Religion and marketing do not mix. I know I’m going to get some grief over this post, but here it is: Unless you are doing marketing for a church or other religious organization, my recommendation is that you keep the religion out of your marketing mix.

And this includes your professional holiday wishes.

When you sign your messages with a “God Bless You” or “In His Name” or some such hint at religiosity; when you put a cross or an ichthus fish — — in the corner of your ad; when you send out a holiday card that emphasizes the Christian view of the holiday: there’s a good chance of turning someone off.

In fact, while the intent of that fish symbol usually is to say “We welcome Christians,” it is often interpreted by non-Christians as “We prefer not to do business with non-Christians.”

A 2008 report on religion in America by Pew research shows that 78.4 people in the United States say that they are Christian, and a 2012 Gallop poll on religion puts that number at 77%. [Update: In 2015, the Pew Research Group put that at 70%., and in 2019 it was down to 65%.]

I know, I know: roughly 65% of folks out there who are Christians think Jesus is the reason for the season and all that. But this means roughly 35% don’t agree. When it comes to the marketing for your business, consider keeping your message to “Happy Holidays.” That way the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, and other people on your mailing list who are not Christians won’t feel inclined to hit “unsubscribe” or, worse: look for a different company to do business with.

(The image in this post is from

The moral of the story

If you want to proclaim your faith: go for it! We are a melting pot of lots of things including faiths and we are all free to express that. Just go into it knowing that not everybody in your audience will agree with your sentiment, and some folks will feel uncomfortable about it.

[Edit: And here’s a very on-topic survey from the Public Religion Research Institute that concludes that Americans’ preference that businesses say “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas” is trending upward.]

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