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Marketers have been making the most of public holidays since the birth of advertising. In fact, you can probably trace the first Christmas promotion to a business-savvy innkeeper posting a “room to let” sign in the window of his barn.
That’s because the power of cultural marketing is truly staggering.
I’m not talking about marketing to specific groups of people based on culture and demographic, I’m talking about taking something as broad and relatable as, say, Christmas and New Years, and using it to encourage customer engagement.
We’re all familiar with the spate of festive ads the big brands roll out during the November/December months, perfectly capturing the nation’s excitement with timely precision. And then there’s Valentine’s Day, Easter, et al. But these have, up until more recently, been strictly seasonal, probably because businesses have always had limited tools for reaching out to audiences.
Businesses today, however, are communicating with audiences across multiple digital platforms, always connected, always striving to be relevant, and with such a constant level of connectivity comes a need for new ways to prompt the same kind of customer engagement as you would expect during those standout times of the year.
Incase you didn’t already know, today marks International Coffee Day in the UK. If you’re reading this article on any other date than October 1st, however, it’s more than likely going to be something else entirely.
Obviously you’re not going to see major brands invest huge amounts of advertising spend to capitalise on the occasion — no Coca Cola trucks handing out streaming mugs of coffee to people in the streets (although you can bet the likes of Costa and Starbucks will be!).
What you will see, on the other hand, is social media light up with posts from businesses of every size, across multiple industries celebrating the occasion in the name of marketing and brand awareness.
Participatory holidays have seeped into today’s modern culture — so much so, in fact, that every day in a calendar year is thought to now mark something — increasing alongside the growth of digital media, at the convenience of marketers in need of regular, culturally recognisable content.
In other words, it’s the cultural shifts that drive changes in today’s marketing just as much as technologies do, whether it’s sociological, historical, or so-called ‘popular culture’.
Then again, maybe the two are intrinsically linked. Social media has given rise to a culture entirely of it’s own; where users are the architects of their own content; a generation of boxset bingers and meme artists; and creative, fashionable, finger-on-the-pulse content is the true key to customer engagement. Either way, it’s a perfect marriage that allows modern businesses to get under the skin of their customers – new and existing – and build meaningful relationships.
A fine example of this would be the way International Star Wars Day has gained momentum with both brands and audiences across social media.
Per StarWars.com, May 4th is the worldwide day to say, “May the Force be with you,” and celebrate “the beloved Star Wars story that binds our galaxy together.” Brand and industry relevance is irrelevant, it’s the beating heart underneath that really counts, connecting as people, as opposed to a level that is strictly business and consumer.
It’s a cultural talking point that would never have worked before now, especially for businesses looking to connect with customers and promote their own brand, but the perspective of what constitutes as effective marketing has changed so dramatically (it always has and always will do). That’s why it’s important that modern businesses participate in the dynamic changes in culture, if they want their customers to know who they are, understand their values, and form lasting relationships.
Just as importantly, it shows how digital marketing enables even the smallest businesses to make the most of widely recognised and relatable cultural events, creating content to either connect directly with customers or broaden awareness of their own brand on a potentially phenomenal scale.
Get in touch and tell us all about it.