In a few short hours, a large bearded man, clad in red from head to toe, will fly from country to country, escorted by flying caribou, to deliver gifts to those deemed to have met certain, subjective standards of behavior.
It doesn’t seem like the best business model. After all, there are 364 days in the year where Santa Claus is just sitting at home up in the North Pole, biding his time until next year. Imagine if he had shareholders. “Where’s the revenue coming from, Santa? Why aren’t you monetizing your strong brand recognition and public image? How is this sustainable?!”
Yet, Santa Ltd. has stayed in business – and thrived – for centuries. How does he do it? And what can your business learn from Kris Kringle? Here are five takeaways from Santa’s operations that can strengthen your business
Know Your Audience
If you don’t know what people want, you’re not going to be in business selling to them for very long. Business is about satisfying need, and Santa has that down cold. Every year, millions of kids write out lists of exactly what they want. While you’re not likely to get that lucky, spending the money you need to understand what your customers want can ensure that your business is still around next holiday season.
Understand Your Workforce
You have workers with different strengths and specialties. So stop trying to fit square pegs into round holes. You don’t see Santa putting Blitzen or Comet in the workshop with the elves making toys, and I think we all remember what happened the last time Santa eschewed Rudolph’s red nose – he almost didn’t make it through that year’s snowstorm!
Play to your workers’ strengths, and always be sure to keep in mind what their wants and desires are. If you have an elf that wants to be a dentist, well, letting him pursue his dream just might save your business a ton of cash on dental insurance costs down the road.
Have the Right Tools in Place to Succeed
Santa’s business is a logistical nightmare. Do you happen to know how many children there are in the world? And it’s not like this number is going down. Santa has billions of places to go, and he needs to do it all in one night. Without his state-of-the-art workshop that can produce iPads and Beats by Dre headphones as easily as it produced rocking horses a century ago, Santa’s supply chain would be in shambles. Not to mention the problems with distribution.
Santa can do this because he has the workshop, the sleigh, and the workers that can get all of these gifts to all of the good little boys and girls in one night. Your business might not need to do something on that scope, but having the right tools in place can mean the difference between a successful campaign and a missed opportunity.
Maintain a connection with your customers
Santa has some of the best PR in the business. Licensing deals with some of the world’s largest soft drink manufacturers. His likeness being used by charities the world over. Not to mention his appearance schedule at malls and Thanksgiving parades all around the world. Santa knows where his customer base is, and he makes certain that Santa Ltd. is never too far out of mind when the holidays come around.
Today’s always-on culture means that you can be yesterday’s news faster than ever before. Know where your audience is, and make sure that you’re working in that space, else you end up being left behind.
Balance your work and life
Stopping at billions of homes in a single night is an exhausting endeavor, and could very easily lead to burnout. No wonder Santa takes such a long vacation after he’s finished.
If you’re working yourself to the bone, keep Santa’s example in mind. Stop and relax. Preferably with a nice tall glass of milk and warm plate of cookies.
From all of us here at WorkIntelligent.ly, we hope that you and yours have a safe, prosperous and joyous holiday season.
And be sure to check out “How Information Mobility Saved the Holidays”, our version of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” — though you probably know it better by another name.