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Make Big Bucks on Small Holidays

From Linda Doell:

Using little-known holidays, like National Grandparents Day or National Watermelon Day, can help attract new and loyal customers. …

Make Big Bucks on Small Holidays

As a small-business owner, you want to make sure you get as much return as possible from your precious advertising dollars. To do so, how about creating a marketing campaign around National Senior Citizens Day (Aug. 21), National Dog Day (Aug. 26), National Peanut Day (Sept. 13), World Teachers’ Day (Oct. 5) or National Doughnut Day (June 1)?

Wait, you’ve never heard of these holidays? Chances are your customers haven’t either, which will help your business get their attention. Before dismissing the odd holiday in favor of joining the masses advertising at the year-end holiday season, let’s look at 10 ways small businesses can use minor and obscure holidays and observances to get more from their marketing.

1. Stand out from the crowd. Instead of being one of many business who mainly advertise during the end-of-year holiday season, pick one or more of the minor holidays and stage promotions on that day.

“Big corporations dominate the marketing outlets during the major holidays, so it’s tough for the smaller businesses to get attention,” says former advertising executive Leigh Anne Sperry of Pennsylvania. “However, if they’ve been working on building a strong customer base during the other parts of the year, then they just might beat the larger competitors because they’ve taken the time to build brand loyalty.”

2. Make it work for you. Whatever the holiday is make it work for you, says Nancy Neal, who owns Nancy’s Pantry Corner in Florida. On National Grandparents’ Day (Sept. 9), for example, she suggests sending out reminders to customers via e-mail or social media to pick up their loved one’s favorite treat.

3. Be cost effective. Advertising can be more affordable around non-major holiday times with small businesses teaming up and splitting costs. Neal says she joined other businesses to have rack cards printed up and placed around the community. Another group of businesses teamed up to advertise at the local movie theater.

4. Start a buzz. The more odd the national holiday, the more people will talk about it and the more publicity your business will generate. 

5. Extend the experience. Once a promotion has brought new customers into your business, you’re work isn’t done. This is where you get to show off the quality of your products and how customers can best use them.

Neal, who sells homemade jams, jellies and honey, stages her products with complementary items so customers are already thinking of how to use the items before they’re even bought.

6. Strengthen existing customer ties. Customer loyalty is key in building your business’ brand and will ultimately boost the bottom line with repeat sales. Create “shopping lists” for existing customers that showcase your products and send it to them via social media or e-mail—keep a connection with them that will have the consumers coming back for more.

7. Offer package deals. Pair products together that would be naturally bought together and offer them at a sale price to attract consumers. Neal routinely puts gift baskets together for sale: one item she calls “party in a bag” that features her salsas and mustards with tortilla chips and pretzels.

8. Hold a contest. Leading up to the holiday, ask customers how they would celebrate the day and get them to post their answers on your website or Facebook page. Give prizes out to customers for the most creative way to celebrate the holiday. 

9. Give something away. Have a special promotion where the first five customers who mention the holiday in your store will win something from your business. “Giveaways are part of marketing,” Neal says, adding that a business should anticipate having giveaways as a regular part of its business.

10. Get media attention. Your promotion could garner the attention of local news media, especially if the holiday is a little-known one—like National Watermelon Day (Aug. 3). This helps get the business brand out before more people and potential customers.

Linda Doell is an award-winning journalist with more than more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, editor and blogger. Linda blogs via

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