When compared to July 4th, Flag Day marketing just doesn’t get the results.

July 4th gets fireworks, BBQs, huge parties, drink specials, concerts, events, and more. Flag Day, on the other hand, just doesn’t have the marketing to make it really big.

In case this doesn’t strike you as obvious, let’s look at July 4th’s successes:

  • Even during the last recession, Americans spent as much as $3 billion on food, entertainment, and travel.
  • 87.8% of Americans partake in July 4th festivities.
  • Consumers spend $600 million or more on fireworks during the July 4th weekend.
  • Beer sales see almost $350 million, more than hot dogs and hamburgers combined.

And Flag Day?

Unfortunately, Flag Day doesn’t see  anything close to those numbers. While Independence Day celebrations are a fixture of American culture, Flag Day celebrations are so uncommon WikiHow has had to write an article explaining the best way to celebrate the holiday.

When we apply the science of marketing to these two holidays, we can learn a few lessons that will show us what to do and what not to do in our own campaigns.

Let’s look at what July 4th’s marketing does right…and what Flag Day’s marketing does wrong.

Flag Day: Wrong Packaging, Wrong Monetization Strategy

Which sounds more fun to the average American – enjoying a beer-fueled fireworks party with friends? Or dressing up in red, white, and blue and having a patriotic parade that celebrates the flag?

True, both holidays are patriotic in origin, but Independence Day has become more about the celebration than anything else.

Flag Day continues to focus its energy on the flag itself, which was adopted on June 14, 1777. This day also happens to be the army’s birthday, so it certainly has an appeal to a niche demographic of patriots.

But that’s not enough to bring in the traffic and generate sales. The annual parade that takes place in Troy, New York, is supposedly the largest in the world and draws around 50,000 spectators.

That’s a pretty decent crowd, until you compare it to the Macy’s July 4th fireworks show in New York, which draws around 3 million.

In a nutshell, here are the mistakes that Flag Day makes in its marketing:

  • It’s choosing a demographic that’s too small. There just aren’t enough die-hard patriots out there who will celebrate the holiday and make it profitable.
  • here’s no clear monetization strategy. The focus is on the flag and patriotism, neither of which can be monetized very easily. On the other hand, July 4th focuses on commercially viable products, such as beer, fireworks, hot dogs, hamburgers, and parties.
  • Flag Day isn’t evolving with the times. It’s still about the flag, and, over the years, Americans (the target audience) have become less patriotic, particularly the millennials. The holiday has remained static over the years instead of adapting its advertising and its image to meet the needs of Americans.

To succeed commercially, Flag Day would need to adopt the marketing strategy that Independence Day has: it would need to put the customer first.

July 4th: Customer Needs Come First

Every marketer knows that the customer’s needs come first. Many of the world’s most successful marketers design their product only after they have:

Made sure there’s money in the target market

Surveyed their target audience

Found out their needs and wants

And discovered the best way to package their products and services

July 4th, like Christmas and Halloween, has become a commercial holiday fueled by advertising and marketing. What makes July 4th work is its mass appeal.

It appeals to Americans on a large scale, because of the nature of the holiday, but the patriotic aspect has been dialed back in favor of more marketable traits:

  • Friends and family
  • Good food and beer
  • Fireworks and parties

As we saw from the numbers above, July 4th has made itself very profitable by focusing on these aspects of the holiday, rather than the more patriotic nature.

July 4th and Flag Day Marketing Takeaways

If you want to succeed in your marketing endeavors, the comparison between July 4th and Flag Day should offer some valuable takeaways:

  • Find a market that has money. Bloggers and affiliate marketers, for instance, know that if you want to make money online, you need to find an industry that’s willing to pay. Focus on products that can be monetized – in this case, July 4th’s emphasis on commercially viable fireworks, beer, and so forth, have allowed for-profit companies to help fuel its growth.
  • Find a market that’s large enough. If die-hard patriots are waning, then find out which audience segments are replacing them, then monetize that segment instead. Independence Day’s more relaxed approach to its patriotic origins makes it more palatable to audiences across the spectrum.
  • Finally, remember that its’ about the customer – not about you. Many companies focus on telling “their stories” instead of offering up-front benefits and value that the customers are interested in. People are inherently self-interested, and they want content that is personalized, immediate, and relevant.

Whether you’re marketing an app or advertising a product, it always pays to put customers first. This comparison of Flag Day to Independence Day should clearly illustrate what happens when you don’t.