Is it a date?

Christmas, Easter, Bank Holidays… here we go again. Another list of the same old same old promos, mailers and frankly excruciating puns. Some calendar events are done to death, as everyone jumps on the bandwagon of big days and hopefully big spends. But don’t tear up your year planner just yet. Campaigns and communications around big dates can serve you well if you give them a bit of creative thought and bear your audience in mind.

Take campaign timings. Depending on your messages and targets, working around popular holidays, quiet periods and political, economic, social events or sporting occasions can make a big difference to the amount of time and attention people have for your comms.

Yes, lots of people are out of the office in the school holidays or over Christmas. But on the other hand, when it’s quiet in August, workers who are in the office can have more time to look at their mail and inboxes, and be more open to new ideas or trying out new suppliers.

When Budget Day’s approaching, or the financial year-end, many business and consumer minds turn to cost-saving. Without even mentioning the B-word, you can tap into the zeitgeist by pushing your discounts, deals or special rates.

Taking a more obvious tack, tying in with dates and events can help liven up your day-to-day sales and marketing messages and give them some human interest. You can give people something to think about or amuse them as well as plugging your stuff.

In a light-hearted mood, you can go all out for the crazy and random “It’s national shorts-wearing day, so we’ve got legs on our minds…” to raise a smile. Or you can take a tongue-in-cheek, subversive approach: “Had enough of Valentine’s Day? The new accounting rules are a good antidote to hearts and flowers this week.”

If you’re using online or social media, funny or ironic links like these can work really well. In print, you need to make sure you use a light touch, so you raise a smile, not a groan or cringe. Run everything past colleagues or trusted friends to make sure your sense of humour works for other people too!

Of course the biggest holidays and festivals mean a flood of marketing communications from everyone, so there’s a risk of yours being drowned out. Have a good think about less obvious dates and events to use, so you’ll have the biggest chance of catching your audience’s attention. You could work up campaigns around small competitions, quizzes or offers that use the hook of dates, seasons or events like midsummer’s day, pancake day, election day, or the music festival or party conference seasons.

If you send out newsletters or bulletins, try including a topical section or theming it round current dates and events. That tells your readers that you have something new to say and are all about the real world… even if you do basically want to make more or less the same basic points every time. A different angle each month reinforces your key messages and keeps them interesting.