Santa Claus Education & Training... WHY?

Why in the world does any Santa "need" any kind of formal training?

I've been in the Santa industry long before it was an "industry!" Back in the days of the enclosed malls and running 14 locations of Santa Photolands single handedly over a 20 year period! Whew!
We attracted so much spin off business, it was easy to transition, and bring my Santas along with me, into the world of civic, corporate & private bookings.

I understand and am devoted to the notion that Santa needs to remain traditional as part of his mystique.

I know how expensive things have become in this depressed economy!

I realize that investing in new career on a fixed retirement budget is a hardship! But it's really a worthy and rewarding investment in yourself!

My wonderful father (90 years old) thinks mortgages should still be around $200 a month and hotel rooms over $40 are a rip off! Cell phones, (forget "Smart phones"!) and Facebook are a mystery! When he was "walking to school, BOTH ways uphill, bread was 5 cents...", now designer bread is $5! No doubt TIMES HAVE CHANGED! (Hopefully our current teachers instruct us to go back home the same way so we can go downhill at the end of the day! Wink!) But all joking aside...

1.) Over the past 15 years, our "Santa Entertainment Industry" has blossomed, matured, and become much more high profile. The number of Santas at top levels with whom you are "competing" for holiday entertainment dollars, even in smaller communities, has literally exploded! 

2.) Across 95% of America, (excluding L.A. & N.Y.C.,) average families used to be satisfied with making, borrowing or buying Uncle Joe a $40 Sears Santa suit and having him show up on Christmas Eve for a visit. Elastic, black hairs and gym shoes showing. (Ewww!) The head janitor or even major of most towns would rent a suit and "play" Santa for the local parade. IF he had a real beard, that was a huge bonus! IF he didn't, it wasn't a big deal.

3.) Marketing, advertising and sophisticated audiences now demand MORE and are willing to pay more for their group and private holiday entertainment. They want the "REAL" thing and to be impressed and WOW'd for their investment! Ho Ho Hum doesn't cut it any longer! 

4.) As generations X Y & Z, start becoming parents, (eeks!) they are used to electronic, interactive, visual and thumb activated, 3-D entertainment. HOW can a candy cane & a "Ho Ho Ho" compete with that? Through quality education!

So, if Santa is to remain "traditional," why would there be anything new to learn? Red suit, jingle bells, white beard, lap visits, photos, give out the gifts.. How hard can it be?

Well Ho! Ho! Ho! Rockin' Robin, the Polar Caps are a melting! Being able to combine all the NEW information and still keep it traditional, is one task your educational mentors have in guiding you along this "ancient" yet fantastically new and complex holiday adventure!

The NEW breed of Santa understands what it takes to climb to the top and stay there! Marketing! Networking! And intensive, quality Education! There are reputable schools across the USA. Find the ones that are right for YOU and continue to grow by attending different ones each year! We are all VERY different in our format, style, content, focus and especially ideology.

It's NOT just all about the snowy beard or custom designed Adele suit, although her designs are magnificent! If THE HEART that is UNDER the beard and INSIDE that suit are not glowing with sincerity, imagination, energy and passion for the role, then the investments have been in vain.

The best way to get yourself to the top of your Santa career, and stay there is through education, implementation and being involved with QUALITY Santa community! Santa America, FB Santa's Workshop (Larry Shaw) JYSW, FB Business of Being Santa, FB ClausNet (Michael Rielly), BuckEye Santas of Ohio, and perhaps one of the    ? ? ? ORBS groups, for example! The taking of action and sharing of information. Leaving the politics out.

If YOU think your conversations with the children are unimaginative, repetitive and boring... Guess what? So do they! (Sorry!) Learn, through Santa education, to make every conversation, even 500 of them a day, different and exciting! Sounds hard but it's really easy!!! And way more fun than cattle herding the little ones!

If, you get excited about making your grand entrance to the mall, corporate party or home visit, but find yourself un-amused by your own repeat, stale  performance once you arrive on your "stage," then it's time to engage in a new thought process about your "act."  Santa Training can give you fresh ideas to make your presentations exciting again! - For your guests and yourself!

If, after an hour or two of visiting with the children, you remember you need to get your oil changed or pay the electric bill when you get home... then someone isn't engaged in BEing Santa! Santa Education will teach you tools, tricks and tips to staying in character, for however long you are "on stage."

If your holiday calendar is, or is not, as full as you want it to be, so you are covering your Santa expenses (gas, insurance, dry cleaning, beard grooming, costuming, etc.) with little padding for that world cruise vacation, flying lessons or tiara for the Mrs., then maybe your client list needs to be revamped so you perform to get the kind of referrals and tips that bring you pleasure and success on all levels? The Santa School you pick should give you the knowledge, tools and support to easily accomplish this!
Do you know the "formula" for answering ANY impossible question? Come find out at school!

