The Benefits of National Days to Small Businesses

With various twitter hashtags and marketing ploys, there's almost a different occasion everyday. So why not promote your firm and cash in?

The Benefits of National Days to Small Businesses

National Days were once the domain of the USA. Now, as with Valentines and high school proms the UK has recognised the marketing potential and the money pot that can be made from named days in the calendar.

A great example is World Book Day, which first appeared in 1995 and aims to encourage children of all ages to appreciate reading through helping them discover new books and authors whilst providing them with National Book Tokens; which allow children to read certain books for free or to receive a £1 discount on any book/audio book costing over £2.99 at participating bookshops and book clubs.

World Book Day has made the following difference within schools:

  • The proportion of six-year-olds achieving the expected standards in the phonics screening check has risen from 58% to 74%. That is equivalent to 102,000 more children performing more efficiently.

Within the market for booksellers it made an even greater impact;

  • In 2016 World Book Day held the Biggest Book Show on Earth live tour which took 51 authors to 10 major venues, appearing in 17 shows for over 16,500 children.
  • World Book Day successfully distributed more than 14 million £1 book tokens to children (that’s almost one for every child/young person under 18 in the UK and Ireland).

Utilising national reading holidays is an effective way of allowing children to work collaboratively and making reading seem more enjoyable by turning it into a celebration.

How are national days advantageous for marketing?

Sticking with the theme of books, the Literacy Trust’s calendar records over 35 annual celebrations of literacy and reading; meaning there’s a big opportunity all-year-round for businesses to utilise these holidays and market themselves further. The desire to improve and encourage children to read is a backbench for industries within this sector.

In 2016, World Book Day surged the market in the following ways (statistics from The Publisher’s Association):

  • The week of World Book Day increased the UK’s children’s market increased by £1.4m (up 24.7% on the previous week and an increase of £324,423 on 2015).
  • The consumer market increased by 10.7% (2016 vs 2015) from w/e 21 Feb-w/e 21 March.
  • Interestingly, the adult market increased by an incredible £2.4m vs 2015.

How can businesses market for national days?

Everyone loves national holidays, for they provide people with a common cause to rally around and celebrate or attend an event – there’s fifteen in September and that’s just the UK! Knowing how to effectively market to these is key; otherwise your investments will amount to nothing.

Plan ahead:

Remember – not all dates will be related to your niche, so research beforehand to evaluate which suit you best. For content publishers, editorial calendars are a must for monitoring important dates; these can easily be adapted for businesses to record relevant national days; keeping you ahead and allowing enough time to formulate your strategies.


Use social media promotions:

The popularity of social media is undoubtable, and described by Megan Garber, national days have become “the functional equivalents of a hashtag”; meaning you’re missing out considerably if choosing to neglect this powerhouse. Take advantage by monitoring the popularity of relevant days on social media to engage with your customers further. Currently:

  • Facebook has approximately 1.23 billion monthly active users and 757 million daily users.
  • Twitter has 313 million monthly active users.

For example – considering 6 September 2016 is national Read a Book Day, Waterstones recognised knowing how to sell books online is key and therefore decided to take advantage of a trending hashtag to promote some of their most recommended books; this will promote their post higher in under this specific hashtag and therefore increases brand awareness and potentially sales.

Utilise paid search ads

Pay-per-click (PPC) are paid advertising campaigns that allow your business to rank higher on a SERP (search engine results page). Overall, search ads can drive traffic, increase sales and help build brand awareness. (See example of PPC).

According to The Independent, only 10% of British customers did their shopping in store; meaning 90% shopped online and therefore an increase in traffic. For example, although Black Friday is originally an American holiday, it has become one of the retailer’s favourites in the UK also and in 2014, Black Friday generated 66% more traffic in the UK (statistics from Sli Systems). Use PPC on popular holidays to take full advantage of online shopping’s popularly.

Days for a cause

Although there are holidays like National Doughnut Day, Dog Day and Thrift Shop Day (yes, really) there are holidays created for the intended purpose of raising awareness of severe causes and expressing appreciation.

Recently, there has been a rise in days dedicated to health and wellbeing, such as National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day initiated by the American Diabetes Association on 6 May; which encouraged everyone to exercise in any form every 90 minutes. Whether you create a new day or jump the bandwagon of an existing day, you can use a national day to fundraise whilst generating awareness of your brand in a charitable manor.

Awareness is key

Sometimes national days collide with other higher-profile holidays or might conflict with situations happening around the world. For example, tweeting about #NationalCurryWeek (9 – 15 October) when the world is mourning and reflecting upon a recent tragedy is disrespectful and will therefore by viewed in poor taste, creating a negative association towards your brand. Check prior to releasing any scheduled promotions.

Gina Hutchings is a digital marketing consultant at Signature Books

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