It’s something that big corporations do as a matter of course. Whether it’s Carlsberg at Easter, Audi at the Superbowl or M&S at Christmas. Even Ann Sumners are at it on Valentine’s Day. Latching onto national events is a marketing standard and you don’t have to be one of the big players to take advantage of them.

There are caveats, of course, for instance using the Fifa World Cup to promote your product can cause problems if not done prudently, even leading in some cases to a law suit. The reason is that big companies have paid lots of money to attach their brand name to the event and aren’t too keen on those getting a free ride. But there are ways you can use these kind of events to engage with your consumers.

National Holidays

Let’s start with marketing holidays such as Christmas or Easter, Thanks Giving in America or any other special day across the world. These are a gift to ecommerce businesses giving them something to tailor their marketing around and prepare for in advance. It’s not just local holidays that matter. Each year global businesses such as MacDonalds and BMW use the Chinese New Year to implement bold advertising and marketing initiatives. If your ecommerce business is reaching all corners of the globe, then brushing up on special dates for different countries is a must.

You don’t have to go for the standard national holidays either. Take a look at social media on any given day and there are some weird and wonderful national awareness days that can give you something novel and entertaining to engage with. There are more serious ones such as National Women’s Day or something a little off the wall like National Cheese Day. They’re the kind of thing that hashtags were invented for. While national events such as Christmas can let you plan, these on the other hand often require quick responses and a good deal of ingenuity. You can prepare better by seeking out all the awareness days that have a link to your brand.

Sporting Events

You do have to be careful when attaching your brand to world or national sporting events. Making overt connections with the competition are normally best avoided but that doesn’t stop you getting into the spirit of things. For instance, putting the national flag on your website or changing your colour scheme to celebrate the occasion can send a message to consumers that you are on the team. If you can react quickly then engaging with fans during matches and commenting with hashtags can also add some power to your marketing activities though you have to be careful about pushing products that will certainly annoy more people who are enjoying the match.

While you need to play it safe, there are plenty of ways to engage during a major sporting event without getting on the wrong side of sponsorship rules and trademark infringements.

Breaking News

Having a marketing strategy for breaking or ongoing news can also help you reach a wider audience. While there has been much talk about the EU referendum recently, there are also, other, less controversial things to connect your brand to. It all depends on who your customers are and what areas are important to them. If you sell flags then the recent Scottish referendum would have been a great opportunity to sell to patriotic Scotsmen and women. A royal occasion is brilliant for those who produce specialist mugs or other commemorative products.

How to Develop a Strategy for Using National Events

First of all, get your strategy and plan together as soon as possible. If you take something like Christmas, many big companies start developing their plan as soon as the festivities are over in the New Year.

Most SMEs have a limited budget so choosing the right events in the first place is important. Whether it’s Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, the World Cup or the Grand National, making sure your brand has a strong connection to the event is one of the first things to consider.

Build up a list of pertinent events that you can leverage for marketing purposes and put them into a timeline so you know where you need to start your marketing campaign and finish. You also need to decide how you are going to engage, in a preplanned way such as for Christmas, or in a reactive way, say on social media, for something like Black Awareness Week or Earth Day.

There will be varying degrees of engagement depending on the events you choose and you should also ensure that your marketing messages don’t become confused and overlap. There may be one off events coming up in the next year which you want to take advantage of and you’ll want to clear enough space to make good use of them.

The main thing you have to determine is what your approach is going to be. Some good success can be had from running a competition, something that has benefited many businesses operating in China recently, particularly during the New Year. McDonalds often get customers to send in videos on channels such as Weibo and Whatsapp creating a lot of sharing and engagement on social media.

For SMEs and ecommerce businesses, utilising the power of social media is important because it gives a chance to engage on a wider scale. It is also the low cost option and has the capacity to handle a wide variety of media from links to website content, videos and images, giving the opportunity for consumers to respond and share.

There’s the old adage that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and this is particularly pertinent to national events. Armed with your list of national event marketing campaigns, you will be able to reach out at a local, national and international level. Getting the building blocks and strategy in place in good time is key to success, as is picking the right events to latch onto in the first place. Get it right and you could see an improvement in website visits and a boost in sales.

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With a background in design, I started my career working in various UK based start ups. Branding, social media campaigns and digital design were my main strengths. Then, I dived into the business side of things. I am now a key researcher and creative content writer at CompanyFormations 24.7.