For our U.S. friends, Connectivity wishes you a Happy Fourth of July! We hope your weekend is filled with parades, fireworks and ice-cold watermelon.

As we sat around the marketing conference table last month, talk turned to holiday content marketing strategies for small businesses and enterprise businesses alike. When it comes to national festivities and holidays, how much marketing should a brand do? Everyone knows that mattresses go on sale over Memorial Day and cars can be had for cheaper on Labor Day, but do these sales and promotions really work?

Every business is different, of course, but we came up with three smart strategies to help you harness your next holiday in the content marketing department.

Plan a Merry Holiday Calendar

Take some time to map out what holidays or other special events your team wants to celebrate or observe throughout the coming year. Build in time to plan, write and curate content for each holiday you choose. If you are the entire marketing team for your business, perhaps create two tiers of holidays to celebrate: one tier gets nice, well-crafted sentiments on Facebook or by email. The second tier is more labor intensive and you’ll need to work ahead to celebrate these holidays. See #2, below!

Create Great Content

This is where your team can really shine. For your catering business, consider a Christmas and Hanukkah blog series featuring custom menus. For Halloween, promote your dental office’s candy “buy back” program. Are you a photographer? Head over to Instagram and post your best parade snaps from the local Independence Day festivities.

Consider holiday-themed website design or social media jpegs that are nuanced with the season’s colors. Bigger calendar items can include downloadable ebooks (“New Year Decluttering Tips”); free video courses (“Get Flat Abs by Memorial Day!); and holiday-specific craft ideas (“How to Make Adorable Reindeer Pillows”).

Keep the Promotion Simple

We all despise heavy-handed pitches on our social feeds. We scroll Twitter to read about current events or laugh at quip-happy friends. We don’t care that your printer toner is BOGO this week.

Good content marketing doesn’t sell like a ton of bricks. But it does create a relationship where readers and viewers trust the source each time they have a positive interaction. So, if you run a cooking store and it’s Fourth of July week, blog about amazing red, white and blue cakes. Make sure to show off your customers’ Instagram cake images (with their permission).

Don’t flood customer inboxes with CAKE PAN SALE! CAKE PAN SALE!. It’s better to send an email with a subject line that reads: “You’ve HAVE to see this cake…” and then feature an awesome creation from a loyal customer. At the bottom of the email, include a coupon or sale offer.

Ask yourself: would I want to receive this email or read this Facebook post? Remember to treat your customers like people: people who celebrate holidays but also enjoy a good message from brands and businesses they like and trust.

Holiday Planning Checklist 

Our partners at Volume Nine SEO have created an ecommerce holiday planning checklist you can use to get ahead of the holidays (and your competition!) in 2015. Be sure to start your planning now; the holidays will be here before you know it.

Jennifer is a Content Strategist for Connectivity.