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Are you capitalizing on holidays in your marketing campaigns? Columnist Will Scott discusses how brand marketers can use lesser-known holidays to help fill their content calendars.
Marketers are a resourceful group of folks. I mean, we have to be, right? Every day, we wake up and go to battle against the other one zillion brands out there for a tiny piece of that marketing Holy Grail: consumer awareness. And without a doubt, that is getting increasingly harder.
So it’s no wonder that, when face-to-face with an empty content calendar, we all look for interesting ideas to help the brands we represent stand out from the crowd.
Enter the uptick in national “holidays” that we have all seen over the last several years. This list of “holidays” consists of many special occasions that the average person would never even know existed without help from us marketers.
For example, did you know that this month is National Bike Month, National Egg Month, National Hamburger Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, National BBQ Month, National Water Safety Month, National Get Caught Reading Month, and National Chocolate Custard Month? And those are just the monthly observations.
For day-specific celebrations: May 8 is No Socks Day. May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Day. Don’t forget to visit your mom on May 8, which is Mother’s Day, and May 18, which is National Visit Your Relatives Day, or tip your waiter or waitress a little bit more on May 21, their national day. On any given day in America, there are up to six or more “holidays” to observe.
Does that mean brands should blindly jump on board and figure out how to leverage these sometimes mundane (Do we really need to celebrate a National Camera Day on June 29?) holidays? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Brands successfully capitalizing on obscure holidays
Mark your calendars now: June 3 is National Donut Day.
Originally established in 1938 by the Chicago Salvation Army to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I, now all of the major donut companies, like Dunkin’ Donuts, deliciously leverage this day each year by inviting people to enjoy a free donut. Yummy! Thank you, Chicago Salvation Army.
Similarly, IHOP got Miss America, Nina Davuluri, to take part in its annual fundraiser on National Pancake Day (March 8). They partner with Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and encourage guests to contribute at least what they would have paid for the pancakes, or $5. Since its inception in 2006, IHOP has raised more than $15 million for the charity.
American online dating website Elite Singles capitalized on International Kissing Day (July 6) by developing this infographic to help people answer that age-old question: Are you a bad kisser?
Think you have to be a national chain or large international brand to participate in all this weird holiday hoopla? Think again. Just ask Tonerboss, a small retailer based in California that specializes in premium compatible toner cartridges for HP printers.
A couple of years ago, they made National Chocolate Ice Cream Day on June 7 work in their favor by giving away Baskin Robbins gift cards for orders amounting to $100 and up. They even made the promotion work for those who don’t enjoy ice cream:
Capitalizing on April Fools’ Day
More widely known, there is also one of my favorite advertising holidays, April Fools’ Day. It’s that one magical day when brands large and small try really hard to be smart and amusing on their smallest budgets of the year. Here are a few of my favorites:
Meet the Reclino-Max, the latest addition to the gym chain’s world of judgment-free fitness.
Honda decided to have some fun with the world’s fascination with emojis and sent out this press release promising emoji registration plates for car buyers in the UK. If you can already order a pizza from Domino’s just by sending an emoji, it’s probably only a matter of time until Honda’s dream comes true.
Tired of annoying calls from family and friends? Try Zappos’ new service, called Save Time For U (or #STFU), which lets you send those calls you don’t want to talk to directly to Zappos’ legendary customer service reps. Watch the ad here.
I also love this anti-April Fools’ Day effort by Skype last year.
Last year, Search Influence (my agency) even got into the April Fools’ Day shenanigans when we “launched” our new twist on the food truck — the Mobile SEO truck — to help businesses become more mobile-friendly in advance of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update (or “Mobilegeddon”) deadline.
No doubt, a smart marketer will always find a way to find ready buyers. Whether that is leveraging Pancake Day or International Kissing Day or even April Fool’s Day, I say, “Go for it.”
These obscure holidays will provide you with a great starting point for ideas to promote your product or service. And, just think, while your competitors are duking it out during the mainstream holidays like Valentine’s Day or Christmas, your message will gain all of the attention on a more non-cluttered day like National Cotton Candy Day (December 7).
And if you can’t find a weird or obscure holiday that works for your brand, try March 26: Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. Anything goes.
Do you have an example of an obscure holiday marketing effort that worked well? Let me know on social media!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.