out under the water.

Rather like the swan’s legs, the message from this verse is well-hidden but simple. Don’t frantically overreact to every setback or less than positive response to a particular piece of communication.

If you have a plan that’s been properly thought through, then stick to it. Stay calm and trust both your own instincts and the advice of marketing experts who have helped you put your plan together.

Eight maids a-milking

Anyone who’s ever tried it will tell you that milking a cow isn’t anywhere near as easy as it looks. These days it’s nearly all done by machine, but in the 19th century, milkmaids were valued for their skill.

In the same way, don’t be afraid to bring experts in to help you with marketing your services. This can include getting support with all aspects of marketing and communication – from putting your plan together to web design and copywriting.

Nine ladies dancing

Contrary to popular belief, the ladies in the ninth verse aren’t actually dancing. They’re hopping mad.

An Office for National Statistics survey shows that the number of women who are the main breadwinner in their household is just under a quarter. And it’s rising all the time.

Yet it’s remarkable the number of personal finance articles you read, and websites you visit, that still automatically default to the male as the financial head of the family. Lines like “Don’t forget to include your wife in your financial planning” really have no place in the 21st century.

10 lords a-leaping

As one of the two UK legislative chambers, the House of Lords have a direct role in formulating the laws of the land.

As anyone in financial services will be aware, the laws surrounding pensions involve complex layers of definitions and allowances that can make even the most financially astute clients glaze over.

The temptation is often to try to simplify this when you’re communicating with existing and potential clients. However, the best way is to often ignore it totally and focus on the ultimate benefit or outcome instead.

11 pipers piping

In a band of musicians, the pipers are at the front.

While the rest of the band are providing the rhythm, it’s the piper who’s playing the melody and drawing the audience in.

In the same way, it’s the headlines, sub-headings and imagery on your website that will draw interested browsers in.

12 drummers drumming

Regardless of musical genre, the drummer is the least visible member of the group, but the most important.

While John, Paul and George strutted their stuff at the front of the stage, it was Ringo who held the whole thing together. He ensured, literally and figuratively, that they didn’t miss a beat.

You can mimic the role of the drummer by providing a steady beat of topical information and news to clients – both existing and prospective.

There’s a time and a place for the flashy stuff, but what’s important is the regularity, detail, and accuracy.

Get in touch

As well as scouring old Christmas carols for hidden messages, we can also help you market your business and services. This includes website development, online content, newsletters and help with seminars and online webinars.

To find out more, email or call 0115 8965 300.

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