Everyday is a Holiday: Are You Making the Most of Marketing Obscure Holidays?

obscure holidays

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For many retailers, being outside the Christmas holiday shopping season means slower sales.

Yes, there are other major holidays including Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But is that all your retail store has to look forward to? Not if you take advantage of the many other obscure holidays and weird national holidays that can be tied to retail specials and sales.

I recently learned about Singles’ Day, a Chinese holiday that got its start in the 1990s when a group of young male college students decided to create a special day to celebrate their freedom in response to Valentine’s Day.

The concept caught on, and in back in 2009, online marketplace Alibaba decided to launch a Singles’ Day sale. Since then, Singles’ Day sales have grown. They had reached $9.3 billion by 2014, according to MarketWatch. The equivalent of Black Friday in the United States, Singles’ Day means flash sales, super discounts and plenty of buying for consumers in China and other markets Alibaba serves.

Alibaba didn’t create Singles’ Day. But the retailer took advantage of the concept to implement some smart marketing for one of the more obscure holidays. Along the same lines, Amazon has seen success with sales on Prime Day, an obscure holiday it created.

Can your retail store enjoy the same success by marketing around obscure holidays or weird national holidays or even creating an entirely new holiday? There are lots to choose from, just look at our national days calendar!

Tips for Marketing Obscure Holidays

marketing obscure holidays

In a world where every business jumps on the bandwagon of major holidays, there lies a golden opportunity to stand out and shine: marketing obscure holidays!

These lesser-known occasions can be the key to refreshing your marketing strategy, connecting with your customers in unique ways, and even boosting sales during traditionally slow periods.

Think Outside the Box

marketing obscure holidays

Sales based around national holidays like Presidents’ Day are old hat. Try getting a bit more creative by tying your sales and promotions to not-so-popular holidays. For example, a florist could have a sale on Arbor Day. Does your store have international ties? Think globally. For example, a French bakery could have special events or sales on Bastille Day.

Research Unusual Holidays

There are so many quirky holidays that you can find more than one for every day of the year (and every type of retail business). February is full of these types of holiday — there’s Chocolate Mint Day and Sticky Bun Day—which are good news for candy stores and bakeries.

Did you know that February is Birdwatching Month as well as Bake for Family Fun Month? Check out these unusual holidays for these celebrations and others.

Look for a holiday that relates to your retail store, your target market and the product line you’re trying to push. Unless, that is, your brand is “wacky” — then you can pick one of the weird national holidays that’s completely off the wall.

Embrace Community Collaboration

Reach out to other local businesses and see if they’re interested in cross-promotions or joint events around a unique holiday. This not only widens your potential audience but also fosters a sense of community. If it’s “World Juggling Day”, a toy store could collaborate with a local gym or park to host a juggling event.

Engage Staff Actively

Get your employees involved and excited. Maybe they wear themed costumes, or they share facts about the holiday with customers. Their enthusiasm will be contagious, and customers will appreciate the added touch of personality to their shopping experience.

Time it Right

Hold your holiday events and sales during traditionally slow times of the year to get more customers into your store and boost sales. You can also use off-the-wall holidays to rid the store of slow-moving merchandise ahead of a new season.

For example, a home-goods store could move winter bedding by celebrating Napping Day (that’s March 14, just in case you’re curious.

Put Your Own Spin On It

Don’t just hold a generic sale tied to a month. Get creative with special events or giveaways as well as discounts.

For example, a cookware retailer with an older clientele could create Bake for Family Fun Month promotions that emphasize the enjoyment of teaching grandchildren how to bake. A bakery could promote the same holiday with take-and-bake desserts or “decorate your own” cookies.

Leverage User-Generated Content

marketing obscure holidays

Encourage your customers to share how they’re celebrating the obscure holiday with your product using a specific hashtag. This not only boosts your online visibility but also builds community around your brand.

Here are the type of things you could do:

  • Hashtag Campaigns: Initiate a specific hashtag related to the obscure holiday and your brand. This makes it easier to track posts and reshare them.
  • Photo Contests: Ask customers to post photos celebrating the holiday using your product. Offer prizes for the most creative or popular entries.
  • Testimonial Requests: Encourage patrons to share their experiences during the holiday. This not only creates UGC but also builds trust with prospective customers.
  • Interactive Polls/Stories: Use platforms like Instagram or Facebook to create interactive stories where customers can vote, answer questions, or give feedback about your obscure holiday campaign.
  • Feature Customer Content: Dedicate a section of your website or a wall in your physical store to display customer posts and photos. This acknowledges their contribution and encourages more participation.
  • Collaborative Videos: Use platforms like TikTok or YouTube to encourage customers to make short videos using your products during the holiday. They could be tutorials, reviews, or fun skits.
  • UGC Challenges: Create a challenge related to the holiday and your product. Ask customers to participate, with the best entries getting featured or winning rewards.
  • Engagement Boosters: Comment, like, and interact with the posts your customers share. This boosts their visibility and strengthens customer relationships.
  • Collate and Share: At the end of the day or week, share a compilation of the best UGC across your official platforms, celebrating the community spirit.

Flash Sales and Hourly Deals

For that particular day, introduce flash sales or hourly deals, encouraging customers to visit your store or website throughout the day. This tactic can create urgency and excitement.

Pop-Up Locations

Consider setting up a temporary stall or pop-up shop in a high-footfall area for the day. This can attract a new audience and bring awareness to the obscure holiday and your brand.

