Six Ways Retailers Can Cut Through Holiday Marketing Noise and Ad Clutter

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday kicking off the “official” holiday shopping season this week, retailers and brands scramble to get their marketing messages broadcast across a variety of channels. Their hopes, to cut through the copious amounts of #holidaymarketing noise and clutter and be noticed by consumers.

There’s a reason retailers like Kmart and Walmart begin there holiday marketing in September. These mega retailers want their messages heard, ahead of the rest of the holiday marketing noise and ad clutter that will soon overwhelm consumers. While the exact number of messages consumers are exposed to is unknown, puts it in the neighborhood of 250 to 5,000 daily messages. And that number is increasing as advertisers and marketers push out messages through every electronic orifice they can find. Unfortunately, Madison Avenues answer to the overwhelming amount of marketing messages is to add more noise and clutter through unique advertising channels.

Major retailers like Kmart, Best Buy, and have the marketing budgets to cut through the clutter and get a larger piece of the holiday spending pie. This leaves small, local, business who don’t have deep packets, scrambling to catch the crumbs. While holiday marketing, in itself, may not be enough for these local operations to cut through the large retailers clutter busting marketing budgets, there are some initiatives that can help them get a bigger piece of the holiday spending pie.

Some of the following ideas may take some time to get up to speed; others can be deployed fairly quickly, giving hope for those retailers who have been on Santa’s nice list to avoid receiving coal in their holiday profit stockings:

Six Holiday Marketing Noise and Ad Clutter Cutters

Be Authentic
Being authentic in today’s consumer driven digital market is paramount to your success. Representing yourself and your product/service in a genuine manner is good for business, and your bottom line. According to a 2014 study by Cohn & Wolfe on Authenticity, communicating honesty about a brands product or service outweighs the firm’s brand appeal, product utility, and popularity. Additionally, the study revealed that 63% of global consumers would buy from a brand they perceived as authentic.

Differentiate Yourself

Chances are that at some point you’ve heard the best way to stand out of the crowed, and avoid clutter, is to be different or differentiate yourself for other brands. This is a sure way to cut through clutter and stand out from the competition.

Take Whole Foods, the grocery store, for example. They go beyond just being a grocery store. Whole Foods is also a content generator and thought leader in the industry.

They understand their customers and share ideas and content that is not boastful. They also focus on local stores, taking away that big chain feeling, making each store feel inviting and customers welcomed.

Create Value

There’s nothing more mismatched about a brand, product, or offering that doesn’t offer it’s customers value. First, you need to know what your customers want, and offer them exactly that.

One of my marketing clients owns and operates a Chinese Restaurant; she literally mingles with guests and talks to them about the food they ordered; about what they like and dislike. She goes so far as to observe and check the trash bin for their discarded food items. From this qualitative data, my client is able to learn what her customers value and what they don’t.

Changing her menu based on her discovery helped her create new food product offerings and generate more share of wallet per customer.

Sell value first, features second. If you don’t know what your customers value, you won’t know what to feature.

Be Unpredictable

When Starbucks announced, this holiday season, it was forgoing the traditional Christmas themed cups and opting for a more, generic, red cup, it seemed to outrage some people initially. This sparked a frenzy on social media and even a lead an American evangelist and internet personality to post a video to Facebook in outrage over the red cups.

The “negative” publicity and unpredictable act brought more attention to Starbucks. There was actually a backlash against the backlash! And I don’t think the free publicity hurt the behemoth coffee retailer; they reported a 9% increase in U.S. sales and 18% gain in revenue for the 4th quarter this year. Not too shabby!

Use Remarketing Campaigns

A quick and easy way to cut through digital clutter and noise is to deploy a remarketing campaign. Remarketing is a way to get your ad in front of individuals who have visited your site, but did not make a purchase. In turn, when web surfer’s type in key words or visit other sites after visiting yours, they are presented with purpose driven display advertising about your product or service, reminding them about your business and all your offerings.

Remarketing is a good way to create meaningful digital advertising that is relevant to the potential customers needs versus irrelevant banner ads or link ads that provide no purpose at all. Plus, it’s quick and easy to deploy.

Direct Mail is not dead!

According to the CMO Council, 51% of consumers prefer receiving their marketing material from local shops via direct mail. According to a article, direct mail has the highest rate of attracting new customers; 34%.

While marketers have shifted their attention toward more digital delivery channels, like email marketing and app. based marketing, direct mail is still the more personal approach, giving consumers a tangible piece to hold in their hands and feel.

Providing value to direct mail can increase its stickiness, or desire to be kept longer by the consumer. Direct mail is also cost effective and can be quickly deployed, in time for your holiday marketing.


By no means are the above ideas an exhaustive list of “what to do’s” to cut through the holiday marketing noise. However, they serve more as a primer to get your creative juices flowing. While this holiday season is upon us and you will need to act fast to deploy most of these ideas, it’s not a bad idea to start planning for next year, now.

If you have any additional thoughts on how to cut through this holidays marketing noise, please do share them in the comment section. I would like to learn more about your ideas and thoughts.



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