Around this time 519 years ago, Christopher Columbus discovered America. Our elementary education (or, in my case, the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode where Theodore is failing his history class) taught us about how Columbus wanted to embark on a journey to search for this new world. Regardless of where you first heard the story, your educators had yet to discover the hidden lessons this tale would have in store for the modern marketing world.
Here are three things inbound marketers should keep in mind this Columbus Day.
1. Don’t be afraid to explore. Be a pioneer.
At the time, no one ever thought to consider the possibility that there was additional land on Earth. Nobody questioned, and nobody wondered. Christopher Columbus would have never stumbled into these lands if he hadn’t taken the risk of exploring what could possibly be. And just as Columbus was willing to investigate and travel into the unknown, inbound marketers should be too. The point is, market research is immensely valuable to any business, and it can be a great basis for new, original, and successful content. Furthermore, becoming an early adopter of new marketing trends could help you set the state for your industry. Don’t wait for your competitors to pave the path. Your research and experimentation -- and the insights you derive from them -- could lead to the potential of something great. You may not discover a country, but there could be a whole new world of technology, coffee mugs, swimming pools, food, travel, anything. The industry is yours to shape through the information you discover.
2. Own a category.
Celebrations in remembrance of Columbus’ discovery were held in 1972 and 1892 to mark its 300th and 400th anniversary. In 1906, Colorado picked up on the true importance of Columbus’ pioneering and declared it a state holiday, and it took about 30 years for the holiday to be recognized nationally. Colorado was not home to where Columbus first landed. In fact, it’s rarely the first state to come to mind when one thinks of America. Just as Coloradans took the first step toward owning this category, your business can be the first to start a trend that has the potential of eventually being recognized on a greater scale. Realize that the results of your efforts may not roll out right away, and that long-term goals can be just as valuable as short-term ones. Have lofty goals. Even if it takes 30 years or nothing ever takes hold at all, there’s a certain pride and respect that is tied to the one brave enough to make a difference.
3. Leverage Contra-seasonal Marketing
While Columbus Day may be a federal holiday, not every American has today day off. Just as a global company has to re-strategize how to market its brand on a global level, a local business must consider the activities of its target audience on holidays. Just because your company takes the day off and you’re headed to Vegas for the weekend, doesn’t mean your target audience will be, too. If you decide to completely stop updating your blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, etc., you could be missing out on a valuable opportunity.
We like to call this "contra-seasonal" marketing. When many businesses have abandoned marketing efforts under the assumption that no one will be listening to their marketing messages, smart companies continue their campaigns and reach potential customers without having to cut through other noise from marketers. And when a prospect's inbox isn't littered with emails from other vendors, they may be more likely to open your email. On the other hand, if you are at work on during holiday vacation, don’t forget that others aren’t. Adjust the frequency of your marketing messages so your prospects don't return to work from a long weekend bombarded with multiple email marketing messages.
Can you think of any other marketing takeaways from the history of Columbus Day?
Originally published Oct 10, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated June 10 2021