Does Santa need to tweak his marketing leaks?

Does Santa need to tweak his marketing leaks?

Bryony ThomasLet’s look at Santa’s marketing leaks. What? I hear you ask… surely, someone as well-known as Santa has their marketing watertight? Well, you’d be surprised. When he asked Accredited Consultant, Ros Conkie, to undertake a quick assessment we were surprised by how many tweaks he could make to his marketing leaks. ~ Bryony Thomas

Santa? Leaking profit? Surely not.

Here at Watertight Marketing, we love the challenge of helping organisations apply our powerful methodology to improve their marketing. So, when Santa approached us for advice on how he could increase uptake of his services we couldn’t resist helping him out, and undertook a Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks™ assessment on the market for Christmas Spirit by his request.

Background of Santa’s marketing

Product: Christmas Spirit.

Target audience: Most people in Santa’s target market are aware of him, meaning that his target audience for new business (children) are already pretty on the ball as far as knowing who he is. They’d recognise his brand anywhere.

How to find out if your marketing is leaking

For those not familiar with the Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks assessment, it’s our unique way of assessing where customers engage and interact with a business or brand from a marketing perspective. It identifies, in priority order, what can be done about any problem areas that may be leaking customers and therefore profit. Each leak gets assigned a traffic light colour. Green means there is little or no issue, Amber means there is some work to be done, and Red needs attention immediately.

Santa Touchpoint Leaks

Santa’s Green Leaks

Santa has a good number of potential leaks on green:

Leak #2, Poor on-boarding – do they get what they expect?

The Welcome Window is clear. There’s a routine to Christmas Eve, and everyone knows their roles. There are even opportunities to prepare for the moment with letters to and from the big man. The joy that a child feels when they wake to find that that Santa has visited is sheer marketing perfection. However, he needs to be sure to manage expectations regarding quantity and value of gifts beforehand to avoid post-unwrap dissonance.

Leak #4, No gateway – is there a tiered path to payment?

Santa is available for face-to-face meetings up and down the country for young children to meet him and get to know him. However barriers often include long wait times and we suggest Santa addresses this with partners.

Leak #6, No proof – what do people say about him, and where’s the evidence?

Santa has a vast range of testimonials and case studies on TV, on film and in books along with high profile endorsements, all providing credence to Santa’s offering. More importantly, key people of influence like friends and family are strong advocates.

The awareness leaks #8, #9, #10, and #11: How, Where, When and Who

Is Santa showing up in the right place, at the right time, in the right format and is he talked about by the right people?

Santa’s content is readily available in all media formats both on and off-line. His content is everywhere at key points of the year and he is talked about by everyone, being widely recognised as the premier provider of Christmas Spirit. He’s definitely identified those critical approvers – the parents – and tends to do well in getting them on board with his message.

Santa’s Amber Leaks

Santa scored amber on two leaks: Leak #3, No Emotional Connection, and Leak #12, What. This was because of the varying quality of branding among franchisees (such as garden centres and shopping malls). Clarity in these areas, and a requirement for partners to adhere to brand and tone of voice guidelines would help customers in their buying decision. We’d recommend some clear guidelines and how-to videos to ensure all helpers are consistent.  On ‘what’ – there’s the whole naming issue, and vast inconsistencies in how the product is delivered from one household to the next (For example, presents left at the foot of the bed or by the fireplace, and in some households he delivers all the gifts under the tree.)

Santa’s Red Leaks – where he might be leaking goodwill

Unfortunately Santa’s marketing had four leaks which were as red as his suit. We recommend these should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Leak #1: Forgotten customers – does he stay in touch?

Unfortunately, Santa has many, many lapsed subscribers. How can Santa reignite that Christmas spirit among grown-ups who no longer believe? Is there room for an alternative proposition to adults and older siblings, or an opportunity for random acts of kindness?

Leak #5: No critical approval – who can say no?

There are two critical approvers in this picture, parents and older siblings. He seems to have most parents on board. However, Santa needs to beware the power of veto from older siblings, who often tell younger ones that he is not real. As a solution, we suggest providing research-based content that persuades sceptics of Santa’s authenticity as the world-wide premier supplier of Christmas spirit.

Leak #7: Information overload – is it worth 5 minutes?

Christmas cards and small decorations provide a nice way for patrons to find out more. However many do not clearly explain the benefits of Santa’s offering. Also, very few provide a call to action to encourage people to take the next step in buying off him. The letter he sends via the NSPCC is a nice touch.

Leak #13: No emotional impact – does he trigger an emotional response?

Our research among people who have never encountered Santa before (at “pre-awareness” in the buying process) indicates that messaging is lacking. The real benefits of Christmas Spirit are not effectively being communicated. There needs to be a refocusing on the true spirit of giving and of gratitude… rather than simply getting more toys. This message seems a little blurred.

There are also cases of children being fearful. We need to turn this messaging around and promote Santa as the bringer of Christmas Spirit first and foremost. The detail regarding delivery of presents is a message that must be raised later in the buying decision.

A second issue is that many prospects at pre-awareness are non-verbal and are therefore often reluctant to sit on Santa’s lap. More research is required as to how to get his message across without relying on verbal communication methods.


One final point of note: Santa will never know whether his marketing has been successful without putting effective measurements in place. We recommend recording key performance indicators (KPIs) for each step of the buying process. For example:

  • At Awareness: number of small children met in grottos
  • At Interest: number of Christmas cards bought/posted
  • At Evaluation: number of new film/book case study stories produced
  • At Trial: number of children’s letters received
  • At Adoption: number of Christmas Eve deliveries
  • At Loyalty: number of acts of Christmas kindness


We recommend that Santa begins a marketing transformation programme, starting with a full Watertight Marketing Audit and Action Plan. Through this process, we will create and execute a robust marketing action plan that will deliver sustainable results for the long-term.

Other seasonal posts on the blog:

© Watertight Marketing Ltd

Ros Conkie - Marketing ConsultantBy Ros Conkie – Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant. Ros is a strategic marketing consultant with an engineering background. She particularly enjoys working with B2B businesses in technical or software industries. She is based in Portishead and supports clients across the South West. See Ros’ full profile

Questions: Drop Ros a line on Twitter @rosconkie


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