What we will cover
Four types of special day
So what counts as a ‘special day’? There is no one list of special days that will suit every business, but it can be helpful to split them into four categories.
First, we have those national public holidays and memorable dates that are broadly recognised across the country. These include St. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and Christmas. Most businesses will organise marketing activities around some of these dates.
Second, there are the big international awareness days, weeks and months. These include Veganuary, World Book Day, Earth Day, Star Wars Day (we had to mention that one!), World Fair Trade Day, World Oceans Day, World Breastfeeding Week, World Heart Day, Black History Month, World Mental Health Day, Movember, Human Rights Day, etc.
Third, you have the more niche awareness days. Some are specific to the UK (Houseplant Week UK, National Tea Day, Coeliac UK Awareness Week, etc.), while others range from the interesting (World Trivia Day, National Pi Day, Name Your Car Day, etc.) to the downright bizarre ( International Nose Picking Day, Night of the Radishes, Bean Throwing Day, etc.)
Finally, there are the sector specific awareness and event days, which cover everything from employee recognition days (Administrative Professionals Week, Nurse’s Day, Volunteers’ week, etc.) to industry and sporting events (the Oscars, Wimbledon, Boat Race, Women’s World Cup, etc.)
But what is the importance of special days in a marketing plan? Here are four advantages of embracing these annual landmarks in your strategy.
The importance of special days in a marketing plan: 4 advantages
Planning big means thinking small
In our experience, marketing plans often fail in one of two ways. They either neglect the ‘big picture’, which results in an unconnected chain of activities. Or the big vision isn’t grounded enough in practical actions. The business may have every intention of launching a product that ties in with, for example, World Wildlife Day, but by the time the marketing team gets a campaign together, it’s late March and the conversation has moved on.
A plan of content focussed around the wider “special days” conversations
By compiling a list of relevant special days and adding them into your annual content calendar, you can start to plan exactly how you will connect your content. For example, you can ensure you highlight the special day in your monthly newsletter and perhaps link it with an informative blog post. If you are targeting a big event like the London Marathon, you can start working on the details (will you be sponsoring a runner, holding a fundraiser, launching a new product, etc.)
Once you have your special days planned in, you can work backwards and break down your marketing activities into chunks including weekly action steps. It can be surprising how early you need to act to ensure a campaign has the assets it needs.
For example, you may have to start filming your video for World Mental Health Day (October 10th) in April, March or even earlier to allow time for post-production and stakeholder approval.
The importance of special days in a marketing plan is that you and your team can use regular triggers to hold yourselves accountable for delivering the campaign on time.
Brand values and business alignment
Special days are also a powerful way to broadcast your brand values. From Pride Week and International Women’s Day to Earth Day and National Human Rights Month, showing your active support can boost brand sentiment.
You can also use special days as a way to plan your corporate social responsibility activities while optimising your marketing.
Joining the conversation
There is a lot of talk in digital marketing about being ‘part of the conversation’, but what exactly is this conversation, and how do you get your business hooked into it?
When it comes to special days, one of the answers is ‘social media hashtags’. If you didn’t already know, hashtags are those keywords, preceded by the # symbol, that often show up in blue on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other popular social media platforms. If social media were a continuously updating book, then hashtags would be its index. By clicking on a hashtag, the viewer can see a feed filtered by brands and individuals using that keyword.
Every awareness day will have its own set of hashtags. These can vary year by year, so be sure to research the current ones for the day you’re interested in. For example, February’s London Fashion Week is using the hashtag #FashionAwards.
Don’t miss the opportunity to join a wider conversation with your posts
What content can be planned?
It is common for a newsletter to be the heart of the content strategy, because due to GDPR we are required to dictate how often we will be in touch with our audience, which means we have deadlines to meet.
Let’s assume our readers have signed up for a monthly newsletter, we now have a 4-week cycle to define and gather the pieces of the newsletter puzzle every single month.
So we plot our newsletter into the planner, against a special days theme (strawberries in June, pumpkins in October) and then begin to plan the blog articles, events, product offers and introduction to be completed in the cycle in between each one.
With a little creativity and planning, it is perfectly possible to line this content up well in advance that will feel totally relevant to your audience and the time of year.
Blog content is a great example because it requires either time or resource, and often multiple heads. For example in week one we may need to do keyword research, week two: write copy, week three: source images and publish, all in time for the newsletter to go out in week 4.
Great content that is visible and hooks readers to engage with your brand isn’t created quickly, it requires thought, time and quality resource.
Creating new digital things can lead to a need for new website structures, template designs or new products and services, so again this needs factoring in, laying out changes in advance give everyone in the team time to plan and organise.
