The holidays are a great time for friends, family, celebration–and b2b marketing.

According to Katie Hollar, marketing manager at online software database service Capterra Inc., lots of marketers back off on their marketing efforts in December, even though it’s a perfect time to run a holiday-themed campaign.

“When we talk to companies around the year-end and give advice about getting leads, we notice that a lot of companies lower their budgets in December,” Hollar said. “But we always encourage companies to advertise in December. It’s great because you can get increased visibility compared to your competitors, who might not be advertising as much.”

Capterra is in a good position to observe holiday marketing trends. Not only does the company run its own b2b marketing campaigns, hoping to attract both software vendors and companies looking for software into its database, it also helps advise client companies on their own marketing efforts.

“Software tends to be a long buying cycle,” she said. “So it makes sense to run ads in Q4 because Q1 is such a strong buying time.”

The idea behind effective holiday advertising is to keep it light and nonpushy. The end of the year is a good time, Hollar said, for thanking clients, sending out messages of appreciation, light-hearted and funny content, and raising visibility without a hard sales push.

“People are thinking of other things,” she said. “Sometimes a simple thank-you to existing customers is a great way to score sales in the next year. And I think this isn’t something people would mark as spam.”

Examples of this kind of advertising include the HubSpot unicorn spoofing the “Twelve Days of Christmas” and Marketo’s “Greeting Maker,” which allows people to easily make greeting cards with prompts like “I’d love to see my _______ make a scene at the holiday party.”

There is a fine line in holiday advertising, said Adam Q. Holden-Bache, CEO of Mass Transmit, an email marketing company. You want to have fun—like the holiday-themed broker/agent “sledding” game he designed for a major insurance company—without crossing the line or offending any religious sensibilities.

[Read more: Holiday b-to-b marketing]

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In the past few years, technology has transformed the way we communicate, interact and consume both products and services, affecting markets from travel to fashion. The healthcare industry is no exception, and as the average consumer expects more convenience, increased online communication and technical apps and gadgets, innovators are working to streamline and improve the customer experience through creative online means.

Here, we’ve compiled just a few of the ways that companies are integrating digital communications and online tools into healthcare to improve communication with patients and to create a more transparent, customer-friendly experience.

1. Online Communities and e-Patients

While pharmaceutical companies, startups, patient communities and providers began joining the social media world around 2010, many have now matured and broadened their scope. PatientsLikeMe, for instance, has expanded to over 1,000 conditions, CureTogether has gained the attention of major press outlets and 23andMe is defining personal genomics.

Additionally, both PatientsLikeMe and 23andMe have published results in medical journals, bringing further validation to social networks and social media as legitimate avenues for medicine.

2. Online Services Aimed at Easy Patient Experience

Many complaints about healthcare experiences involve long wait times and issues with finding the perfect fit in a doctor. Companies like ZocDoc are helping users take control of their own care by providing easy access to specialists in the area with information on insurance accepted and languages spoken. Meanwhile, innovator InQuicker seeks to put an end to excessive emergency room waits by providing the ability to “check in” online. After certifying that injuries aren’t life-threatening, patients are texted as their “appointment” approaches.

3. Mobile Apps

As smartphones have become pervasive, so have health apps that often have a social media component, whether that is the ability for a scale to post your weight to Twitter or the ability to transmit a diabetic blood sugar reading to a community. By and large, many people have taken their health quests online, and apps help monitor the body, motivate health and keep disease treatment under control. The Quantified Self movement, which is focused on this app-based monitoring, has expanded to 60 groups around the world and 400 tools.


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From folklore spun by a campfire to sitcoms played out on Sunday evening television; from Grimm’s fairytales to Harry Potter, storytelling has been part of human culture since the dawn of communication.

I like to imagine that the first tale was told over dinner, a primitive version of the nuclear family gathered around a simple meal, their silhouettes outlined by the glow of a fire. Sitting face-to-face, they gestured, signed and sounded out a story about who they were, where they’d been and where they wanted to go. And in that moment relationships would be forever changed.

Throughout history, stories have conveyed our values, hopes and dreams. They are a medium through which we can see how we are unique, and yet they highlight the similarities that bind us in our journey.

The dawn of technology, however, left many of us wondering whether the art of storytelling is threatened by an ever-increasing tendency towards the impersonal nature of a fast-paced, productivity-driven world. Is an automated response on Facebook to a customer service question just as effective as real person-to-person interaction? Is letting others know who we are destined to become a figment of times gone by?

Here at The Signature Agency, we believe that the art of storytelling is as important now as it’s ever been.

While the tools have changed, the basic desire for human contact, for empathy, and for a belonging to something larger than ourselves has not. And while we may not be able to rid the world of widespread teen-texting epidemics or Twitter marriage proposals, we’re making it our mission to use the very technology blamed for distancing us from each other to bring us back together.

We believe it’s amazing how clearly time, effort and a creative human touch can shine through when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, email or blogs. So in the age-old tradition, we’re asking you to tell us your story with the promise that we’ll pass it on over the digital age equivalent of a campfire reward with friends.

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