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How Small Scottish Businesses Can Make the Most of Burns Night 2023

Team 365 finance

Written by Team 365 finance

Help and Advice

Many consumers become very money conscious in January, especially those who spend significant amounts on their Christmas shopping or New Year’s Eve plans. As such, small businesses may notice a big drop in their revenue during the first month of the year. To combat this decrease, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity available.

For small Scottish businesses, Burn Night 2023 might offer a great chance to stave off the January slump and attract new business to your company. Burns Night 2023 is a particularly relevant opportunity for hospitality businesses, as the focus of most Burns Nights is the food and drink involved.

However, that’s not to say that other small Scottish businesses can’t take advantage of the event. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of ideas for Burns Night that your business can make use of to draw in new customers and maintain the loyalty of existing ones. Read on for more.

What is Burns Night?

Although most Scots will be aware, those from England and further afield may not know what Burns Night is or why the event is held. In short, it is held on January 25th and commemorates the life and art of Robert Burns, often referred to as Scotland’s greatest poet.

Robert Burns wrote on a variety of topics, including life, love, and politics, and had a significant following throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. He died aged only 37, but the popularity of his poems and music meant that his legacy survives into the present day. As well as Burns Night, his poem “Auld Lang Syne” is sung around the world on New Year’s Eve.

Burns Night Ideas for Hospitality Businesses

Although there are many components involved in a traditional Burns Night, the core of the event is a dinner called a Burns Supper. Since there’s a heavy emphasis on the food and the social nature of the event, hospitality businesses are naturally suited to making the most of Burns Night 2023. Below, we’ve listed some of more specific guidance for taking advantage of the event.

Specialised Menus

Small Scottish businesses in the hospitality industry, such as pubs and restaurants, might be able to attract new customers by adjusting their menu to include more traditional Scottish food on the week leading up to Burns Night.

As well as providing more marketing materials (i.e. social media posts emphasising the traditional, homemade nature of the new menu items) offering Scottish food and drink can encourage customers to make bookings at your restaurant for the night itself. As Burns Nights are usually family affairs, this can fill your tables up very quickly.

The essential foods for a Burns Supper are haggis, potatoes, and turnips. Additional courses might include a starter of cock-a-leekie soup or scotch broth, and serving some type of Scottish whisky is standard throughout the meal.

As well as these traditional options, you might consider putting Scottish twists on more standard menu items: Irn Bru or whisky flavoured ice creams are a popular idea. Finally, make sure you account for the modern trend towards vegetarian and vegan diets by offering meat-free versions of your Scottish menu items.

Market Your Availability for Events

Many Scottish organisations, from universities to sports clubs, hold Burns Suppers on the 25th. These events can sometimes be fairly large, including both the organisation’s members as well as their friends and family. By advertising your business as a potential venue for Burns Night events, you can drive a large number of people to your business with relatively little effort.

The key to attracting large-scale bookings is to market your availability well in advance. While you’ll likely want to focus your December marketing efforts on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s a good idea to create materials before the start of January. This can be particularly effective if you also host Christmas parties for local businesses, as some of them may be also interested in booking your business for a Burns Supper.

When marketing your business for Burns Night, lean into the traditional Scottish aspect when it comes to design and photography. Also be sure to clearly display your specialised menu, and any entertainment options you have available.

Live Music and Poetry

If you’re looking for entertainment ideas for Burns Night festivities, having poetry and live music performances is a popular (and very fitting) option. These performances could be regular throughout January, or saved as a special event on the 25th.

As well as hundreds of poems and sonnets, Robert Burns published a considerable number of songs. Scotland has a thriving traditional music scene, and holding a performance of Robert Burns songs is a great way to attract a niche audience. Live music can attract a crowd throughout the year, but specifying genres helps target specific demographics, which is a key part of spreading awareness of your brand.

Burns Night Ideas for Other Businesses

Scottish or Scottish-Themed Products

If you make your own products to sell, adding a Scottish twist to them is a great way to celebrate Burns Night even if you can’t offer the traditional customs (like the Burns Supper). Additionally, this idea for Burns Night doesn’t necessarily need to only happen on the 25th — you can easily sell your Scottish products throughout the year.

The way you add a Scottish twist to your products will be unique to the kinds of products you sell, but even something as simple as using tartan packaging or a thistle motif can help. Try different designs and look into different aspects of Scottish culture to find something that fits your brands and (more importantly) appeals to your target audience. While adding a Scottish twist is fun, make sure what you’re selling still appeals to your market.

Embrace Local History

Many small Scottish businesses rely on their location to help create a brand (i.e. shops in Edinburgh or Glasgow often use those cities’ reputations to influence their marketing). So while preparing for Burns Night 2023, you might be surprised by the local connections to Robert Burns you can dig up.

Later in his life, Burns worked as an exciseman, which was essentially a tax employee in the 1700s. The occupation meant he had to travel often, and the wages he earned also funded his own personal travels. So although the poet was born in the west of Scotland in Ayrshire, he has connections to towns across central Scotland, and had travelled as far north as Inverness.

Perform some local history research online, and see what you can discover. Many of the pubs and inns that Burns stayed at during his travels are still open today — consider a partnership with these businesses to help amplify your Burns Night marketing.

Make the Most of Special Occasions with 365 finance

Although most of our suggestions are reasonably cheap, some of our ideas for Burns Night might involve a cash investment. If you’ve had poor sales throughout January, you may struggle to make the necessary investment. Worse, you might miss out on other opportunities throughout the year if you can’t identify a new source of finance.

In one of our other blog articles, “Powering up your small business with SME funding”, we look at the use of SME funding for small businesses. As well as investing in things like equipment and personnel, SME funding options like revenue-based finance can be used to help you take advantage of opportunities like upcoming annual events (like Burns Night 2023).

So if you’re looking to implement some of our ideas for Burns Night, but are unsure about the costs, then our revenue-based financing might be perfect for you.

365 finance offers Rev&U cash advances to applicants. A cash advance can be secured quickly, unlike traditional funding like bank loans, making it a great option for SMEs looking to immediately reinvest any funding they acquire. For example, you don’t need to apply for funding months in advance — those applying at the end of December will likely receive funding before Burns Night arrives on the 25th.

Additionally, repayments are revenue-based, so you don’t need to worry about struggling with debt after applying to 365 finance. If you can take advantage of multiple annual events throughout the year, you’ll likely notice a significant increase in revenue, which means your loan will be repaid even faster.

At 365 finance, we can provide both long and short-term finance solutions, with revenue-based funding available from £10,000 to £400,000 in capital. Apply for funding today without affecting your credit score, or speak to our team to find out how we can help your business. To find out more, head to our website.