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The holidays are primetime for business to consumer (B2C) marketers, whether you’re trying to increase downloads, spread the word about new products or sell old inventory. The importance of the holidays for the retail industry should not be understated: In 2016, for example, holiday sales represented nearly 20 percent of total industry sales, according to the National Retail Foundation. But beneath the B2C announcements surrounding deals and new products, an important fact has emerged; business to business (B2B) companies are using the holiday spirit to generate brand awareness, too.

To better understand this marketing landscape, we conducted a study of recent holiday-related press releases, media coverage, and social media conversations on Twitter and Instagram. According to our analysis, charity initiatives, B2B services and holiday-themed surveys are all gaining a fair amount of traction this season.

So, what does this mean for marketing masterminds out there and how can these findings be used to capture consumer attention during the final few weeks of the year?

Here’s our take:

Come One, Come All – Holiday is not just for B2C marketers

Are you an enterprise tech company looking to engage more customers going into the new year or perhaps you’re stirring up interest for a financial firm with new offerings coming to market? Contrary to popular belief, launching a B2B campaign during the holidays may generate a strong return on investment. While it’s true that retail, tourism and food and beverage companies are the biggest investors in holiday marketing, around 10 percent of recent campaigns are from B2B companies. Jumping into the fray with a targeted, holiday-themed marketing plan could not only increase visibility but help meet end-of-year sales and engagement benchmarks.

Time to Give Back – Charity is a corporate priority during the holidays

Though charity is an important element of the holiday spirit, giving back can easily get lost in the shuffle of the year’s busiest retail moments. For brands looking to insert themselves into the narrative, whether B2B or B2C, our analysis reveals charity initiatives are an important part of a successful holiday strategy. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs and similar efforts not only play an important role in assisting those in need, but they act as an opportunity to humanize your brand and demonstrate its commitment to its customers and communities. By partnering with worthy organizations and even engaging with activists or influencers, you can help your brand achieve its campaign goals while making a meaningful impact.

Harness the Conversation – If you don’t have news for holiday, create some

As ubiquitous as B2C campaigns are during the holidays, our research reveals B2B brands can enjoy success by creating engaging news in the form of surveys. In fact, surveys are the most adopted media tactic used by B2B companies to generate awareness during the holiday season. Interesting, unique insights into consumer behavior, trending products or buying sentiment offer a new perspective and spark a broader dialogue. It is important, however, that surveys seek out pertinent and newsworthy data points; from tongue-in-cheek findings to analysis of public motivation, surveys revealing the unexpected will generate more buzz.

BONUS: When amplifying deals, social media is the gift that keeps giving

Regardless of whether you are a B2C or B2B brand, the uses of social media are vast. One benefit in particular, though, may have just the impact you are looking for: Creating awareness around holiday deals. With nearly 4 million posts focused on holiday and gift shopping, you must not let the constant flow of social media activity pass your brand by. Implementing trending hashtags and posting regularly not only keeps your company top of mind but proactively inserts your deals and news into related consumer conversations.

Though we may be late in the holiday season, there is still time to craft a successful brand narrative before the end of the year. To do so, it is important to understand the landscape and take a strategic approach to enhancing awareness; with the insights gleaned from our research, you may just find you can generate more brand visibility than anticipated. For a detailed breakdown of our holiday marketing activity analysis developed by Amelia Wang, Airfoil's in-house research and strategic planning manager, view her slideshow below and then connect with us

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