As the CEO of the North Pole, what have you done to create a marketing mentality?


Our primary responsibility is bringing joy to children throughout the world by fulfilling their Christmas dreams. This means we must market year-round to remind children they need to be good so we can keep them on the Nice List and not have to ever move them to the Naughty List. We also have to remind the older children of the need to continue to believe in Santa and the North Pole so their Christmas dreams come true too!


How do you get Mrs. Claus, your head elves, and reindeer on board for your marketing initiatives?


It was quite easy. We LOVE to make toys and we love to make dreams come true! As soon as I rolled out our marketing plan that was developed earlier in the year, everyone jumped on board because it meant bringing more joy to children.


How do you coordinate with your distribution channels to ensure everything gets out on time?


It’s been difficult this year with the supply chain issues we’re all facing. It’s harder for parents to get their toys from Amazon, so they are depending more on us. Fortunately we are completely electronic here in the North Pole, and we have all the children in a database. We’ve captured it all—from the day they are born and their desired toys to all the parts needed for those toys and the resources we have to coordinate with to get the parts. The elves are very sophisticated with our digital means so I can see a flowchart any time I log into our database to check the status of any toy part or assembly. We’ve come a long way in the last 20 years!


How do you show ROI of the marketing program to your workshop toymakers?


That’s a hard one for us because we really aren’t concerned about return on investment other than the joy we can see on children’s faces when they open their gifts. We are now developing a joy-o-meter that will start to clock the sound of “yippee”s and other expressions of excitement to be a little more exact on tracking our ROI.


How do you get non-marketing elves involved in/excited about supporting marketing efforts? 


There are elves who have duties not directly related to the toys, like in Culinary (there’s lots of hot cocoa to make in the kitchen and food to prepare), Laundry, Letter Writing (I get so many letters, the elves help me write return letters), Modeling, Design, Production, Delivery, etc. My role as the leader is to make sure we all have a role in bringing joy to children. When we had our strategic planning session earlier in the year, I included one elf from every department so they could participate in planning our toys and deliveries.


What is the best way you have found to get your toymakers and delivery elves—your technical staff, so to speak—involved?


It starts in our strategic planning session. They get so excited about planning new toys and talking about toy developments going on in the world. We also hold toy debriefing sessions throughout the year where we discuss toy design and lessons learned from last year’s model or what could be improved upon in this year’s model. We also always set aside time to brainstorm new toy ideas and where we think the toy market is going, so we can stay out in front of it for the children who are on the cutting edge of toy requests.


What marketing-related training do you provide at the North Pole?


We participate in a lot of webinars that are offered around the world. People don’t know we are online with them, which we giggle at because we are so good at disguises, but we learn about how to differentiate ourselves from the competition, be more strategic, and gain the loyalty of children everywhere so they want their children to know about Santa, the elves and reindeer, and the North Pole.


How do your different teams interact and work together? Elves, reindeer, etc.

Like other large companies, we are challenged with making sure our departments work together cohesively and are all “in-the-know.” To accomplish that, each department holds its own weekly coordination meeting and then once a month we hold an inter-departmental meeting where representatives from design, production, culinary, marketing, packaging, delivery, etc. meet to discuss their needs and how they can work together better.


What are the biggest hurdles your team at the North Pole faces related to marketing?


The main hurdle is that our target market seems to outgrow us! They think as they get older, they don’t need or want us anymore or it’s silly to believe we’re still up here. We’re now discussing a social media campaign targeted from 3-year-olds to 18-year-olds so we can hold onto them longer. We’re also considering a “Believe to Receive” campaign.


What are ways your Christmas marketing could improve or reach the next level?


We would love to extend Christmas Eve and Day so we could bring more joy to children. But since we can’t, we’ve started holding joint marketing meetings twice a year with the Tooth Fairy, Glenda the Good Witch, and the Easter Bunny to discuss how we can work together throughout the year to bring more joy to children and keep them believing!

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