Halloween marks the start of the sprint towards the holidays. It also coincides with the inevitable slog through cold and flu season. The coincident marketing-;from aspirational holiday vignettes to perversely personified mucus-;gives us all a lot to think about. Certainly, as consumers. But also as marketing storytellers.

While battling for breath with the flu recently, the idea of medicinal marketing occurred to me. No, not the challenge of illustrating often unpleasant topics in entertaining ways. Rather, that some marketing feels like a bitter pill or a gooey liquid with a cloying aftertaste. Consumers might choke it down, but what they would really enjoy is a deep breath of fresh sweet air.

So here are three tips to reimagine your marketing tale through my fresh air filter:

1. A little prevention goes a long way. Yes, yes: We should all wash our hands more and adopt the Dracula sneeze technique. But content marketing can, and should, experiment with tones and tactics beyond the pedantic professor. Maybe you are in the catering business. The holidays are coming, and you are hoping for heaps of advance orders. Consider creating some pre-planning tips or listicles of things consumers can get done ahead of time to avoid last minute time-crunches. In the fitness biz? Ideas to head off holiday stress, fatigue and weight gain with fun activities will appeal to your crowd. Or maybe you run a hardware store. How about a hosting-the-family safety checklist that weaves in diverse family idiosyncrasies and entertaining challenges? Have fun and help your customers get ready for all that the holidays are going to throw at them.

2. Take the natural approach. Okay, look: We're all really impressed with everyone who manages not to catch the bug that's going around but some of us just aren't so lucky. Or gifted or whatever. Content marketing should always be there for your customers, whether they followed the best advice or not. Particularly around the holidays, people are going to find themselves in some holy-crap moments and that's an opportunity. The trick, of course, is not to be the mother in law whose solution to your turkey trouble is to tell you how in her day, all proper ladies were up at 4 plucking birds or some such madness. There is nothing better than crisis-solution content at the holidays. I'm pretty sure that any ideas to address the failure-to-secure-this-season's-must-have-toy will be popular for a wide range of business types. But your customers will also love hearing from you on what they've come to trust you for -- from quick homemade costumes and derailing family drama to feeding finicky eaters and the best allergy-free centerpieces.

3. You survived. Now what?  This too shall pass. I mean the flu. Okay, and maybe a little bit the holidays too. In a perfect world, marketers have been there for their customers every step of the way during this hectic, harried and yes, heartwarming season. If, like many marketers, you spent a great deal of your annual budget (and energy) on holiday marketing pushes, you cannot afford to let the afterglow quickly fade. Find a way to transition from your chummy holiday efforts into that I'm always here for you friend. Obvious options include organizing seasonal items and beating the winter blues. But when you are considering these, build in ways to connect them to your perennial content offerings-;organizing just about anything on any budget or local experiences that are fun and uplifting. The real trick isn't just being someone who can be counted on for an annual apple pie, but someone customers count on all year long.

The holiday season brings with it a raft of marketing opportunities. Many will be heavy-handed sales pitches or too-gooey, artificially sweetened clichés. Leveraging content that demonstrates sincere customer understanding and empathy offers marketers a way to strengthen their customer connection all year long.