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Memorial Day Is a Storytelling Opportunity

It’s no sin to cash in on America’s patriotism if it’s done correctly: by honoring fallen heroes.

Memorial Day is often a “forgotten holiday” that offers brands a chance to connect with service men and women and their families – or any American who supports the military. Savvy companies can use content to recognize and thank veterans while creating brand affinity among consumers.

Explain the History

One way to attract readers is to provide a brief history of the holiday. Use a catchy headline that emphasizes a little-known fact, busts a myth or otherwise draws people to click. Don’t make the content an academic history lesson – avoid including too many dates, names and government acts and key in on the broad strokes.

Provide an Event Calendar

Local brands can provide helpful, “bookmarkable” content by creating a list of Memorial Day parades, picnics, festivals, dedications, ceremonies and other holiday activities in a community. National brands can list national events and TV specials.

Tell Individual Stories

Remember the point of Memorial Day – it’s to remember and recognize those who have given their lives for their country. During the week leading up to Memorial Day, run spotlights of military heroes from the distant past to more recent times. Include soldiers, sailors and flyers from a variety of demographic backgrounds.

Offer a Promotion

Don’t forget that many people use the three-day Memorial Day weekend to hit the beach, have a cookout or otherwise get outdoors and kick off the summer. Help them out with a sale, discount or other promotion. Type “Memorial Day Sale” into Google to see example after example of both major and local businesses connecting with this holiday.
To increase brand loyalty among patriotic consumers, offer a discount or free gift to members of the military or their spouses.

  • The Red Robin burger chain offered a free appetizer with a $10 purchase to veterans, retired, active duty and military spouses, who are also Red Robin Royalty members, during the days leading up to Memorial Day.
  • Chicago furniture retailer Walter E. Smithe connected with the charity Honor Flight, which brings veterans to military memorials around the company. In 2015, Honor Flight was visiting Chicago and coupled with the retailer, which offered 25 percent discounts to current and former members of the military. The Walter E. Smithe communicated its promotion across multiple channels, including print, broadcast and social media, generating additional free coverage from a variety of business and consumer media outlets.
  • Floral companies around the country teamed up with the Memorial Day Flowers Foundation to donate flowers to honor service men and woman buried at more than 200 cemeteries throughout the U.S.

Avoid simply “cashing in” on the holiday. Provide content that recognizes, honors, informs and educates to go along with a discount or freebie.

Recognize Employees

While Memorial Day recognizes those who died in the service of their country (Veteran’s Day celebrates living service personnel), it’s still ok to recognize employees who have served.

Make a Donation

Gain the respect and appreciation of customers by making a donation to the local VFW post, a local military cemetery or a charity that works with veterans.

Be Sensitive

Avoid offending consumers by making sure that honoring fallen heroes remains the main focus of the content. Don’t use the holiday simply to increase sales. By taking a soft-sell approach, there’s an opportunity to generate respect for a brand and increase customer loyalty. If there’s a plan to run promotions in connection with Memorial Day, start with content taking about military heroes, making the offer an announcement that the business wants to do something extra for military members and their families after their service has been recognized.

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