Effective marketers begin with a planning calendar. They select events to celebrate, concepts to communicate, and plot it all out on the pages of the year. Using a simple calendar, you can improve your marketing — and be more effective with it — if you take a fresh look at the possibilities.
If you are doing any marketing to your customers at all (not advertising, but trying to show customers how your company relates to their lives, their needs, and their community) then you no doubt hit the biggies: New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Earth Day, Mother’s Day, Graduation, Father’s Day, Wedding season, Canada Day, Back to School, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas. And that’s a great start, but it’s only a start. Everybody is doing those, and your message can be lost in the shuffle.
To stand out, let your company show some personality in its marketing. Do the normal things, but look for special “days” or “months” that are meaningful, interesting or just down-right fun. The calendar is literally full of them.
Click and go
One of the most wonderful things about the Internet is that you type “Canadian holidays and celebrations” into a search engine and find calendars with things to celebrate every day of the year. Don’t believe it? Then try the 2024 Celebrations page here.
Using events that have already been established means you’re half way up the hill when you tie in with them. You’re not inventing something from scratch. You’re also free to select celebrations and events that have meaning to you, your company, your employees or your community. All of those add impact and help you get everybody involved.
What are some of these events? Here’s a brief list of examples — some serious, some humorous — that can help you put your name on the map with customers.
January 19 — National Popcorn Day. Fill the front office with the delicious smell of freshly-popped corn, and offer it free to customers who come in. Rent a popcorn maker and keep the day light and fluffy.
February 2 — National Wear Red Day. It’s more than the colour of clothing, it symbolizes a focus on heart health. Highlight the difficulty of cleaning red clothes properly at home. Ask the Heart Association for information you can include with each order to promote good heart health to your customers.
March 1 — Employee Appreciation Day. Highlight your employees in a special way with inclusions of “Get to Know Megan” or “This is our Fred” fliers with each order, so customers feel they know your people. We all like to do business where we know someone. Include a nice photo and talk about their hobbies, their expertise in your plant, and their longevity with the company.
April 15 — National Laundry Day. What a perfect day to promote your wash-dry-fold business. Use humor in your pitch, but let customers know you can relieve them of a chore nobody likes. Give clear instructions how to access your service.
April 17 — World Hemophilia Day. Make arrangements with the local blood bank to have a mobile collection van in your parking lot so your customers can donate. Be first in line to do so.
Are you getting the idea? It’s not a great deal of work to pick something for each month, in addition to the “biggies”, and assign someone in your company to think of ways to promote it. Your company will become known in the community for its interest in celebrating both the big and the small things throughout the year. We all need a little more to smile about.
How to choose?
Marketing happens because of planning. That means gathering ideas and then finding ways to implement them. Put some funds aside for this. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but some will be necessary. Then select the 4 or 6 or 12 things you will tie in with during the year.
Be sensitive. Not all holidays or celebrations are appropriate for all audiences or all communities. Select events with customers in mind.
Have a balance of serious and playful. But don’t be afraid to express your personality.
Pick events meaningful to you, staff members or the community. For instance, if a staff member has a child with Autism, you can highlight and educate the spectrum (without exposing the employee or child) and encourage people to give for research, be more sensitive to those struggling, or spotlight someone who agrees to tell their story.
Pick different events or celebrations each year to keep it fresh and interesting for customers and staff alike.
Let’s take the example of April 14 — Pi Day. What on earth can you do with that? (Pi expresses the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle.) For one pizza chain, Pi Day is huge! Go in and you discover your all-you-can-eat pizza bar is just $3.14 — the first three digits of the irrational number called Pi (3.14159265359…). Since the price is normally about $10, this is a huge hit with the customers. And they remember it (and return) every April 14. That’s creative, attention-getting use of what sounds like a silly celebration!
Got the calendar… now what?
In our next installment, we’ll take the calendar and give it wings. How do you get the word out on your promotions? Where does the marketing move from your planning board to the customer’s consciousness? Stay tuned….
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.