What should you have in your Santa toy bag / repertoire for those special moments? Awkward moments? Scary moments? Unexpected moments in front of a crowd? And how can you pull it off with nothing but your imagination and personality, when you do not have your bag with you? We'll show you what you need to know to be empty handed and get raved reviews!

Did you know that if your contract / appearance agreement, is not worded exactly properly, your client can be called on the carpet by the IRS, to pay YOUR taxes! Yes- your CLIENT!!! What a P.R. nightmare THAT would be! I found out things about contract law, that even my attorneys didn't know. Federal coffers are so empty, that the government agencies are turning over every stone, even at the North Pole, to try to find money. Where do you find out how to structure your contracts? How do you negotiate a better-for-you contract with a mall /photo company?  At Santa School, of course! It could mean thousands of dollars, back into your pocket for your tuition investment!

Who do you call, AFTER you graduate, for extreme professional support year-round to keep your career on track? The school you pick should work with you personally to achieve your goals! 

If you have that burning desire and everyone is telling you you "look" like Santa, If children are coming up to  you at Denny's, If mini-vans full of little ones are honking at you, but you don't know where to start...

If you are focused more on how you look externally, than on how you are impacting the lives you encounter...  

If you think about the money, rather than the joy, so that the income flows easily and naturally as an afterthought...   

If you think you are at the top of your game or conversely, you are boring yourself to tears with your performances and conversations... 

If you are serious about helping the Santa industry maintain the revered tradition of Santa while infusing modern technology to appease a new, youthful generation of parents, but have no idea how to merge both ends of the spectrum... 
Santa Garth and Zoo Buddy 2012

Then investing in yourself, FOR THE CHILDREN, renewing your Santa mindset, connecting with one of the several Professional Santa Claus Schools that syncs best with YOUR personality, will refresh and stimulate your enthusiasm, give you insights you cannot find anywhere else, provide you with the tips, tricks, tools and new points of view to have you impressing yourself with your newly instilled pride and accomplishments! 

Yes! It IS an investment, an effort, perhaps a great sacrifice, and maybe even a bit humbling to admit you need an internal make-over to freshen up or get you started, but you'll find (I guarantee it!) that investment will come back to you, 10 fold, almost immediately (this upcoming season)!

Seriously investigate the educational opportunities that are out there for new and veteran Santas! Dig deep! Speak personally with the school's leaders! What is their overall vision? Their commitment to YOU over time? Their level of support? Do they offer continuing education / marketing assistance and placement to keep you growing? Are they easily available to you AFTER you graduate? Are they active year-round or just at training time? What is their experience? Success rate? Their viewpoints on things most important to you about BEcoming / BEing the kind of Santa YOU want to BE? Speak with recent grads of that school to get candid insights on their experience! Consider the tuition (which can be 100% tax deductible)... How are your tuition dollars used to benefit YOU- are food, accessories, perks and things you'll want and need included? (Remember: "You get what you pay for!") Look for scholarships and creative ways to work with the school you want to attend! 

Get involved with your closest quality Santa organizations... attend regularly and find ways to bring education related to BEing / BEcoming better Santas into your gatherings! (PSCS will bring 1/2, 1 & 2 day sessions anywhere in the country for Santa groups- organized or informal!) 

Hop in your sleigh to be in Denver on labor Day Weekend!
Don't skimp! YOU are worth it! The CHILDREN (as well as their parents, seniors and adults) desperately need the magic, the warmth, new memories and the escape that a real, high quality, creative, dedicated Santa provides in today's confusing, violent and frightening world! 

It's NOT about the suit! It's NOT about the beard!
It's about the CHILDREN, the MAGIC and the LOVE you have INSIDE of you!
Let's stir it up! Grab these new ideas and make it more fun and rewarding for everyone!

See you at Professional Santa Claus School Conference 
in Denver, over the Labor Day Weekend!
(We'll show you how, by THIS season, to double, even triple +++ your investment back into your pocket!)

Susen C. Mesco
Master Santa Claus Trainer since 1983!
31st Annual Professional Santa Claus School Denver, CO
August 30 – September 3, 2013

PSCS - Santa Business Tips - Marketing Tip # 17 BRANDING YOURSELF AS SANTA

Pro Santa Claus School - Santa Business - 

Continuing Educations and Information
for serious New and Veteran Professional Santas 
based upon level 1 core curriculum from 
Professional Santa Claus School (PSCS) of Denver Colorado. 
Founded in 1983 
to support great men with great hearts (Real Santas!)
 in maintaining our great holiday tradition.
We'd love to hear from YOU!

