Super Bowls and Chocolate Hearts: Why Seasonal Marketing Sells

Illustration of a couple on a date and a football player

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It’s unusual for two major seasonal marketing events to occur within two days of one another, but that’s exactly what’s happened this year with the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day.

Overlooking the seasonal marketing potential of these two annual events is a mistake; each one captures the hearts and minds of so many US consumers.  Roughly 100mm people in the United States watch the Super Bowl (out of 334mm). Meanwhile, US consumers are expected to spend $26B on Valentine’s Day in 2023. According to Hallmark, it’s the second biggest greeting card day of the year, with over 145mm Valentine’s Day cards exchanged, not including the kids packaged sets.

They’re big

Even if you haven’t spent $7m on a :30 Super Bowl commercial, or aren’t selling avocados, big screen TVs, or flowers, creating a seasonal marketing campaign is a great way to capture your audience’s attention. The trick for all seasonal programs is to naturally connect your brand to the excitement and sentiment of these events.

Why Seasonal Marketing matters

One effective way to get attention from your target audience is to join a conversation already happening in their mind. So, when you make an offer related to a major seasonal event, you’re entering an existing narrative in their head at a specific time of year that your business might not have otherwise been able to connect with.

Interrupting with Value

Seasonal opportunities with potential customers are like being at a party where you casually join a conversation by adding something related and valuable. You may not have been specifically invited to join in, and your engagement might be a surprise, but your value ensures that any social faux pas is overlooked.

Seasonal Marketing offers create natural deadlines

People, like your customer base, need deadlines. Adding a deadline to create urgency is one of the four quick fixes we recommend to immediately improve the results (and boost sales) of most offers. Yet, many marketers struggle with the idea of creating “false deadlines”, worrying that potential customers won’t respond.

Enter the seasonal offer

Part of what makes the season offer a good idea is that you don’t have to create a “false deadline”. The deadline is set for you (and your prospect) based on the event. Black Friday sales start on that Friday after Thanksgiving and end no later than Cyber Monday.

Super Bowl as a safe seasonal marketing bet

The Super Bowl is the most watched live event in the US annually. Since roughly 1 in 3 Americans will be tuned in, you’re taking an acceptable risk that your prospect will have some sort of at least passing interest in it. Your job is to create a relatable seasonal offer they’re interested in and motivate them to go for the reward in exchange for moving forward toward your set goal.

Super Bowl seasonal marketing example

If you’re a B2B SaaS company, a prospect wouldn’t expect you to make an offer related to the Super Bowl. Yet, when you do, you’re connecting your brand to your ICP’s personal life in a way that can elevate your status.

We’ve used the Super Bowl as a promotional connector multiple times in our history, for both B2B and B2C brands.  For global irrigation manufacturer Rain Bird, we developed and executed a contractor loyalty program that we named Fields of Green. Contractors earned points that they could collect and redeem for a variety of gear. The top prize was a VIP trip to the Super Bowl. Contractors received entries into the sweepstakes based on the number of purchases they made during the campaign period. Year-over-year sales by participating contractors increased by 20%, increasing revenue by $4mm.

Connecting your brand to the big game

Not all Super Bowl programs need to focus on VIP trips, although it can be an enticing bucket list experience for the right ICP.

What do you want to accomplish? If you’re focused on converting high-value accounts, put game tickets, a new flatscreen or team merch in their market in the budget. If you’re looking to gain attention and brand awareness, you can use similar high-end rewards in a sweepstakes giveaway. At different points of the customer journey lower end rewards may be more appropriate to fit in your overall budget.

Consider the customer experience: how do most people engage with the event? Many people have parties with special Super Bowl snacks. They stock up on liquor, buy party goods, upgrade their home entertainment system, put together a scoring pool, and maybe invest in team merch, especially if they’re in a market with a team that’s in the game. If your ICP is marketers, they’ll be all about the best and worst commercials.  

Decide how your brand can align: think about your value proposition and how it aligns with the Super Bowl experience. Is it relatable to what it  take to be a champion or the camaraderie of getting together with friends? When you figure out how to use the Super Bowl experience as an analogy for your brand, you’re on your way to creating a seasonal marketing campaign that your competitors can’t replicate.

February’s other seasonal marketing powerhouse

Valentine’s Day is very different than the Super Bowl. Yet, both are ubiquitous during this particular season. Social media accounts are flooded with hot takes from should we have “Galentine’s Day” to “only rookies go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day”.  Because Valentine’s day content is everywhere during this season, it represents another opportunity to insert your brand into the current mindset of your customer.

Nestle expands seasonal Chocolates

Valentine’s Day retail sales have grown in the 2000s, much like Halloween and Easter. One contributing factor was the explosion of seasonal merchandise, like a program we created for Nestle in the late 90s. At the time, not every brand of chocolate made seasonal packages. Nestle had success with Butterfinger the year before and decided to launch a full line of seasonal chocolates that included Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch, and Turtles.

We were tasked to tie the brands all together into a thematic presentation for sales to present to retail buyers. Like a single collection representing different brands.

Seasonal events satiates the need for novelty

The reason it worked then and continues to work is that people crave newness and novelty. They’re aligned with what’s happening on the calendar. Even though the Reese’s you buy in February are not unlike the ones you buy any other month, you’re drawn to these because they’re in the shape of cute little hearts in February, or Christmas Trees in December or Ghosts in October. They’re just fun, they’re different, and they make us feel connected.

Be seasonally relatable

All seasonal marketing, from Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day to Independence Day and Christmas is about tapping into the mindset.  You don’t need a direct connection. You need to find a creative way to be relatable to your customers.

Valentine’s Day seasonal marketing mindset

Valentine’s Day provides a multitude of ways you can support the holiday.

Send nurture gifts like chocolates to your best prospects. You can get gourmet chocolates, branded chocolates, or specialty ones that relate to your product or service.

Make your prospect’s personal life better with an Ultimate Valentine’s Day experience with their loved one, like a bucket list VIP dinner at a chef’s table or exclusive night out. You can show you’re attentive by offering to send flowers to their loved one to demonstrate your attentiveness to personalization.

Offer a seasonal reward that your ICP covets

To make seasonal campaigns around a holiday or event work, tie the reward to your value proposition. Then offer something that your prospect covets, or something that would make their life better in this moment.

Ensure that your ask is consistent with the reward. You can use sweepstakes rewards at the top of the funnel where you’re looking to drive awareness. Offer premiums or gifts with purchase at the middle and bottom of the funnel when you’re driving revenue.

Create a seasonal marketing strategy

It’s too late for this holiday season—all the Valentine’s day candy will be on sale by tomorrow. But you can look ahead for the next seasonal opportunity. Then, tap into your prospects mindset to connect with your brand.

Reach out for support

If you would like some expert support in building and execution seasonal promotions like these, schedule a call with us.

Legal Note: Because the term “Super Bowl” is the property of the NFL, it cannot be used for commercial purposes without Sponsorship rights. A sweepstakes attorney can advise you of how to approach this conundrum associated with the promotion of the Big Game.

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