Unless your business is located in a summer resort area, you have probably asked, “Hey, where did everybody go?” There are two prevailing and somewhat conflicting thoughts on how to advertise when the sun is shining and the warmth of summertime draws shoppers away.
First, don’t spend your advertising dollars. Pull back and wait until the population comes back to town. Second, get aggressive. Promote heavily to capture market share.
In my opinion, the most effective advertising strategy in the “dog days” of summer is a well-planned combination of both strategies.
Population on the Go
This year, according to AAA, more people are expected to hit the highways and travel across Michigan to enjoy their vacations. Due to the economy and the decrease in gasoline prices, people will be enjoying the resort areas across the state.
Out of a population just shy of 10 million, it was reported that 1.2 million took to the highways on Memorial Day. Projected numbers showed that 1.4 million would be traveling on the 4th of July and 1.2 million will be traveling on Labor Day weekend. Keep in mind that a percentage of the population already lives in or near the resorts, so we can be sure that the pilgrimage by the inland populace is a larger percentage than it seems at first glance.
Shifts in Media Viewing
We are spending more time outdoors during the summer months, so television viewership is down – but the radio audience rises. Traveling in automobiles or spending time outside is often accompanied by the radio being turned on.
We also spend less time surfing the Internet during the warmer months, so the populace shifts to shorter online sessions. People will go online on their iPads and smart phones more frequently. With the increase in travelers on the highways, billboard viewership rises.
Who wants to waste those beautiful sunny days shopping indoors? So when it rains, particularly on the weekends, the consumer will use this time to shop.
When we buy media during the winter months we always have the ability to cancel schedules when the weather report calls for that pending 24-inch snowstorm on Friday night. The opposite is true in the summer months. We recommend that retailers have promotional events ready to go.
Watch the weather, and if it calls for a rainy weekend, be ready to pounce. Buy the media and get ready to capitalize on the inclement weather.
During the summertime, promotions should be more events oriented. Below are several summertime promotional ideas that are common, but effective.
Sponsor an Organized Community Service Event. Get local officials, residents and employees involved in an event that gives back to the community. Blood drives, town beautification projects, planting a garden for the local nursing home…these are all positive promotional ideas. Make sure that you have a press release kit that will be distributed to your local media so you will get additional media coverage for the cause.
Hold a Cookout. Invite customers to join you and your staff for a “Customer Appreciation” cookout. Serve the usual summertime fare and remember to plan activities for children. Be sure you connect with your customers through casual interaction. Get your employees actively involved, as it will keep them motivated and help them shake off the summertime blues.
Distribute Summer Related Promotional Items. Offer your customers products they can use while they relax, such as beach towels, reusable water bottles, sunscreen and visors. Work with a promotional marketing company to order summer-related products with your company logo prominently displayed on them. Distribute these items to customers when they shop in your store, or host a contest and use promotional items as a summertime giveaway.
Give Customers Summertime Advice. Use your newsletter or social media pages to give tips for staying safe in the sun, activities to pursue in the area and barbecue recipes. Include information about sales or new products and services your business plans to offer during the summer.
Conduct Sidewalk Sales. Bring your products outside of the store and set up tables to capture the eyes of customers passing by. Use a sidewalk sale to unload excess inventory at discounted prices. Employees outside should handle questions, make sales and encourage customers to visit the inside of the store to browse the rest of your inventory.
Set Up Tent Events: Summer is a great time for an annual Tent Sale. Create visual excitement and offer tremendous values both inside and outdoors. A good tactic is to put skids on the ground and display your merchandise on the skids. When it rains, your merchandise will stay high and dry.
The population is on the move in the summer months, yet there still is a lot of retail activity going on. Shift your advertising budget and summertime ad strategy accordingly and you will find that business can be as hot as ever.
And one more thing … if you are a Michigan retailer who is reading this blog on your vacation, I would recommend you turn off your computer and stop thinking about work. You work hard enough! You should take the time to clear your head, relax and enjoy life a little more. Your retail business will be there when you get back.
If you are a Michigan retailer reading this while working, I hope that you have a vacation planned this summer. You work hard and you need some time to relax and recharge your batteries. In fact, now that I am done writing this blog, I am going to hit “send,” turn off my computer and head to my pontoon boat for a little time away on the water.
Ed Borowsky is CEO of Monarch Advertising.
Ed Borowsky Blog
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