In this day and age “marketing” has inundated our lives. 
We almost become immune to noticing it unless it is unique, captivating and memorable.
We can’t turn on a radio, TV, cell phone, computer or drive down a road without being sold something!
He who “markets” effectively, has the competitive edge!
It is a fine balance between honing your Santa Claus craft to excellence and letting the public know what you do, in a way the catches their attention and makes them take action!
My personal preference is to spend more time BEcoming a better Santa and having the greatest of all marketing powers working for you, doing minimal "marketing" but using quality testimonials and referrals to build your business. (Versus spending lots of money on conventional “marketing” tactics, beyond a quality business card.)

At Pro Santa Claus School Conference in Denver, we spend 5 hours on business education, most of which covers unique, low cost/Free, very effective ways to market yourself.

Here is just one of the topics we cover…

One of the new generation’s twists on words, stolen from the good old past. (i.e. “brand” your livestock.) These young whipper snappers wouldn’t know what a real branding iron is if they saw one! Ho Ho Ho!
BRANDING means; Repetitive, instantly recognizable, patterns of advertising & promotion (logo, colors, mascots, visuals, music/jingle...) that evokes an instant feeling/emotion, linked to a service or product. A Brand associates YOU with a specific, unique product, service, concept...
(i.e. The Golden Arches, Ronald McDonald, "2 all beef patties, special sauce. lettuce...", Flo with Progressive, The Lizard from Geico - I liked the cavemen better!)

When you see the Coca Cola logo, you can taste the soda.
When you see the Michelin (marshmallow tire) Man, you associate safety on the road.
When you see J and J, (Johnson and Johnson), you immediately smell baby shampoo and get the feeling of warmth, care and love in tending to a child. And so on…

SO….? When people see your marketing collateral; web site page, business card, flyers, Facebook “Fan” page, etc… what instant emotion do you want to evoke? What tools are you using to make that happen?

AND…Does ALL of your collateral MATCH? (Is it “BRANDED?”) Is there continuity? This is so very important! Is it instantly recognizable? And does the viewer immediately link it to YOU and no other Santa? Does it effectively evoke the correct emotion you want to have built into your “branding?”

Being Santa and BRANDING yourself... because there are lots of us, all in red suits with white beards, with a basic business card. It will take a good amount of thought to DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF from the pack. You can do it! What makes you, as Santa, different? What sets you apart from all other Santas? And what have you incorporated into your portrayal and programs that needs to be translated into your marketing presentation, so people you market to, pick YOU?

First thing Santa must do is be a great Santa!
Second you'll need to spend the time and energy to create your “brand.” This may mean weeks, not hours! WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT? What emotion do you want to evoke in your desired audience? WHO do you want to appeal to? What action do you desire them to take once they see your presentation? What do you wish to accomplish with your Santa career? All this must translate into your collateral. Then…Does it work as you want it to? Find out by testing your pieces out on informal focus group viewers.  PLEASE, Go beyond friends and family to get opinions, comment and input.  Ask dozens of questions like; When you see my business card… what feelings do you get? Which logo / picture do you like better? Why? What is my message? etc.

Then you'll probably need to make some revisions, retest! Once you have settled on what works INTEGRATE all of your pieces to match (Brand!).

The days of slapping a picture and phone number onto paper and calling it “marketing” are long gone. Sorry!

But also, people are so “attacked” by marketing that no one likes the constant shouting of the crazy car dealer (every big city has one) whose ads run over and over and over. Getting in people’s faces is anti-marketing and they’ll be sure NOT to book with you. The thought of having music playing on your website is cute but the typical visit to any page is 30-45 seconds. Music may make that visit even shorter, albeit a cute idea! Oops! Have dignity, ethics and integrity in all of your marketing and correspondence.

Before you “launch” your “brand,” be certain it works (accomplished the emotional response you want!) You have to love it, as do your viewers, because you will be married to your brand for a long, long time.

What happens when a company who has had a particular logo or “look” for a long time, tries to change their look? Stomach turn and folks kind of “rebel,” don’t they? Coca Cola tried to go to a new logo COKE… didn’t work did it? So even if it takes a few months to find the right “brand” to carry through all your collateral, take the time! Do the research, then commit it to all your collateral!

In 1987, American Events adopted our cutie little Santa for our Santa visits advertising. Year after year, for over 30  years, people recognized and LOOKED FOR our logo when booking their Santas. They knew what was offered and the caliber of quality they could expect. When we added various Santa programs we tweaked, but maintained the same logo. For our Santa Claus School, (a completely separate company, managed by the same owner) we again tweaked the very same recognizable logo. Here are some samples…



So get savvy! Be coordinated! Make it fun! 
Be willing to spend what it takes for a polished, classy look. 
You don't have to (so please don't) go over the top! 

Remember… your referrals and testimonials are the best, most effective and lowest cost  (FREE) marketing you’ll ever have.  (PSCS does some promotion of, but no advertising for, our Pro Santa Claus School and it fills up every year with super top rate, great, new and veteran Santas. We don't have to slam the Santa industry with our advertising or communications. Our level of excellence, comprehensive / unique curriculum and the results achieved by our students after attending is plenty to attract the top Santas in the world! AND they truly benefit & profit from attending!)  Word of mouth via our very successful Graduates is the key! Sort of the best kept secret in the industry!)  

