The internet may be freaking out about the Oscars last night (yay Leo!), but it’s also freaking out about the fact that today is Leap Day. For instance, Google changed it’s homepage to this rather adorable animation of leaping bunnies:
Why does February 29th cause such a commotion in the online world? Part of it is probably loosely related to the scarcity principle. To oversimplify, something feeling more attractive because it is rare and doesn’t occur often (in this case, once every four years). It’s not like other holidays that mark tradition or the anniversary of a significant event, it’s simply a day that doesn’t happen very often. As a result, many organizations use it as an opportunity for customer engagement. You might have noticed Facebook trying to encourage you to post a status update about Leap Day (below) or that a trending topic on Twitter is #LeapDay. I can’t put my finger on why it causes such a buzz besides being the double rainbow of the calendar year.
Some businesses are taking the “You have a whole EXTRA day to do things!” approach to Leap Day (which works if you don’t try to get existential about it). This article from a marketing firm in Pittsburgh used this approach to create a list of 29 Ways to Use Leap Day to Improve Small Business Marketing, including things like order business cards, update content on your website, clean out your inbox, and so on. Others are simply using it as an opportunity for customer engagement on social media- there have been many a “We’re curious- how are you planning on spending your extra day?” posts. The “Extra Day” posts seem to be more popular among businesses that offer services rather than products.
Other businesses are using Leap Day as a day to offer discounts or special contests. Some are creating 29% off discounts, like this sponsored ad from my Instagram, or this tweet from Old Navy. The “29% off” approach works better for businesses based in products. This 29% flash sale creates also plays on the idea of scarcity, since there’s a limited window to make a purchase and sometimes it’s “While supplies last.”
My favorite ad that I’ve seen today came from Skydive New England (because…”leap”). I did not enter this year, because I’m still lukewarm about the idea. Perhaps I’ll be ready by next February 29th…
Some restaurants, like the Hard Rock Cafe, offer free birthday meals to Leap Year babies (like my aunt, who has yet to hit adolescence). Many restaurants offer special Leap Day deals in general, if you’re inclined to go out and celebrate. In the meantime, I’ll be mourning the death of Leonardo DiCaprio memes.
So if you are presented with a unique opportunity, like you have too much cheese pizza on hand, you have a special visitor coming in for ‘one night only’ or simply you got an extra day in February, take advantage and have some fun.
And if you want to offer something semi regularly but not quite yearly, consider using a leap year or an Olympic year or other event at a set once-every-full-year interval and commit to it like these businesses have done… and your marketing may help you leap ahead.