How To Plan Your Blog Around Holidays and Seasonal Events
You need to think like a media company.
Every Christmas I’ll spend at least one evening with my mom watching the Hallmark Channel. She loves those made-for-tv Christmas movies that always seem to echo Scrooge-like characters!
And every year, the commercial breaks are filled with 30 and 60 second spots playing off the fact that they know I’m watching a Christmas movie right around Christmas.
- Commercials about what a great Christmas gift a new car would be.
- Commercials for Hershey’s Kisses to fill your stockings.
- Commercials with the Budweiser Clydesdales hauling a Christmas tree.
And, like any great ad campaign, the effectiveness of these ads is increased due to the timing and relevance. While any of the other Clydesdale commercials would be nice (remember the one with the puppy?), the choice to play off of the Christmas season during that time works incredibly well. Those ads resonate better with their audience, making the ad more effective and, of course, leading to more consumer interest and sales.
I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you didn’t know at some level already, but here’s the thing:
Audi and Hershey and Budweiser did not decide on December 12th that they ought to have a Christmas-themed ad for the season. Those were planned, budgeted, produced and scheduled months in advance.
And if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s that lack of planning and foresight which prevents most of us from taking advantage of the same holidays and seasons.
Whether you’re creating a 30-second TV spot or a blog post, a Facebook story or a tweet, you have opportunities throughout the year to plan ahead and create your content, and advertising, and overall message so that it will resonate with whatever season they’re heard in.
You have opportunities to give your audience greater context and relevance which will, simultaneously, make your overall marketing stronger.
So how do you do all that?
First, you need to map out what the coming year will look like and determine which holidays, seasons or other events will work best with your business and brand messaging.
Second, you need to document what each event campaign is going to look like, and then begin preparations with enough lead time to get everything done.
To help you do all of that, I’ve created a free set of calendars and worksheets which I’ll get to in a moment, so don’t miss those. But before we do, we can go into those two steps in more detail.
It’s also worth noting that these techniques are suitable for anybody. For any blog or business. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a 100+ employee enterprise, you can plan ahead and map out campaigns that leverage these events. The campaigns themselves, and their frequency, will simply scale according to the size of your business and your desired investment.
Looking Ahead To Each Year’s Events
As you begin to think about the specific holidays, seasons and events, you need to think about “Brand Fit.”
- Does it make sense to be talking about your brand in relation to that event?
- Does the majority of your audience relate to that event?
- How does this event fall on the calendar in relationship to other events & campaigns?
You will likely need to make several passes through your list of events to determine which ones are suitable campaign candidates, and of those, which ones are far enough apart to give you time to work on each. We’ll talk about what those campaigns might look like in the next section.
Events might be a single day or a period of time. They might fall on the same calendar date each year or move around. They might also be local or even specific to you or your business! (For instance, some businesses celebrate their anniversary with an annual sale.)
Every year is filled with holidays - major holidays as well as minor ones (like, National Sibling Day) - and those can vary depending on the country, region or religion.
It’s likely that there are at least a few major or minor holidays that you would do well to incorporate into your marketing plan.
Seasons can, of course, refer to the weather seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, and if your business & audience can relate to those, by all means use them.
But seasons can also refer to periods of time like Tax Season or Back To School. Other examples include Summer Vacation, Christmas Shopping, or Spring Break.
Days of Recognition
While it’s unlikely that you’ll want to plan an entire marketing campaign around, say, National Coffee Day, there are many that might make for fun social media or email activity!
Make a note of any that resonate with your business & audience so that you can anticipate them accordingly.
World Series. Super Bowl. Kentucky Derby. Throughout the year there are major sporting events that have local, national and sometimes global audiences. If it makes sense, use those!
State & National Events
These might include political events like Voting Day or Inauguration Day, as well as important dates such as Tax Filing Day, 9/11, or other dates of historical significance.
Note that while you would never want to create a marketing campaign around the memorial date of a past tragedy, you should be mindful of the date and plan your social messaging accordingly.
If your business is a local one, don’t forget about local events! Festivals, charities, school calendars, sports, anniversaries and more.
When your business first launched is an obvious example of a business event, but perhaps you have others? The founder’s birthday. The launch of a key product.
You can also look ahead toward business achievements and milestones, like getting to a certain number of customers. If it’s an impressive number, that’s something to talk about, which means you need to plan for it!
Once you’ve thought about and noted all of the events throughout the year that you want to plan for, it’s time to start creating campaigns.
Planning Event Campaigns
The first determination for each campaign is to decide the scope. Is this campaign going to be a series of social media posts, or a full-on marketing push with blog content and advertising?
The second determination for each campaign is when it will start and end. Some single-day events will have activity on that day only (i.e. a post about National Coffee Day), whereas others will require a more lengthy ramp-up.
Pro Tip: It’s worth noting that if your business is one that’s leveraging Pinterest - meaning, your target audience is using Pinterest to make plans of their own - you need to have your seasonal content pinned months in advance. People are planning now for holidays that are still weeks and months out. For instance, I used Pinterest to plan how I was going to decorate my front porch for Christmas in 2016. We hadn’t done very much in past years and I wanted to change that. I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and started pinning wonderful ideas and lists of things to do to make your porch look spectacular. And I started in October so that we could figure everything out and buy what we needed by mid-November!
My Christmas decorations board on Pinterest.
My finished porch.
The final determination is what the campaign will actually entail. This is where it’s really convenient to have a campaign plan template that you can draw inspiration and guidance from. After a few campaigns you’ll know exactly what your “normal campaign” looks and feels like.
Campaigns might include any of:
- Social Media Activity
- Blog Post(s) or other content
- Paid Advertising (social, search, traditional media)
- Sponsored Content
- Live Video
- Local Activities
And no doubt there are many other activities and promotions you might add to that list.
Each campaign’s set of activities will be weighed against the potential benefits of that campaign. Is this just for fun and some brand recognition, or do you expect to drive a substantial number of business goals (i.e. sales) from this campaign? Or somewhere in between?
You must carefully judge how much time and money you invest in a campaign against the projected results in order to make sure you achieve a positive ROI every time!
Once you have done some initial planning of all your anticipated campaigns, take a step back and review your campaign & event calendar once more. Have you created a nice schedule for the coming year, or have you created potential headaches for yourself? If it looks like some campaigns might be overlapping or too close, adjust as needed until you’re happy with the calendar and plan.
With your coming year’s campaigns planned out, you can now relax with a glass of wine and leave the campaign execution for another day!
Free Downloadable Calendars & Worksheets!
I promised you calendars and worksheets to make all of this a snap, and here they are! Four different calendars to help you think about all of the year’s events, plus a Campaign Planner that you can print out for each of your campaigns!
- 2018 Holiday Calendar
- 2018 Seasonal / Event Calendar
- 2018 Major Sporting Event Calendar
- 2018 Blank Calendar
- Campaign Planner
Each of the first three calendars include all of the major holidays, seasons and events. The fourth calendar is blank so that you can easily record any local or business events, as well as any other holidays or seasons I might have missed (please forgive my Christian / U.S. bias!). And all of the pages are designed to work perfectly with your 2018 Blogging Planner!
Click here to have these worksheets emailed to you for free, and get started on planning your 2018 event messaging!
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By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, award-winning Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."Follow @Mike_Allton