Marketing your business can be hard work. Not marketing your business, however, can mean no work. One of the best ways I’ve found to make marketing easier is to key events and sales to major holidays. Retailers are prime examples of folks who know how to work the promotional calendar. They know their customers anticipate seasonal events and holidays as excuses to buy things. Each year, retailers dig up more occasions to celebrate—Columbus Day, Presidents’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Daylight Savings Day—I’ll bet by now that they’ve surpassed the greeting card companies in terms of sheer numbers of events. Smart retailers use the calendar to their advantage. Why don’t you? Grab a 2009 calendar that lists national holidays. Go month by month and pick the holidays that appeal to you and are a natural tie-in to your products. If they lend themselves to neat promotional themes, that’s even better.
It might take some time, but once you have your calendar in place, you won’t have to put a lot of thought into deciding exactly when to hold a sale, or what that sale theme will be. Subsequent years will be pretty much the same, so planning is easy. For example, in order to prepare for a Valentine’s Day direct mail campaign, you’ll need to get most of your materials printed and ready to go by the third week of January and in the mail no later than the first week in February. In the same manner, begin preparing your Mother’s Day campaign in March.
Here’s an example of a promotional calendar for 2009.
January: Sure, there’s New Year’s Day, but there’s also Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday celebration (always a nice combination). It’s a good time to spread your message to nonprofits, as well as organizations looking to record or archive historic events.
February: Valentine’s Day. Launch your marketing messages no later than the third week in January—“Show Your Love With a Video Postcard!” This is also the month when Lincoln and Washington strategically placed their birthdays in order to create the U.S. celebration of Presidents’ Day. This should get you thinking about the “Benjamins.” If your clients are Japanese, you might want to look into the Setsubun bean-throwing festival.
March: St. Patrick’s Day. Put all your DVD and CD copies in green sleeves. Or mark International Women’s Day by offering month-long or week-long product or service discounts to women.
April: Mardi Gras and Easter. Don’t be a fool—add flair to your product packaging this month. Give clients beads or slip a few chocolate eggs into your packaging.
May: Mother’s Day. Launch your marketing messages 6 weeks prior to the holiday. Push transfers, photo-to-DVD transfer services, and video biographies. Also note that many colleges and universities hold graduation ceremonies this month. Market your event video services to them, and while you’re at it, promote video and photo transfer services to schools and parents of graduates.
June: Wedding season. If you do wedding video, you should be working on marketing several months in advance. This is also a big month for graduations. Launch your marketing message at least 3 weeks before the rush hits. And don’t forget Father’s Day. Launch your marketing messages at least 6 weeks before this day.
July: The 4th is Independence Day in the States, which brings to mind red, white, and blue marketing themes. Add a few sparklers or a copy of the U.S. Constitution to your packaging. Believe it or not, this is also when you want to start back-to-school promos. It’s a popular time to find wallets open, especially among teens and parents.
August: Although several countries celebrate their independence this month, there are not a lot of traditional gift-giving days. Continue with back-to-school promos and planning for the year’s final 3 months.
September: Labor Day. How about a “10% off” sale? You should also continue back-to-school marketing messages through the beginning of this month. Grandparents Day, also in September, means transfers, duplications of family videos, and all sorts of great video gifts.
October: Launch your first holiday messages around Oct. 15 and really ramp up starting Nov. 1. Offer current customers an exclusive early-bird holiday special that expires mid-November. This is when you’ll see retailers celebrating Columbus’ birthday. Send out a marketing message to prospects and clients about discovering your newest products and services. Don’t forget Halloween!
November: Thanksgiving. Not a traditional gift-giving occasion, but a good time to thank your current customers, vendors, and employees. Christmas and holiday advertising and marketing should be running full-tilt.
December: Christmas and Hannukah. Both popular gift-giving holidays. Now it’s your turn.
People are always looking for a good excuse to buy. Define what makes your service or product so interesting that they should hand over their money to you instead of someone else. Once you get started, you’ll find many more holidays around which you can build an effective promotional calendar. Years ago, my college roomies and I made a deal to limit our alcohol consumption just to holidays. Believe me, we found plenty of them!
Steve Yankee (syankee at opinmarketing.com) has more than 35 years of video production and marketing experience and is the founder of The Video Business Advisor in East Lansing, Mich.