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Keep Up With Marketing as Summer Winds Down

August 26, 2011
Cindy Mannes

This time of year, many of us have unplugged for one last hurrah of summer, taking time off from our everyday routines to relax and recharge before the stirrings of fall commence. Kids have been out of school and many families are still in vacation mode, spending plenty of time outdoors. Consequently, people are not yet back into their normal routines. You might think it's a perfect time for your marketing efforts to take a break as well, but it isn't.

While your traditional methods of advertising may not prove to be the most effective means to communicate with your customers during these last few weeks of summer, there are many affordable and interactive tactics you can use to reach potential and existing customers when they are relaxed and often very receptive to your message. As I've shared previously, at Arrow Exterminators we are passionate about our sustainability initiative. We have had a culture shift that embraces sustainability as the backbone of how we do business.

If you recall, sustainability is more than "green." It is the social, economic and environmental impact you may have on your business and the community you serve. A big part of sustainability is not only giving back to the community but also being part of the communities where we live and work.

Community Events. So, where are your customers during these last days of summer? Many have taken "stay-cations," and those who do go on vacation may be out-of-pocket for a week or more. When not on vacation, many tend to look to their local communities and participate in local events.

Consider this: if you have 500 to 2500 folks and their children in one location where you can talk with them, learn about them, and conduct your own local demographic research, is that worth a few marketing dollars? You betcha. Large or small, these events provide opportunities to engage potential customers personally and leave them with a very positive impression of your business.

In every community there are opportunities to participate in events such as local festivals, holiday celebrations, free outdoor concerts, movie nights and youth sports leagues.

And when I'm talking about "participating" that doesn't mean just paying for a sponsorship. It means actually showing up for these events, shaking hands, getting to really know your market — personally.

The Activation Plan. Selecting the right event is only the first step in building a successful grassroots marketing program. A comprehensive activation plan is a must! Any plan should include a lead generating opportunity. You may want to give away a specific service or premium item. Have the folks fill out an entry form with all their information and you'll have leads. Should you employ this tactic, be sure to follow up with these folks in a timely manner.

Consider hosting an interactive game for children. While the children are playing the game, the parents are standing there watching, so it's a perfect opportunity to talk with them. If you have specific services that are timely to discuss, that's the ideal time to mention them. For instance, you may want to talk about mosquitoes and your mosquito service if folks in your area are plagued by this pest. In fact, mosquitoes were named the Number One summer pest according to a recent consumer survey sponsored by the Professional Pest Management Alliance.

If pets are allowed at the event, consider bringing treats and water for them. Then you can talk with pet owners about ticks and fleas. There has been a resurgence of fleas due primarily to resistance to some flea and tick products. Also, be prepared to impart your health message: In certain parts of the country, ticks can spread Lyme disease and more.

Finally, stock up on inexpensive premium items to distribute. Whatever it is, make sure you have your name and phone number on it! Frisbees are a great choice and you will often have the pleasure of watching your brand fly around all over the event!

Remember, pests never take a vacation. Floods, monsoons and even droughts in every region of the country have their unique challenges that bring about surges in specific pest populations. You want to make sure you are always top of mind with potential customers should they encounter a problem. By being seen as part of the community you have a greater opportunity to get the call when the pest problems arise.


The author is chief marketing and strategy officer for Arrow Exterminators, Atlanta, and can be contacted at cmannes@giemedia.com.