holiday marketing small business

Tap Into the Power of Events and Holidays In Your Marketing

Sure every small business owner on Main Street and beyond knows that tapping into the shopping “season” that starts in November and leads up to Christmas is a no brainer, and is something you’ve probably already got in place.  The reality is everyone’s doing it and your promotion is probably not going to stand out against anyone else’s. But what about the rest of the year? There are events and holidays year-round that you can tap into and stand out and grab the attention of prospects and customers.

That’s why I want to share an article below from Wordtracker about how your small business can tap into the power of events and holidays in your marketing.

Think about all the holidays that fall throughout the year – even ones that aren’t typically associated with shopping as Christmas is.  Don’t forget major events: Super Bowl, Stanley Cup and other sporting events; Award Season in Hollywood (GRAMMYs etc.); season changes, and so on. The list is endless!

Tip: If you really want to get creative, google “little known holidays” or “special days of the year”. You’ll find everything from Donut Day to National Double Check Your Clocks Day, so have some fun promoting those!

Find a way to connect with your audience over those special days and you are increasing your chance of making a sale, while also creating an impression that lasts long-term and pays future dividends.

Where To Begin

Every content marketer should start with an Editorial Calendar.  You can outline not only the major holidays but also any social events and pop culture tie-ins that you want to use to your advantage.

Tip: Remember who your target audience is. My Editorial Calendar is based on US, Canadian, Australian and UK holidays and events, because that’s where my audience lives.  You should also think about the holidays of different religions and cultural events.

What Makes A GREAT Holiday Campaign?

  • Create something that inspires emotion and a strong reaction, whether that’s funny, shocking or adorable.
  • Create something people can relate to. Whenever someone connects with your ideas, you subconsciously earn credibility that can help you earn their business.
  • Create something that gets people involved. The best campaigns involve audience participation.
  • Be selfish – think about your needs!  I’ve seen some great campaigns that were designed to help create general brand awareness.  That’s fine for a large company with a significant ad budget, but small and medium-sized businesses don’t usually have the luxury of spending “brand awareness” dollars  without also capturing leads or sales.  Ensure whatever you create has a systematic approach to generate leads or sales and make sure the results are measurable.
  • Creativity.  Nothing beats thinking outside the box and coming up with something unexpected.

Successful Holiday Campaigns:


Coca-Cola:  In 2011, Coke launched a “Shake Up Christmas” campaign. Do you remember it?  In the video Santa shook a snow globe which contained the real world and as a result, people and things shook and slid all over the place.  It was funny, cute and memorable.

Christmas Campaign Idea: If somebody mentions something that you stock in a social media post, contact them, let them know you offer it, and offer them a special limited time coupon code.  Use a unique hashtag and get some exposure for your random discount giving.


Tesco: A British company came up with “Find the Eggs“,  an online Easter egg hunt which used Google Street View technology to allow players to explore their streets to find virtual Easter eggs.  Thousands of eggs were hidden.  This isn’t online anymore but was a lot of fun.

holiday marketing


Walmart: They created a mobile phone game, where the player taps at eggs that pop out of the ground, while avoiding the bunnies. When the game ends, the user is prompted to check out Walmart’s amazing candy deals on their online store.

Easter Campaign Idea: Create a “scavenger hunt” on your site – hide images or words on the site and have visitors search for it and use hashtags to post the location when they find the items.

St. Patricks’ Day:

Baileys: They created a fun campaign on St. Paddy’s day to remind consumers that Baileys is an Irish drink meant just for such celebrations.  Bailey’s was up against beer for St. Paddy’s Day “Drink Title”. They created a Facebook app which let fans create a cute profile photo with “Kiss Me I’m Irish (and so is my Baileys!).”  After sharing their spiffy new profile pic on Facebook, they were entered to win a Baileys “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirt!

holiday marketing small business















Other Holiday Campaign Ideas:

President’s Day: You could choose a particular President and do something for which that President is known. Want to celebrate Reagan?  Include a free bag of jelly beans with every order.  Want to celebrate Obama? Create a virtual basketball hoop and when people make a shot, they win a certain discount.  Ask people to submit videos of their best Presidential imitations and parodies.  The best one wins a prize.

