For Marketing Pros: Take Advantage of Crazy Holidays, Too

Written by Jolene Campbell

Don’t forget National Dress Up Your Pet Day.

aNewDomain — When consumers are focused on a major event or holiday, tying it to your marketing efforts may help increase awareness and message retention.

 Each month is unique. In March and April, for example, holidays include St. Patrick’s Day, April Fools Day, Easter, Passover, Tax Day and Earth Day. When working on your annual marketing plan, strategize and incorporate national holidays and local events wherever possible.

marketingCareful planning and thoughtful program development that takes advantage of large-scale consumer and cultural celebrations can lead to a win-win for your company and clients.

Don’t forget to factor in the seasons and weather when thinking about your year-long marketing campaigns.

When the forecast calls for another round of freezing temperatures, tempt travelers to book a Caribbean cruise through your travel agency or post a countdown to summer and bathing suit season on your gym website to remind people to renew their memberships.

Don’t overlook rituals like spring cleaning, summer vacation and back-to-school in the fall.

How could your hardware store business have capitalized on Daylight Saving Time? You could’ve sent an e-mail campaign that includes value-added content in the form of a tip like, “Did you know that many fire departments suggest that Daylight Saving Time is the ideal time to change the batteries on the smoke detectors in your home?”

Of course, you could just make up your own holiday (or actually celebrate it on “Make Up Your Own Holiday Day” on March 26. Here are few other unusual holidays to have fun with, courtesy of Holiday Insights.

January 14: Dress Up Your Pet Day

February 26: Tell a Fairy Tale Day

March 20: Extraterrestrial Abductions Day

April 3: Tweed Day

May 14: Dance Like a Chicken Day

June 6: National Yo-Yo Day

July 13: Embrace Your Geekness Day

August 6: Wiggle Your Toes Day

September 28: Ask a Stupid Question Day

October 5: Do Something Nice Day

November 15: Clean Your Refrigerator Day

December 28: Card Playing Day

Think about unique demographics, like Millennials or retirees, and figure how you can incorporate their needs into your marketing strategy. During the holiday season, appeal to the last-minute shopper as well as the bargain hunter by turning them into repeat customers by offering them return incentives like coupons on your sales receipts that kick in after the New Year or a special gift certificate deal.

Is your town obsessed with a particular sport? Whether it’s hockey or college football, weave your product or service into that story and spur sales at the same time. Also look to national sports, like the Super Bowl or World Series, for ideas. From creating a special homepage banner promoting a sports-themed sale to posting photos of your employees showing their school pride on game day through social media, you have many subtle ways to show your organization is full of loyal fans.

While sports are important to many of your customers, don’t overlook cultural events — like theater and ballet season and art and craft festivals — to reach a different audience. When working on your key message, remember there are often multiple audiences attending these events. At a street fair, not only do you have participants visiting the booths and buying items, you also have the vendors selling goods.

Consider adding giveaways or a well-designed contest to your marketing mix. If planned well, a contest leading up to an event or holiday could serve as a lead-generation tool as well as garner goodwill with your customer base. Using social media to promote your contest is a great way to introduce and include your customers in your promotion and capture the eyes of new clients.

Don’t forget to include internal company events. If you have a product launch, for example, you’ll want to craft specific promotions to support the introduction.

Cause-awareness marketing is a wonderful way to engage by focusing on issues that connect with your clients. Some causes are more well-known and have months dedicated to them, like Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Other causes find their way into the public eye by trending in the news, like how the viral Ice Bucket Challenges brought attention to ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Perhaps your company has a particular cause that it is passionate about through a personal connection, like showcasing employees and their family who have served or currently serve in the military. Do your employees volunteer at the local food bank or local Habitat for Humanity? Encourage your customers to drop off canned food items at your store or sign up to participate before your next company community service day.

A word to the marketing wise however: Remember the key is to plan everything in moderation. Just like overindulging at Thanksgiving can lead to a stomach ache, tread cautiously to make sure your interactions are appropriate and valued rather than unwelcome interruptions. When done well, adopting a major consumer event or holiday as part of an overall marketing effort can help your public relations, social media and traditional marketing efforts have a positive, long-lasting impact on engagement with customers.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jolene Campbell.