2021 Small Business Marketing Calendar: Key Holidays to Plan For [PDF]

Last updated: November 19, 2020 | By Dory LeBlanc

Reading time: 4 minutes

From National Cheeseburger Day to Get to Know Your Customers Day, holidays are the perfect opportunity to have some fun and get creative with your marketing.

Before you bust out the decorations and discounts, consider which holidays best serve the interests of your business and the needs of your customers. For example, National Beer Day can drum up business for a brewery. National Nail Polish Day? Not so much. A marketing calendar can take the stress out of planning by easily identifying these dates and occasions.

Below, you’ll find our 12-month marketing calendar (in monthly and list formats), which highlights the 2021 milestones to plan and prepare for. Download and save it to start your planning for next year.

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When to Prepare for Holidays

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Give yourself plenty of time to work holidays into your marketing schedule and calendar. Generally, you should have a strategy and plan in place at least 1-2 months before the holiday. For bigger shopping holidays, like Black Friday and Christmas, planning time can increase anywhere from 6 months to a year prior.

While the amount of time depends on your business size and marketing bandwidth, always err on the side of planning further in advance so you have flexibility if something unexpected pops up.

It’s helpful to assess your sales, profitability, margins and customer satisfaction after a holiday wraps up. Evaluate what went well or what didn’t to gauge how you can excite and surprise your current and potential customers the next time around.

Key Shopping Dates

small business marketing calendar holidays

While there are many smaller, obscure events to celebrate, such as National Taco Day or National Selfie Day, major consumer shopping dates should be prioritized. Frame your campaigns around these dates first to capitalize on sales opportunities, then work the smaller dates in as you can.

  • January: New Year’s Eve
  • February: Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day
  • April: Easter
  • May: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day
  • June: Father’s Day
  • July: 4th of July
  • July/August: Back to School
  • September: Labor Day
  • October: Halloween
  • November: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday
  • December: Christmas, Hanukkah

How to Use a Marketing Calendar

small business marketing calendar dates

Think of your marketing calendar as a road map to keep you on track over a 12-month period. It should spell out the specific promotions and events you’re planning for each holiday. A marketing calendar can include:

Spread your content across both digital and offline marketing channels. While there are many holidays listed in our calendar, include only what makes sense for your business. A marketing calendar gives you the flexibility and freedom to test and measure your results throughout the campaign or season, so you can make changes as needed.

Design your participation in each holiday so it benefits your current customers and draws in new ones. A social media promotion can get you involved in the more obscure events. Don’t be afraid to use humor and have fun, such as running a social media giveaway to your followers on National Give Something Away Day.

Use sentimental holidays such a Father’s Day to humanize your brand by sharing a story, thoughtful advice or even a memory with your customers.

Stay Top of Mind Year Round

small business marketing calendar strategy

Your business may run into slow periods throughout the year. Holiday promotions will keep you in front of customers, even when they’re not ready to make a purchase. When they are, you’ll be fresh in their minds.

Quiet months also give you a chance to play catch up, prep for peak seasons and look for ways to offer better value and improve your customer experience.

Create Your Own Holiday

small business marketing calendar sales

While it’s important to tie your promotions to the major and minor holidays, be mindful that you will be competing with other business during this time. Stand out from the crowd by thinking outside the box and creating your very own holiday.

American Express did this with Small Business Saturday®, which takes place the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to encourage consumers to shop locally. The global service company even delivers free branded marketing packages to small businesses to encourage participation. 

Amazon boasts its own holiday too. The online retailer generates buzz every year with Prime Day, which offers Prime members great deals and discounts on both Amazon and merchant products.

Remember that your business is unique. Adapt your marketing calendar to fit your business’ needs so you can tailor each promotion to your specific customer. The goal of crafting a marketing calendar is to create results. With a plan in place, you can eliminate the guesswork and have better success in generating the results you want.

Have questions about planning holiday promotions or creating a marketing plan? Contact your local Valpak office today! Our reps will help you make the most of your 2021.