New Year: Ask your audience to post their resolutions and award the most ambitious resolution a prize. Turn it into a long-term campaign and pick someone to follow to ensure they follow through on their resolution.  You give someone the spotlight and they’ll help you create more exposure for your brand.

Boxing Day: In Canada, Boxing Day is much like Black Friday – tons of blow-out sales.  Online you may want to do more than slash prices.  Look to the origins of the holiday (it exists in so many countries and there are varying stories on what it stands for) and create something fun.  The two most common stories I’ve heard are:

  1. Delivery people who worked through the holidays delivering presents received their gift, a Christmas Box, on the day after Christmas.
  2. It’s the day to box up all your ornaments and decorations and put them away.

Ask people to create their own origin story for Boxing Day.  Or ask people what they would include in a Christmas Box.  Include a free Christmas Box with every order.  Ask people what they pack up first, and maybe even put out a series of images and text posts with tips to help people more quickly and efficiently get through the unpleasant task of boxing up their Christmas cheer.

You get the idea, right?  Have fun with it and see what you can come up with!

Ready for some more ideas and tips?

Holidays are the perfect time to create fresh new content – it doesn’t have to be a contest or give-away.

Some ideas for holiday content:

  • Infographics – outline holiday stats or traditions
  • Recipes for the holiday
  • Invite users to share their holiday traditions and compile them into a post
  • Branded cover photo for social media
  • Trivia
  • Shopping or holiday prep checklists


Which Social Networks Work Best?

Not a simple question, since it depends on your target audience and the content you’re looking to promote.  The most successful online promotions for holidays, events, or even festivals work best when you include all the social networks.  All of the networks have some pretty compelling stats when it comes to social media influencing purchases.

Social Stats

  • Pinterest users approach the site with more of a shopping mentality than on other social sites.
  • 47% of US online shoppers say they bought something as a direct result of a Pinterest recommendation. (Source: Quicksprout)
  • 64% of Twitter users have purchased a product because of Twitter.
  • 62% of shoppers tweet about purchases they’ve made. (Source: DB5 Twitter Holiday Shopping Study)
  • 38% of users bought an item after sharing or liking it on Facebook.
  • 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.
  • 78% of respondents in one study said social media posts impact their purchases.


Holiday Marketing Tips

  • Go real time.  Oreo’s “You can still dunk in the dark” image tweet at the 2013 Super Bowl garnered a lot of attention. Look at all the retweets! Free promotion on the most expensive advertising day of the year. Real-time and responsive social media is highly effective.  Think of the Royal Baby, the Emmys, the Oscars, and so many other events where you now see real-time posts.

event marketing small business












Countdown to holidays or events with a contest and daily prize.  Remington used its Facebook page to launch a 12-day advent calendar before Christmas. Each day, users visited the page to reveal the day’s giveaway and enter to win.

  • Consider the holiday that you are tying in to your promotions and consider how your customer’s routines may change during that holiday season.  People get crazy around the holidays. Events, shopping, and traveling will disrupt schedules. Pay attention to the times they are using your site and social media, and target posts for the times you are most likely to reach them. It is likely you will have to adapt your regular posting schedule.

Holiday marketing makes sense for so many reasons and it’s a chance to have some fun and really connect with your audience online.  I leave you with two tips…

  1. Plan in advance. That Editorial Calendar is your friend!  Otherwise you’ll miss opportunities… which means lost exposure, traffic and sales.
  2. Be resourceful. If you can’t do it on your own, consider outsourcing or brainstorming with creative friends, family or colleagues.

About the Author smallbizmarketing

Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money.

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