Tie in Charitable Activities

Align the obscure holiday with a charitable cause. For instance, on “Hug a Tree Day”, a business could pledge to donate a certain amount to local environmental organizations for every product sold.

Interactive Window Displays and In-Store Experiences

Your storefront is your first impression. Create an eye-catching window display relevant to the holiday. For “Umbrella Day”, a clothing store might have a rainy scene with all their waterproof merchandise on display.

Creating Immersive In-Store Experiences

Themed Decor and Ambience: Transform your physical store to reflect the theme of the obscure holiday. This could involve changing the store’s decor, playing thematic music, or even altering the lighting to create an immersive experience for your customers. For example, for “International Talk Like a Pirate Day,” consider a pirate-themed decor complete with flags, treasure chests, and staff dressed in pirate attire.

Interactive In-store Activities: Host in-store activities or mini-events that align with the obscure holiday. This could include workshops, games, product demonstrations, or meet-and-greets. These activities not only draw customers into your store but also provide them with a memorable and engaging shopping experience.

Offer Special Edition Products

marketing obscure holidays

Just for the holiday, introduce a limited-time product or service. Coffee shops could offer a special blend for “Coffee Day” or a bakery might introduce a new pastry for “Pecan Pie Day”. The limited availability can drive demand.

Recycle and Repurpose

If you’ve had successful promotions for other events or holidays, consider how you can tweak and repurpose those ideas for an obscure holiday. This can save time and resources while delivering a tried-and-tested strategy to your audience.

Invite Local Influencers

Engage with local bloggers, YouTubers, or social media personalities. Inviting them to celebrate the obscure holiday at your establishment can boost your visibility. For “World Pasta Day”, a restaurant could invite food bloggers for a special tasting.

Promote it Everywhere

marketing obscure holidays

Get customers hyped up about your upcoming holiday events and sales by marketing them on all of your advertising channels, including (especially) social media. Encourage people to share your social media posts and get others involved and interested.

Generate interaction by having customers post pictures or create videos of how they celebrate this holiday. (Note to pet store owners: Puppy Day is March 23.).

Leveraging Omni-Channel Marketing Strategies

Consistent Messaging Across Channels: Ensure that your promotional messages for the obscure holiday are consistent across all marketing channels, including your website, social media, email campaigns, and in-store promotions. This unified approach reinforces your message and creates a cohesive brand experience for your customers.

Utilizing Online Advertising: Take advantage of online advertising platforms like Google Ads or social media ads to target specific demographics and interests related to the obscure holiday. Tailored ads can effectively drive traffic to your website or physical store, capitalizing on the unique appeal of the holiday.

Local Media Engagement

Local news outlets, blogs, or community bulletins are always looking for unique stories. Reach out to them with your holiday celebration plans, and you might get featured, bringing wider visibility to your business.

Here are some more ideas:

  • Press Releases: Draft compelling press releases about your obscure holiday promotions and send them to local news outlets.
  • Community Spotlights: Many local media outlets have segments or columns dedicated to local businesses. Secure a spot for your special holiday event.
  • Host a Media Event: Invite local media to an exclusive preview or behind-the-scenes look at your holiday preparations.
  • Utilize Local Blogs: Collaborate with popular local bloggers for features, guest posts, or reviews about your holiday offerings.
  • Engage with Community Radio: Offer to give interviews or sponsor segments around the obscure holiday, sharing fun facts or the history behind it.
  • Collaborate on Content: Propose a joint content project with a local media outlet, such as a video feature or a printed holiday guide.

Document and Share

Capture moments from your themed events, sales, or decorations and share them on your platforms. It offers content for your marketing and shows potential customers the fun they’re missing out on.

Analyzing and Learning from Campaign Outcomes

Post-Event Analysis: After the obscure holiday promotion, conduct an analysis to evaluate the success of your marketing efforts. Look at metrics such as sales figures, foot traffic, website visits, social media engagement, and customer feedback. This analysis will provide valuable insights into what worked well and what could be improved for future campaigns.

Customer Feedback and Engagement: Encourage customers to share their experiences and thoughts about your obscure holiday promotions. This feedback can be gathered through surveys, social media interactions, or in-store conversations. Understanding your customers’ perspectives helps tailor future marketing efforts to better meet their needs and preferences.

Celebrating unusual holidays or weird national holidays with special promotions is a smart marketing tactic that can also be a lot of fun.

Maximizing Digital Marketing Efforts for Obscure Holidays

Leveraging Social Media Trends

Utilize social media platforms to capitalize on current trends related to obscure holidays. Create themed posts, use relevant hashtags, and engage with trending topics to increase your visibility and reach a broader audience. Social media trends can often align with obscure holidays, presenting an opportunity for creative and timely marketing campaigns.

Email Marketing with a Twist

Send out newsletters or promotional emails that highlight the unique aspects of these lesser-known holidays. Personalize your emails with holiday-specific themes and offers, making your messages stand out in your customers’ inboxes. For instance, an email campaign for “National Pi Day” (March 14) could include special deals on pies or math-related products, depending on your business niche.

Marketing Obscure Holidays Checklist

StrategyConsidered or Tried?
Think Outside the Box?
Research Unusual Holidays?
Embrace Community Collaboration?
Engage Staff Actively?
Time it Right?
Put Your Own Spin On It?
Leverage User-Generated Content?
Flash Sales and Hourly Deals?
Pop-Up Locations?
Tie in Charitable Activities?
Interactive Window Displays?
Offer Special Edition Products?
Recycle and Repurpose?
Invite Local Influencers?
Promote it Everywhere?
Local Media Engagement?
Document and Share?


Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.