Creative Christmas

How Christmas can boost your business in the year ahead

It’s Christmas eve! Let’s celebrate the holidays by taking a look at what this festival means for people, and what we can learn from Christmas to boost our business in 2016.

Christmas is the festival of love

If you ask people what human emotion and feeling they associate with Christmas, most say “love”. People spend time celebrating the Christmas holidays with their loved ones, or to be more precise, with the vital few people they love most, or to be even more precise: with their partner, their children, their parents. In short: people spend time the holidays with their family, the nucleus of human’s social life. What can you learn from the love people share at Christmas to spread love with your business?

Business questions: Who are the vital few customers who really love you? Who are the vital few customers that really deserve your love due to the amount of business they give you? Who are the vital few members of your team that form the nucleus of your business? Who are the vital few shareholders who fund your business? How can you show your love, gratitude and appreciation to all those vital few stakeholders of your business?

Christmas is the festival of giving.

At Christmas, most people show the love and appreciation they have for their loved ones by giving them Christmas presents. While a gift is the act of giving someone a present without expecting anything in return, presents should match the wishes and expectations of the recipient to avoid disappointments. What matters here is not only the amount of money that you spend on gifts, but also how many wrapped presents you give.

Interestingly, behavioral scientists have found most humans value a series of small gains more than a single gain of the same amount. Consider this finding of Prospect Theory when you purchase presents for your loved ones to increase their appreciation of your gifts.

Business questions: How can you increase the appreciation of value in the eyes of your customers by breaking value offerings into several components? How can you present your value offerings in a series of small gains for your customers?

Christmas is the festival of shopping.

Talking about buying presents: In the last decades, Christmas has turned from a religious celebration into a global pop festival and shopping-frenzy. Around the world, malls bedecked with giant Christmas trees start playing Christmas songs throughout the final weeks of the year to make consumers spend money on gifts for their love ones and themselves. And guess what? It works.

This year, I largely avoided the malls by ordering most of gifts online. I was done shopping in half an hour, with all gifts being conveniently delivered to my home in Germany, where I will spend the holidays. So what? While it won’t drive retail malls and shops out of business, online business will continue to rise because it is more effortless and frictionless and saves busy people time. What does this mean for your business?

Business questions: To what extent do you sell your products online? How can you make it more frictionless, effortless, time-effective and convenient for your customers to buy from you?

Christmas is the festival of a new creative beginning.

At Christmas, people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who was born in a stable because his parents, Joseph and Mary, could not get a room at the inn. This humble beginning was the start of a courageous life full of creative drive and revolutionary ideas. That life inspired a flexible new religion that conquered vast parts of the world and led to the rise of powerful, rigid religious institutions that substantiate their claims of power on their interpretations of these once revolutionary ideas.

Likewise, each successful corporation once started with the ideas of one person — an entrepreneur who had the guts to act on these ideas, founded a flexible new venture that succeeded against the odds and slowly grew into a large, powerful and rigid corporation. This Christmas, remember how humbly it all started — and remember that everything starts with a bold act of creation.

Business questions: How can you promote acts of creation in your business? Who are the courageous, creative people with radical ideas in your business? How can you support them so that they may take your business to new heights?

Christmas is the festival of traditions and rituals.

Successful societies strike a harmonious balance between the extreme poles of creative destruction and change on the one hand and preservation of traditions and the status quo on the other hand. While Christmas clearly began on the creative side, it owes its popularity to the many traditions, rituals and symbols that people cherish.

What would Christmas be without carols and cookies? Santa Claus and his reindeer-sleigh? Without gifts under the Christmas trees and kisses under the mistletoe?

Societies and families follow the same Christmas rituals each year — when to decorate the tree, go to church and give out the presents; what Christmas meal is served on which day; and, with a twinkling eye, when the annual Christmas skirmishes between  family members break out.

Business questions: What symbols, rituals and traditions are important for your business? How can you strengthen these symbols and rituals to boost group cohesiveness within your corporate family? How can you use symbols and rituals to deepen the loyalty and sense of belonging of your customers?

Enjoy the festival season wherever you are. In a quiet moment, recall those questions that resonated with you, and ponder for answers. Merry Creative Christmas and a Happy New Year 2016 to all of you!

© Dr. Detlef Reis 2015. This article is published in parallel in the Bangkok Post under the same title on 24 December 2015.