BE a great (sincere, positive and enthusiastic) Santa first, and a marketing guru last! If you are truly a great Santa with something unique and special to offer, chances are you won’t even have to bother with much marketing after your first 2 years in business!

See you at the Pro Santa School Conference this fall!

Susen C. Mesco
Master Santa Claus Trainer since 1983!
31st Annual Professional Santa Claus School Denver, CO
August 30 – September 3, 2013

PART 3- Pro Santas using Social Media…(Facebook Personal Page)

PART 3- Pro Santas using Social Media…(Facebook Personal Page)
Continuing Educations and Information 
for serious New and Veteran Professional Santas 
based upon level 1 core curriculum from 
Professional Santa Claus School (PSCS) of Denver Colorado. 
Founded in 1983 
to support great men with great hearts (Real Santas!) in maintaining a great tradition.

Our last 2 posts covered using Facebook... specifically, PART 1 covered Santas setting up a "Fan" page as your business page for your Santa Claus business for your clients and PART 2 covered having a Santa Claus “Friend” page to connect with other Santas and the Santa Industry… 
Now we talk about YOU…. just plain, human, wonderful YOU!

OK… Here is the last page you'll have on Facebook… 

  • Your  "human" page… Joe Smith… 
  • Again, a “FRIEND” page where you’ll connect with anyone OUTSIDE the Santa community- friends, family, business associates, neighbors, classmates, politicians, political parties, busty bikini babes in the spiked heels, and children (who aren't supposed to be on FB!) and teens… basically any other “mortals.” 
  • Your profile photo on this page, is of you, NOT in any sort of Santa hat or dress.  Perhaps fishing or golfing or on your motorcycle. Even you, years ago in your military uniform or your high school or college pics... Anything EXCEPT any form of YOU, related to Santa Claus (aside from here, you may be a guy with a white beard.)
This is where you let the whole world know;
Who YOU think should or should not be President. 
You cheer for your Superbowl and March Madness favorite teams,
You announce your dog has had puppies, 
You complain about your neighbor’s tree growing into your yard, 
You give us your views on gun control, birth control and pest control. 
ANYTHING and EVERYTHING a child would expect Santa to NOT to be involved/comment about.
Your image “as Santa” (and ours!) is not at stake! 
Go ahead! Share an off color joke, swear word or risqué / gruesome  pics. 
Be your “human” self. 

Plain ol' Joe and I don't mean J.O.E. = Jolly Old Elf !

Keeping your Santa and human persona SEPARATE will bring you much dignity and success in your career as a professional or future professional Santa Claus. 

It will also afford you the ability to express your real thoughts, political views and controversial issues, apart from your Santa persona, keeping YOUR Santa persona pristine, not associated with any one thing or ideal that will turn off 50% of your viewers.

One more thing… I am very unclear and somewhat baffled by all the “ELF” profiles that have popped up over the past 18 months on Facebook. Hmmm?

Since most of the “ELF” profile photos and their posts use cartoon profiles, I have a sneaking suspicion that some parents are allowing their children to have FB pages under this "Elf" guise because of their desire to interact with Santas... Do these parents really know how many Santas are on Facebook…   
Elves = Children? Teens? or Adults having fun? I just do not know! Do you?

Hopefully, it is adults, having fun, finding a way to get in on the Christmas scene if they aren't Santas or Mrs. Clauses. Then... That's great!

In "real" life, Santa is associated with the ELVES he hand selects to work with him at the North Pole. Santa KNOWS who he has working with him in that scenario...
BUT...FB does not allow any real discovery process to know if you are “friending”; an adult having fun or a child/teen. The mischievous "Elves" aren't being very savvy about posting accurate elfin information with their cartoon personalities... Use caution!

So, you need to make a rather tricky decision when/if  “friending” these cute "ELVES." Seems like a good idea ... Santa connected to Elves... but since we really don't know... My suggestion is let the Elves have their own little community unless you KNOW the persona behind the cartoon! Better safe than sorry, though! You have to make that decision for yourself on your "Santa" Friend page. On your personal page... Friend away to everyone... Even these mysterious "Elves."

Using these same suggestions (in Parts 1-3) with your Linked In, Twitter, Pinterest and other accounts would be considered prudent, ethical and professional.

Please feel free to leave us YOUR comments, ideas and tips 
for using Social Media tools as Santa Claus! 
We'd love to hear from YOU!

See you at the Santa School Conference this fall!

Susen Mesco
Master Santa Claus Trainer since 1983!
31st Professional Santa Claus School Denver, CO
August 30 – September3, 2013