Who doesn’t love a long weekend? With Canada Day (July 1st) soon upon us, we are already seeing many ads filled with the traditional patriotic symbolism and iconic Canadian activities like drinking beer, going to the cottage, wearing red, fireworks and celebrating our diversity. Being Canadian, however, is multifaceted and means different things to different people, so it’s important to approach it with sensitivity.

As a small business owner, it’s a smart strategy to have a marketing plan (including a content and social media calendar) closely tied to holidays, national events, and seasonal activities. Think of it as an opportunity to have your brand join in and connect with your community’s collective feelings of optimism, celebration, and reflection. But how do you make this seem relevant to your brand and authentic rather than opportunistic? How do you tie this back into your company’s values and those of your customers and target audience?

Celebrating Canada Day

Limited-Edition Products, Services, or Discounts

Think about your business and product offerings. Do you own a bakery? Maybe you can offer a special Canada Day cookie or cupcake (a potential hit on Instagram!) If you run a clothing business, perhaps you can offer a limited-edition T-shirt or hat. If it’s too late this year to provide a new product design or service, consider launching a social media or ad campaign with discounts. For example, a countdown to Canada Day where there are different products, services, or discounts on special each day of the week leading up to the long weekend. Tie it into your brand and what you already know that your customers like and value.

Host an Event or Join One

Think about hosting a fun community event or having your business sponsor one. It’s an excellent opportunity to talk to folks when they are already in a good mood. In addition, it allows them to become more familiar with your brand and logo while simultaneously seeing the human face behind the business and getting to know you as a person.

Think of offering small giveaways or draws to build your email marketing and follower list. If you don’t have the resources or time to host or sponsor an event this year, consider joining in on one of the many activities already happening around the country. Look for local events in your area, and show up. Make your presence known by posting live updates on your company’s social media pages – share photos and videos, invite people to come to the event, or stop by to say hi. Wear a branded t-shirt if you have one. You can do a lot without spending a dime!

Be Authentic: What Does Your Brand Value?

Does your brand celebrate and encourage diversity as part of its mission statement? Perhaps you offer products or services that help celebrate being Canadian or are unique to Canada in some way. Tying in these messages and talking about what you love about this country and how your brand supports small Canadian businesses will make your company resonate authentically with your target audience, especially if these are values they also share.

Look at what your competitors are doing in their ads, on social media, blogs, and events for ideas. But also try to do something a bit different to stand out. The key is to make your voice and values heard and your brand recognized for those values – it’s not always about tying it directly back to your products with a hard-sell approach.

Give Back Instead

It’s been a difficult couple of years for many small businesses in Canada, around the world, and most individuals. From lockdowns and job loss to supply chain and resource issues to isolation and mental health challenges (not to mention the rising price of gas), most of us have felt the struggle somehow.

So, another approach to Canada Day this year could be on your brand focusing more on helping other small businesses, or Canadians in general who may be struggling financially or otherwise. It could be as simple as highlighting a different restaurant in your community each day on social media and encouraging your followers and customers to check them out. Offer to match a donation to a local charity for any customer who donates or launch a campaign that gives a percentage of your profits to a Canadian charity for the days leading up to Canada Day.

It’s not always about profits but also authenticity and your sense of community that will resonate with customers. And in the end, it’s often these emotional connections and empathy that will draw more people to your business.

Raise Awareness

And finally, while we are on the topic of empathy, it’s important for brands to realize and be sensitive to the fact that everyone in this country does not celebrate Canada Day.

This underlying tension around Canada Day needs to be approached with sensitivity and awareness, especially regarding our Indigenous people and communities. Any planned activities your brand has around Canada Day as a marketing opportunity need to be mindful of these sensitivities, or they may come off as tone-deaf or opportunistic.

Your brand could consider using Canada Day as a vehicle to advocate and raise awareness by helping to amplify Indigenous voices within the community. That could take the form of tangible support by offering donations to a community group or sharing some content posted by Indigenous leaders to help educate communities through social media in a manner that is sensitive and relevant to your brand’s values and overall mission. Tread with caution here. Remember this about enabling the voices and messages of those who have been marginalized or misrepresented. It is not the time to actively promote your brand in the same breath.

Ensure Your Business Is Protected

With any marketing activity or engagement with the public, there is always some risk of your words being misunderstood, your social media accounts being hacked, or even your event tent blowing away (potentially damaging someone’s car in the process). 

Make sure you are protected with the right coverage and consider including business liability insurance, cyber liability insurance, and media and marketing insurance in your insurance toolkit to enjoy your long weekend activities worry-free. Not sure what type of coverage you will need? Talk to a Zensurance broker, who will be happy to help. Happy Canada Day!

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About the Author: Gail Balfour

Gail Balfour is a writer, editor, and senior content designer with more than 20 years of experience covering areas of business, finance, insurance, technology, and health care. A former editor of ComputerWorld Canada, she has worked with several organizations and publications, including Backbone Magazine, PwC Canada, and RBC Canada