A tale of cherry blossom: what sakura can teach you about marketing

Ross Hall

April 20, 2021
(Updated on June 17, 2021)

Two women walking along a path in Japan underneath cherry blossom. One is wearing a kimono

After 3 years of false starts, we finally got to see Sakura in Kyoto. It was an odd experience, one filled with personal joy at moving to Japan; edged with regret for those who, for the second year, did not get to see such a glorious sight.

The sight of cherry blossom bursting into life across Japan is beautiful. For all the talk of “Cherry Blossom Parties”, celebrities standing on bridges looking at awe and random photos on social media, nothing can prepare you for the shock of seeing it for the first time.

Yet you can be prepared logistically. Sakura comes in late March or early April, peaking 4-5 days after it reaches full swing. It sweeps across the country in waves – Kyoto has peaked, our local park is only just turning from pink and white to green. There are “Sakura Forecasts” across the media, tracking the likely date the cherry trees will flower. Analysis of petal coverage and longevity is worthy of segments on prime-time TV.

Considerable effort goes into marketing and sales. Photographers and models are booked, as is advertising space. Magazines feature fashions for cherry blossom parties, with relevant ads and sponsorship. Supermarkets promote ideas for food. There’s a general celebration of this time of year every brand joins in. Miss out and it’ll be another year before you can ride the sakura wave again.

I often come across small business owners “caught out” by events they knew about long in advance. The result is paying over the odds for less than stellar content, or missing the opportunity altogether. Worse is when rushed social media posts are thrown at the proverbial wall, followed by crushing disappointment when they fail to go viral.

There’s no excuse for it. An editorial calendar should watch these things and keep plans and processes on track to deliver. “Last minute” should be reserved for reaction content, not bread-and-butter marketing.

I'm Ross, a digital editorial designer and content creator from the UK now living in Japan. I help growing companies plan, source, produce and promote a range of content. Find out more

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