What Groundhog Day Means To Marketers

I always struggle with thinking ahead to big holidays. I just can’t put my head around an upcoming holiday until it’s too late. There’s no use planning a holiday-themed promotion, event, or message. It seems silly to try. Who knows what I’ll be thinking on that holiday that will outstrip a cliched message?

Well, Groundhog Day is half over already, and I’m still trying to figure that out!

Last Thanksgiving, as I wrote here, it wasn’t until my preparations were done and my dinner had been served that I really experienced thanksgiving from a deeper place. Similarly, it wasn’t until I’d heard familiar carols for the fourth or fifth time in a week that I really accessed what Christmas was about beneath the surface – peace and goodwill. Each holiday is a feeling and a state of mind beyond a popular sentiment.

So it is again with Groundhog Day. But this holiday has several possible significances to marketers.

First, with the mildest winter perhaps ever, I noticed that a certain groundhog’s behavior has not gotten its ordinary share of coverage. With no snow on the ground to wish away, what can we comment on?

Second, I learned from storytelling colleague Jackson Gilman that what we call Groundhog Day marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. (Halloween marks a similar midpoint on the lunar calendar, and much of its charm comes from its position.) Just as Christmas and its antecedents marked one point on an annual cycle, Groundhog Day marks another one.

Finally, there’s the most recent significance – the “Groundhog Day experience” (from the movie Groundhog Day, of course) of repeating the same experience over and over again until it changes – or you do. I’ve just had one of those experiences today with my friend Kristen, who phoned me twice, two hours apart. Both times I was sitting here struggling to write this, and both times she was driving!

How did the screenwriter pick this holiday to encapsulate that experience? Guess I’ll have to watch the movie (hopefully, not too many times) to find that out!

I always mark Valentines Day as a day to highlight the importance of relationships and connecting. This has obvious significance for marketers and business owners. I don’t think marketers need to reflect on repeating something until they get it right. I think we’re all stuck in that loop anyway. Instead, I say today can be a day to illustrate the value of knowing where you are!

Today can be in fact a Grounding Day. A month and a day after New Year’s, today is when plans emerge in slightly more concrete and actionable form from the slumber and struggle – and ordinarily slush – of January.

If plans are still unclear for you by this point, you may face a prolonged season of uncertainty. If, on the other hand, you’re plans are set, then you’ll look forward to things blossoming a lot sooner!

I’m finding this to be the case for me today. If things don’t clear up for me before then, Happy Valentines Day early!

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