CMO

A Pi Day 2016 lesson for CMOs

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As a marketing executive, you make sure your campaigns are timely and relevant. One tried-and-true strategy is to align campaigns and messaging with seasonal holidays, when customers are naturally searching for and purchasing your company’s products and services. It’s easy to plan campaigns around Christmas and Mother’s Day campaigns – but what about quirkier annual “holidays” like today, Pi Day (March 14)? Tapping into these extremely specific events can provide a new way to connect with a target audience that will respond to your brand’s recognition of their special day.

This year, Pizza Hut has wisely decided to launch a campaign around Pi Day. If you’re not familiar with Pi Day, it’s the geeky celebration of Pi (π), the symbol that represents “the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter,” as described succinctly on Wikipedia. Pizza Hut’s play on the word Pi is obvious—they do sell circular pizza pi(es). One could say that a big target audience of theirs is students learning about the math concept of Pi for the first time. Sixty-eight percent of gatherings involving pizza hosted in the U.S. happen in households with kids age 18 and under. And young people born in the year 1978 and later “tend to eat more often at quick-service and pizza restaurants,” according to data compiled by Food Service Warehouse. So creating a Pi Day campaign for Pizza Hut makes sense. It’s relevant to the brand and to its audience.

Pizza Hut’s approach, announced on its blog earlier this month, was to partner with respected mathematician John H. Conway to host a math contest involving Pi-focused word problems, published today at 8 a.m. Eastern. The winner gets –you guessed it—3.14 years’ worth of free Pizza Hut pi(es), awarded in gift cards.

CMOs and marketing executives: the lesson here is to seek out those unusual, seasonal and non-denominational holidays like Pi Day that are meaningful to a demographic that will respond to your brand. There could be an instant audience segment that you could connect with. Create an experience that is engaging (like a problem-solving contest), that requires your audience coming back to your digital property repeatedly (like the Pizza Hut blog) for results, which boosts traffic to your branded blog or site. Enlist a celebrity who will be known by the target audience (in this case a famous math whiz) who are celebrating the holiday.

Maybe Pi Day is not your day. But as the year advances, research what other holidays will resonate with your brand and a specific target segment and their cohort. And celebrate it with them.