Throughout the year we mark a wide range of special dates such as Valentines, Easter or Christmas. Aside from that, we might have dates relevant to our industry or milestones that are worthy of a celebration in our own business. Regardless of the industry you’re operating in it is important that at least some of these are acknowledged through your marketing, despite all the technology available to us humans do matter too.

So, in this week’s blog post we’re going to share some tips for marketing on special dates whatever they might be for your business.

Use your website – add a festive greeting at Christmas, bring in a little (or a lot!) more green for St Patrick’s Day or add in some hearts and flowers for Valentine’s if you’re a retailer or restaurant who will be in demand at this time of year. I always tell people that your website should never be ‘finished’ as realistically if you’re going to make the best use of it over its lifetime you will add new products or services, you’ll make the most of your blog and you’ll refresh the images even occasionally. Even if the website sits at the end of a to-do list (it shouldn’t, find out here why!) making a few seasonal adjustments tells your customers that you’re tuned in to what they’re thinking about, you’d be surprised to find winter coats as the main image on a high profile retailer in the summer wouldn’t you? In your small business regardless of platform you should have a means of making even minor updates, if not make a note in the diary now to find out how you can keep your site fresh and relevant.

Run promotions – with the enormous increase of online retail in the past year there have been more promotions than ever before. For St Patrick’s Day I’ve seen discounts available where you quote CLOVER, for Christmas a typical discount code might be HOLLY. When you’re running a promotion you have an objective, increasing sales or clearing out last season’s stock would be two of the more popular. If you know you have an abundance of your product sitting in a warehouse and it’s appropriate, think about how you might tie it into the next seasonal date. Something typically Irish such as Irish-produced products is ideal for St Patrick’s Day whereas if you had a whole lot of irons to shift it might not go down well as a Mother’s Day promotion?! Discounting for the sake of it though shouldn’t be part of your strategy, this is where planning your year or even parts of your year given the times we’re in can make for a huge difference in how your business performs.

Get a newsletter out – newsletters are more popular than ever, according to Hubspot in October 2021 email marketing was up at that point up a whopping 52% on pre-covid levels! Not everybody is comfortable with sending out a newsletter, sometimes it’s creating the content or wondering what to include, in other cases it’s lack of understanding in relation to software. There are many strands to getting email marketing right, not least when it comes to the legal side of it and list-building. However, for those of you who have a list, special occasions and an appropriately-themed newsletter can deliver a significant return on your investment – particularly now when your customers are home more and online more often.

Join in community events or activities – 2021 along with 2020 will be two years we’ll never forget. Who ever would have anticipated that festivals or events we’ve all become accustomed to over the years simply wouldn’t be happening and that we’d be asked to stay home and stay safe instead? During a normal year we’d encourage you to sponsor or participate in community-based events where your business relies on local footfall, ensuring that you’re seen by those who will buy from you. This year like last, those local festivities are a little more complex. Businesses and communities have been amazingly innovative in how they approach their online activities around special occasions but some simply haven’t been able to adapt with some sectors such as those reliant on fund-raising struggling to achieve their goals. We are all mindful of spend now more than ever, however, as a business if the budget is there how about reaching out to a local sports club to offer sponsorship, help them prepare for re-opening? Or taking part in a fundraiser for a charitable cause? One I always participate in is Darkness Into Light and was delighted to see how they’ve come up with some ideas for this year which you can find on their website – this is something you might also choose to do on a personal level if it’s not appropriate for work. Businesses have many obstacles right now but we will come out the other side and anything you can do that supports your local community in the challenging times we’re in will pay dividends to all of us in the longer term.

Get out the decorations – whether it’s a giant Santa or a display of pumpkins, where it’s appropriate bring a little of the special occasion into your business. If you’re not trading from a public premises this is the ideal time to share a photo or video from behind the scenes, International Women’s Day was a time when a lot of businesses opted for this and in many cases it was a super insight into what those dealing with these companies every day won’t ordinarily see.

Use your social media – whatever your choice of platform and regardless of your industry it’s perfectly acceptable to post a greeting for dates such as Father’s Day or Halloween. However, you might be a little selective at that as your post might perfectly suit Instagram yet look oddly out of place on Linkedin which ultimately is the business-related social channel. Opt for something that works for your audience, remember your branding but this is a day you can take off too. If you’re selling exercise equipment does it really sit well with a greeting for Easter when we’re all overindulging in chocolate? Trying to exploit a trending hashtag in the hope you’ll find yourself a new audience can backfire so on special occasions think about the ‘social’ side of social media and ease up on the selling, these dates are about people not sales opportunities.

Get the team together – yes it’s not strictly marketing and we do know you can’t do this in person for now but virtual parties or quizzes or even a virtual coffee morning are all good for your team and quite shareable on your blog or social media too. There will a huge demand for meals out and team-building events when restrictions ease and we’ll all look forward to this. For now though where you’ve got members of your team who could quite well be living and working from home, your internal communications is a great foundation for ensuring that as we all move towards a new way of working and living that you’ve kept up some momentum within the team.

Take a day off – yes social media is 24/7 but your customers are aware that you’re all entitled to have time off too. By all means have notifications switched on in the event of something important kicking off, who after all wants to see a complaint fester for a long weekend with thousands more seeing it or worse joining in? However, if you’ve told people what your arrangements are over a period such as Christmas people will respect that you might not be in a position to resolve their problem when there’s nobody in the office. And, if you choose to respond sooner if anything you could well pleasantly surprise them instead. We’re all mindful of the importance of a work/life balance and should you choose to work over a bank holiday weekend that’s great, it can be the ideal time to catch up on paperwork or tackle that project that needs your full concentration. However, remember your customers are entitled to their time off too and while they’re quite likely to shop online late at night or over the weekend if your business is more of a Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 style then you can ease up the sales pitch when they won’t expect to see you anyway. We should also remind you that your activities should centre around your audience on this one, if you’re selling outside of Ireland people might not be aware of it being a bank holiday here on the 17th March. Similarly if you’re trading with the US you might just find the Christmas holidays are a little shorter than they are elsewhere.

You should also of course look back on what’s worked for you in the past. If you always run with an ‘egg-ceptional’ easter promotion that works you need to think about a ‘cracking’ idea to replace it!

We are in challenging times and while for some of us our shop window to the world will always be our website, for others it’s that branch of their business that came second to their store or maybe even became more important in recent times. None of us are working as we did in 2019, in some cases it’s just not an option right now but we will be back. Brighter days and longer days are ahead and maybe now more than ever we do need those special dates to keep some sort of routine about our lives at home and at work.

If you’d like help with Marketing, Social Media or Web Design to ensure that you’re well prepared for special events and every other day in your business please feel free to take us up on a complimentary consultation which you can schedule at this link.

And to sign off, here at The Marketing Shop we will be closed for business on Wednesday 17th March for the bank holiday. Wishing each and every one of our readers and customers a Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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