Advertising / PR / Marketing campaigns
The seasons change the way we think and buy, bobble hat in June? Unlikely (even though it would be half the price), however its essential when that cool nip catches us in Autumn.
The products we promote must be in line with the collective feeling for the time of the year or special day we are communicating. Therefore we should keep an eye on all our compaigns and line them up accordingly too.
Social media posts
Commonly used, the concept of a social media content calendar is pretty simple: a calendar broken down into weekly or daily slots into which your upcoming social media posts are scheduled.
With social media, there is a connection between engagement (people liking, sharing and commenting on your social media posts) and reach (the number of people who actually get to see your content).
Every social media platform is different but they all include algorithms which reward engagement with reach.
Whether you’re posting links to mind-blowing articles or just sharing inspirational quotes or silly memes, the goal of your social media activity should always be to maximise engagement.
How do you do this?
As explained by Hootsuite, ‘Consistently showing up in your audience’s feed is the key to engaging them on social.’
Many businesses fail to grasp this and adopt an ‘ad-hoc’ approach to social media posting. Rather than building genuine relationships with people in their social networks, they jump on bandwagons or entice people with a series of fascinating posts before abandoning them for months at a time.
Local events or key business dates
All businesses organise their activities around important dates in the yearly calendar. We are passionate to support local businesses to gain as much visibility with their digital marketing in Devon, but these dates will include a mish-mash of public holidays and local, national, international and industry-specific events (e.g. expos, conferences, campaigns, etc.).
By adding these to your content calendar ahead of time, you can hook your campaigns into these events early and often beat your less well-prepared competitors to online attention.
For example, if you run a car dealership and you know that a major international motor show is coming to the UK in late summer, you can create early buzz in May or June by referencing the event and striking up conversations around it.
By the time the event comes around, you will have built up some serious momentum. You will have engaged in some genuine conversations, gathered audience insight and built up trust, putting you in a much better position to market your cars compared with less organised competitors.
Of course, there will still be the odd occasion where you will want to react to a breaking news event or jump on a fresh campaign but this will be the exception and not the norm.
Ultimately, you want your social media activity to become a series of interconnected campaigns that help carry your story to the widest possible audience.
We have even known businesses to plot operational tasks at the top of their content planners because they have started to use it as their go-to to-do list.
Polish before posting
When you start thinking of newsletters, content, advertising and social media activity as a set of inter-connecting campaigns, you will understand the value of running those campaigns properly.
That means investing time in creating quality assets. A content calendar gives you breathing space to organise this part of the process.
For example, rather than grabbing a few stock pictures and throwing in a couple of sentences, you could hire a graphic designer to create a series of branded images and a copywriter to ensure your writing is persuasive and leads on to a powerful hook.
You can also build in time to run some proper A/B tests and measure real social KPIs instead of relying on your gut feeling about how a campaign performed.
How NOT to use special days
Just because there is at least one special day for every day of the calendar, don’t be tempted to base your entire strategy on them. Not only would that be an inefficient use of your marketing budget, it can also come across as insincere. A brand should never try to be all things to all people, and that includes jumping on every special day bandwagon.
Some special days may be irrelevant or even offensive to your main audience. To use a silly example, a Catholic charity is unlikely to want to embrace Condom Week!
Get started with your Content Calendar
With those simple pointers in place, here is our 7 step guide to setting up your first social media content calendar:
- Audit and simplify your social media. Which platforms do you currently use? What type of content do you produce? Choose two to three social media networks that fit best with your target audience. Decide on a marketing mix that is realistic for your resources and make sure you include visual posts where possible (videos, infographics, animations, etc.)
- Sign up for a social media management platform, download our 2023 template or create your own content calendar.
- Add public holidays, big events and any industry-specific dates into your fresh calendar.
- Decide on a realistic cadence for your posting activity based on your resources. Remember, consistency is the golden rule so it is better to plan weekly posts and stick to it than to post in sporadic flurries.
- Create a content library for your assets. This need only be a shared folder with subfolders marked for images, articles, videos, etc. Decide on a labeling format and stick to it.
- Design a workflow for you and your team. Make sure everyone is clear on their responsibilities and deadlines. Decide who will sign off and schedule the posts.
- Get creative! Look at what events are coming up and start thinking about how you can build a campaign that leads up to and beyond the event. What combination of posts will you put out? How will you ensure they reflect your brand? Do you need to book a videographer or pro photographer?
Use special days the Vu way!
To help you fully appreciate the importance of special days in a marketing plan, book a place on our popular Marketing Plan Workshop. We will work with you on a wide range of practical activities, including building marketing personas, working out a budget and filling in your content calendar.
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