How to... Make the most of awareness days

Discover why events like the Queen's Jubilee will be a payday for brands (and why things like this matter so much). 

We’re loving the buzz around the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and really enjoying seeing what the high street is coming up with. The celebration being marked with an extra bank holiday and four days of events, all over the country, means People. Out and about. Spending money. Which, of course, means a big payday for the tourism, hospitality and retail industries. 

Royal events have had a long history of impacting peoples’ spending, with most sectors feeling the benefit. The well-known ‘Kate Effect’ is estimated to be worth £1 billion to the fashion industry, plus landmark events such as births and weddings pack significant punch across the board too. 

But, royalty aside for now, did you know there are over 80 awareness days in the UK calendar? And that isn’t including other awareness events such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Mental Health Awareness Week. Awareness days (or weeks/months) are often set up by businesses and charities to highlight a health condition whilst others aim to bring communities together and highlight something for the common good.

There’s pretty much a day for everything, through culture, charity, travel and education, to health, fashion, food and pets. Each one is a chance to piggyback on the wave of activity that surrounds it, and turn it into some awareness of your own. 

How can I use awareness days in my marketing?

We spoke to Tamsin Glass, a former senior merchandiser at Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, and who now runs her own gallery in the South West. She says, “In sales, you’re always looking for the next thing to help you engage with your audience, and tapping into culture is absolutely essential. With the powerhouse that is social media, capitalising on national and international awareness days has never been easier, and they’re worth working into your strategy when planning your retail activity”.

Here are Tamsin’s top tips for seizing the (brand awareness) day…

1. Get your marketing calendar together

Tamsin says: “I’m a big fan of spontaneity, but save yourself the stress of throwing everything together at the last minute and put a plan together. I’m talking about a marketing calendar plotting all your activity out. 

Once you’ve started inputting, you’ll be able to see how long you’ve got to plan (at Selfidges, we start planning our windows four months before we execute), and whether there are any clashes with your other activity, or other events in the world’s calendar that would mean your efforts go to waste. For example, don’t schedule a speed dating event on the same night as the World Cup final!

You can find a basic calendar online, or you can visit sites like awarenessdays.com or thereisadayforthat.com and scroll through to find what you need.”

2.Tap into behaviour

“There is often a more human, emotional side to awareness days, and if you can hit on that you’ll really resonate with your audience. For example, National No Smoking Day is about quitting smoking, sure, but what goes on around the topic? People giving up smoking can experience symptoms of stress or increased hunger. If you show you can understand the struggle, then you’re onto a winner. 

Think about what people will be doing as a result of the awareness day or holiday - will they be getting together with family? Feasting? Giving gifts? A little research into behaviour and trends will help you design your themes, or adapt your product lines to offer something relevant.”

Read about some simple consumer research techniques

3. Find a theme

“When you’re first starting out in creative merchandising, it’s completely acceptable to keep it simple until you’ve grown in confidence, so don’t over-complicate. An easy way to maintain focus is to give your merchandising a theme, or campaign thought. Of course, when activating around awareness days, you’ll already have a starting point, so plan around that. 

For the Jubilee, there’s the traditional colour scheme you could go with, and all the royalty related visual cues that are everywhere, or you could think outside the box and tell a story, such as ‘afternoon tea’, or ‘royal birthday’...see what you feel fits with your brand and audience.”

Read about Selfidge’s ‘Good Nature’ window concept

Meet the makers of Selfridge’s ‘Summer Awakenings’ window concept

Read about marketing campaigns making a difference to Mental Health Awareness

“Bear in mind that potentially everyone will be jumping on the same visual bandwagon, which I always try to take a lateral leap to give displays some standout. Don’t feel like there are rules to what you put in your displays, and going against the grain can often draw the consumer’s eye.

Read Marketing Week’s round-up of quirky Jubilee brand tie-ups

4. Keep it relevant

“Less is more! It can be tempting to try and hit every awareness day, but ask yourself if they’re genuinely a good fit for you and your brand. If you’re a fashion brand, do you have the right to wade in on health awareness issues, and vice versa? 

Make sure that you can comfortably link what you offer to the awareness event. For example, if you’re selling organic fresh juices, get onboard with Naked Gardening Day (yes, that’s a thing!) to talk about the importance of natural, organic growing. You can have fun with your interpretation, but it has to make sense at a basic level. 

If you activate too many, you also run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and diluting your brand. Make sure you’re leaving enough room in your marketing calendar to get your brand message out there too - it’s important that your audience are clear on what your brand offers, outside of being aligned with multiple causes.”

5. Join the conversation

“Planning your marketing around awareness days is brilliant because you can use the collective momentum to your advantage, so make sure you’re using the official hashtags, and engage with the movement on socials, and in any printed media. If you’re running competitions, or have got any shareable elements to your campaign, make sure that people know how to tag so your visibility is optimised.”

Read Hootsuite’s Ultimate Guide to Choosing Hashtags 2022

Looking for a place to pop up in celebration of events like the Jubilee? Sook provides flexible, book-by-the-hour space in prime locations. Check out our spaces and see what we can do for you.

Read about Sook and The Future of Retail here.

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