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How to Properly Use National Days for Advertising

Bennett Conlin
Bennett Conlin

From National Doughnut Day to World Emoji Day to National Leave the Office Early Day, there's no shortage of fake holidays created for marketing purposes. While many of these days have their perks (who doesn't love a day centered around doughnuts?), many of these holidays don't relate to your business. When trying to leverage these holidays, it's important to understand your business's identity and not to force anything.

Using these national days can provide content for your social media marketing team but overusing irrelevant days can make your business look desperate for attention. Your business needs to find days that specifically apply to your operation. There are a handful of days, however, that many small businesses can leverage into new business or positive attention.

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5. National Doughnut Day, first Friday of June

Looking back at 2016's National Doughnut Day, several brands without a direct connection to doughnuts took part in the festivities. This is a day where your business can showcase its voice and identity.

If you have a fun and laid back company culture, do something like Google did by using doughnuts to spell out your brand name. If your organization is more serious, buy your staff doughnuts for the day and post a photo to social media of your team enjoying the food.

Customers want to interact with brands they can connect to. By shining a light on your team, you'll appear more personable, and customers appreciate working with relatable people.

4. National Friendship Day, first Sunday of August

This day is trickier to utilize for marketing than National Doughnut Day. While it's not easy to find a way to relate National Friendship Day to your business, when done correctly, this day can be an incredible opportunity to generate engagement on social media.

You can go the route of Kentucky-based Good Foods Co-Op and use the day to promote your products and get people talking about what you're selling.

Credit: Good Foods Co-Op

Your business can take a page out of an NBA team's playbook and share a photo, video or GIF of the relationships between your staff members. Customers enjoy the chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at the people running your operation.

Credit: New Orleans Pelicans

Petco used the day as a reason to post an adorable photo of a lizard. While this post wasn't designed to directly sell a product, it still encouraged engagement and made use of a day designed for marketing.

Credit: Petco Animal Supplies Inc.

There are endless ways to use National Friendship Day for advertising purposes. With proper planning and execution, this day becomes perfect for generating social media engagement.

3. International Coffee Day, Sept. 29

Much like National Doughnut Day, International Coffee Day offers your business a chance to engage customers regardless of your industry. If your customers ever wait in your store while waiting to complete their purchase, consider offering free coffee on International Coffee Day. You can advertise the promotion on social media to spread the word and draw increased traffic to your store. The small gesture can go a long way toward generating customer loyalty.

In 2014, Charmin got creative on social media and made a somewhat crude joke that got people on social media talking. For a brand that sells something as ordinary as toilet paper, generating engagement isn't easy. With a creative joke on social media, the company generated buzz.

Credit: Procter & Gamble

2. Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving

A huge sales day for retailers, Black Friday signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. With people on the lookout for deals and discounts, major companies like Best Buy slash prices on items in hopes of selling tremendous quantities of products. Many of these major corporations find success on Black Friday, but that doesn't mean your small to medium-sized business can't see a boost in sales.

"I always produce a separate holiday collection released a day or two before Black Friday so people have a sense of urgency in purchasing as much as possible because product supplies are limited," said Misha Kaura, a fashion designer. "For example, I had a 250 percent increase in orders last Black Friday alone partially due to Instagram."

While your smaller business likely won't generate the advertising excitement that a company like Best Buy or Amazon might, you can still offer several discounts on items that may serve as good holiday gifts.

Consider advertising your discounts on social media and stress the value of coming to a local business with smaller crowds. By emphasizing the importance of a more personal touch, you can take advantage of Black Friday and set your business up for our No. 1 national day for advertising.

1. Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving

While Black Friday and Small Business Saturday don't have quite the same made-up feel as a National Friendship Day, the days were still developed solely for marketing purposes. First recognized in 2010 thanks to efforts from American Express, Small Business Saturday gives small businesses a chance to fight back against major companies thriving on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Luckily for businesses, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday don't require you to creatively make a direct connection to the day. If you're a small business, you're immediately connected to Small Business Saturday. To make the most out of the day, businesses should visit the Small Business Saturday website put together by American Express. Visiting this page months in advance will give your business a chance to plan for the event and develop social media campaigns to engage customers and boost sales.

When it comes to adequately taking advantage of national days, there are two major tips brands should keep in mind.

Plan ahead

If you forget and see that tomorrow is National Friendship Day, your business is going to have a tough time putting together a thorough social media campaign to generate engagement in just a day. When it comes to advertising for national days, the planning process should start weeks, if not months in advance.

"I think a big part of being able to generate engagement via social is by planning," said Sophie Duncan, the office manager at Imagine Media Consulting. "Making sure that you have a plan and you know when you're going to post what content."

Duncan, who has a background in journalism and content creation, stressed the importance of brands understanding their identity and leaving adequate time to create advertising campaigns centered around national days.

National Retail Solutions, a company that sells point-of-sale systems, provides their clients with actionable data to help them take better advantage of trends, including those related to national days.

The business provides clients with sales data on trends approximately three to six months in advance of when customers might be more inclined to purchase certain products. By providing the businesses using the POS systems with data and advice on how to handle upcoming holidays or national days months in advance, the businesses are much more prepared to take advantage of those holidays to benefit their business. The organizations can use that data to plan for social media marketing campaigns or to offer different products on a national day or traditional holiday to boost sales.

"We're already now looking at Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Diana Stern, the director of marketing and sales support at National Retail Solutions. "It's a lot about offering the communities we serve the ability to feel connected."

Whether it's a widely celebrated holiday like Thanksgiving or a less traditional celebration like National Doughnut Day, your business needs to plan ahead to create the best advertising campaign. 

Stay focused

It's critical to avoid posting about national days if they have no connection to your business. A pizza parlor tweeting about how customers should grab a slice for National Health Day doesn't make much sense. Posting on days that don't complement your business may turn customers off and reduce engagement. Remain true to your business and find national days that genuinely connect to your organization to include in your marketing plan.

"Just because national days abound doesn't mean they're relevant," said Kelsey DeMarco, an account director at the marketing agency Secret Fort. "Don't just latch on for the sake of social content. Have a strategy. After all, nobody likes the person at the party that just talks to talk." 

Image Credit: retoncy/Shutterstock
Bennett Conlin
Bennett Conlin Member
Bennett is a B2B editorial assistant based in New York City. He graduated from James Madison University in 2018 with a degree in business management. During his time in Harrisonburg he worked extensively with The Breeze, JMU’s student-run newspaper. Bennett also worked at the Shenandoah Valley SBDC, where he helped small businesses with a variety of needs ranging from social media marketing to business plan writing.