You might think the next big marketing date on the calendar is Easter, as the supermarket shelves are already lined with chocolate, but you'd be wrong.

British Pie Week is coming this March 6-12 and with it, a major opportunity to connect with new and existing customers online. The team at Higgidy, the popular Sussex pie company, know a thing or two about it — they turned last year's British Pie Week into a frenzy of online engagement.

Here's a look at how they did it:

They started with a news line

Higgidy has grown from humble beginnings in 2003 to supplying more than 150,000 pies and quiches every week to supermarkets across the country. By the time British Pie Week 2016 rolled around, Higgidy literally had its 50-millionth pie baking in the oven. That's a lot of pies.

They seized the milestone to create a news line which earned the brand the limelight in the local paper and online.

They made friends in high places

Higgidy partnered with other brands and media outlets to deliver their message beyond their own following.

A few examples: Higgidy founder Camilla Stephens was interviewed for a piece published by NFU Mutual; Fish on Friday's sustainable seafood blog published Higgidy's recipe for crispy Asian salmon pie; and the Family Holiday Association tweeted to promote a Higgidy product giveaway (a case of pies, a cookbook and an apron).

The collaboration was a win-win. Higgidy reached a wider audience than they would have reached on their own, while partners got content to share on their channels. They also got plenty of cross promotion on Higgidy's pages during what a busy time of year online.

They created killer content

Higgidy's social pages were peppered with content that stood out: colourful, branded graphics, delicious product imagery, videos, clever messaging and animated GIFS.

But they went a step further. To engage with the audience of leading men's online magazine ShortList, Higgidy thought up a photo-based movie quiz, "Can you match the fictional character to the pie?" ShortList published it on their site, which gets one million page views a month.

“We worked with our PR agency and photographer [to produce the quiz]," says Assistant Brand Manager Amy Bellchambers. “The idea was to provide a fresh and engaging take on content usually shared during pie week, which is generally heavily product focused."

What's the takeaway? “Focusing on the quality of your content, rather than prioritizing quantity is really important," says Bellchambers. “That means understanding your audience and avoiding the temptation to treat social as a direct marketing channel.

“Brands also need to be prepared to stretch and adapt their usual tone of voice, and to take risks with their approach when creating content, to ensure that what they're putting out is appropriate for the channels in question."

They made engagement easy

Giving your audience a one-click way to engage with your brand is a great route to quick success on social.

Higgidy held competitions such as this one on Twitter where entering was as simple as retweeting or replying. This post alone got more than a thousand entrants:

They made an offer you couldn't refuse

Higgidy launched the mother of all pie giveaways — free pies for the month of March and April. All you had to do was buy one £3.50 pie with a promotional sticker on the packaging and redeem the voucher inside. You could use that first voucher to buy another promotion-marked pie, and then another, and so forth.

Needless to say, the promotion generated plenty of buzz in the news and on Twitter. Until the pies ran out, of course.

The bottom line

Higgidy went the extra mile to make themselves heard on British Pie Week with social posts, content and promotions that broke through the noise. You can do the same for your business, even if you're not baking pies.

Just think how you might:
  • Partner with another brand to cross-promote on social or feature one another in your content
  • Score a mention in a popular media outlet by getting creative with content like Higgidy's movie-based quiz 
  • Up your content strategy with fun, interesting and useful guides, games, giveaways and tips. 
So whether you're a baker or landscaper, you can always use Higgidy's example as inspiration for an awareness day that resonates with your business. Then browse Google Trends to see when that topic is popular online and time your campaign accordingly.

See how you can use social media to boost your online marketing with free lessons available on The Digital Garage