How to use public holidays to market your small business

How to use public holidays to market your small business

Posted: Wed 27th Sep 2023

As a small business, you have so many opportunities to harness the power of public holidays and use them in your marketing. And the great news is, a lot of those opportunities won't cost you much at all.

The trick to taking full advantage of public holidays is to produce an effective public holiday marketing campaign. And this typically has three elements to it: it's about proper planning, enticing potential customers with unique and attractive offers, and tracking the performance of your marketing activities with measurable goals and KPIs.

In this blog, Enterprise Nation adviser Emma Goode joins us as we explore each of these elements in detail, so your small business can get creative, experiment, and begin to see the full benefits of a good public holiday marketing strategy.

Planning the campaign

Ultimately, you can't plan early enough. If you can plan your campaign two months in advance, that's great. You don't have to post two months ahead, but if you can start thinking about your campaign two months before it's due to launch, you'll see the benefits later.

It means that you know what's going to happen in week eight, week seven, week six, and so on. Emma explains:

"When running a campaign, many business owners focus on what they're doing while the campaign's ongoing. Sometimes, however, that means neglecting the preparation before, and the follow-up after. So start planning early."

The purpose of the campaign

Holiday marketing ideas will hopefully come easily. But first of all, you need to stop and consider what your campaign actually is.

  • Is it an offer, a discount, a competition or a voucher system, for example? Or are you just going to send something to your existing customers?

  • Will it involve email? Printed direct mail?

  • Are you going to advertise in any local press? Will you feature on the radio?

  • Are you going to get PR?

Think about what's going to happen each week. And really consider what you want your holiday marketing efforts to deliver to the bottom line.

As Emma says:

"If you're a service based business, it might be more conversations or a bigger pipeline of customers. If you're a product-based business, it might be more sales based on a unique discount code, for example. The more concrete your idea can be, the better results you'll get."

Work out:

  • what touchpoints you're going to include

  • how often you're going to post

  • what channels you'll post on

  • your campaign's main objective

The need for a community

There's nothing worse than spending huge amounts of time and effort on a campaign and getting just two sets of eyes on it. And with the way that organic traffic and search engine algorithms work these days, that's unfortunately more of a reality than not.

Emma has some advice:

"To avoid this, make sure you have a fairly sizable community to target with your campaign. This target market doesn't have to be thousands of people, but you need followers who are going to engage with your posts.

That engagement might involve commenting on a post or taking advantage of a special discount, for example. Whatever it is, you need eyeballs on it."

The average conversion rate for any digital marketing across all industries is about 1%–3%. That means if 10,000 people see something of yours – on your social media or your website, for instance – only 100 are going to take action. And those numbers might not be what you need.

But if you work based on that conversion rate, that gives you a good idea of how many people need to see your campaign and how many people will engage with your marketing. Armed with that information, you can assess which social channels are driving you better or worse results.

User-generated content

User-generated content (or UGC) campaigns are a brilliant way of getting your community engaged. Essentially, it's all about getting your customer base to create content for you, that you can then reuse (with their permission).

If you run a restaurant, for example, you could ask diners to take a photo of their meal and upload it to your Facebook page or tag you in Instagram.

UGC goes hand in hand with campaign-driven marketing. It's a really effective way of building up your social media asset library. Your customers get the opportunity to perhaps win a competition or receive some kind of offer. And it's a great way to build a buzz around your business and brand.

Combining offline and online marketing

Emma explains:

"Offline and online can work really well together in a campaign. Say you have an upcoming event which you're marketing online. You could produce a postcard or a flyer with a unique lead magnet (an offer or a download, for example) that you'll hand out to attendees.

"After the event, you can track how many people have downloaded or taken advantage of the offer, and get in touch with them. Postcards and flyers are very cost-effective ways of doing this."

For an event like Valentine's Day, for example, you could create heart-shaped postcards and send them to your customers along with some heart-shaped chocolate.

By including a unique link on the postcard, you can later track how many people took advantage of your offer. Your customers get some free chocolate to eat, which is never a bad thing. And you can promote the campaign on your social media marketing channels. So you have three things working in harmony.

Not spreading yourself too thin

With any public holiday promotions – whether for Black Friday, Valentine's Day, bank holidays and so on – think about what's achievable and realistic for you.

Emma recommends:

"You might want to do it all – radio, social media, blogging, a competition. But consider what you can actually achieve. The more channels you post on, the more content you need. And if you're running a business as a side hustle alongside your day-to-day job, you likely won't have the time.

"So either seek support from someone outside the business, or trim back what you're going to do so that each bit of your campaign is perfectly executed. It'll give you confidence for the next one."

Deciding what you're offering – "what's in it for them?"

You must be clear on why you're running this campaign and what's in it for your target audience. If Valentine's Day comes around and you simply post, "Hey everyone, it's Valentine's Day!", no-one will care. But if you set up a special discount or offer, that's when people start to engage.

Social media contests or competitions are a great way of building up your email marketing list, encouraging engagement or generating UGC. And they won't cost you too much. There are lots of free tools you can use to manage your competitions, such as KingSumo Giveaways. They help you administer everything and amplify your message in the process.

Who is the campaign aimed at?

Think about who your offer is going to. For instance, is your target audience:

Emma says:

"Will you create a special group on one of your social media platforms, or a special area for your VIPs to access? The way that social media and community building is going, 'VIP clubs' will become more and more prominent.

"Essentially, they're dedicated communities of people who are super fans of you and your business. So your campaign should provide something that's really beneficial to them."

What will make this campaign a success?

Setting a conversion goal

To give you confidence that your efforts are being rewarded, you need to set goals. This way, you can track what worked and what didn't, so you can apply what you've learned to the next campaign. So consider your conversion goal.

  • Is it to get X number of new subscribers within the period in which the campaign runs?

  • Is it to generate a certain number of online sales?

  • Is it to increase your VIP club of special members by a certain percentage?

By setting such a goal, you'll be able to work backwards and know how many people your holiday messages need to reach based on the 1%–3% conversion rate mentioned earlier.

Creating unique landing pages

Think about whether you need a new asset on your website. That might be a landing page, for example. If you're running a special offer, you'll want a landing page that specifically shows people the unique code or the unique product available. You can send people directly to that page via any advertising campaigns or organic social media posts.

Setting up tracking

Tracking will show you how many people:

  • saw your campaign

  • used your hashtag

  • landed on your landing page

  • used your unique code, and/or

  • bought something from you

As Emma explains:

"If you start getting into the habit of running regular campaigns, the tracking will help you understand which holiday campaigns have been the most successful, and how you can start dedicating some budget to paid ads as well.

"Even a few pounds a day on Facebook or Google Ads, for example, can have a significant effect on the number of people who see your campaign. And that could be the difference between you making an excellent number of holiday sales, or not selling a thing!"


With all your campaigns, test, test and test again before you launch. Pretend you're a customer and go through every single step of the process. You really want to avoid going live with a campaign and finding out the mechanics at the back end of your website don't work.

Follow-up emails are really important as well, and these usually take the form of email campaigns. If you find people who haven't converted within the campaign period, you could run an "unopened email" campaign and send everyone who didn't open your original email a second message.

For the people who put your product in their basket but didn't check out and buy it, you could send an "abandoned cart email" to encourage them to return and complete their purchase.


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