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Ashley Scantlebury peeks out from behind a feathered headdress at the media launch for the Junior Carnival Parade and Family Day, July 9, 2012. (Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail)
Ashley Scantlebury peeks out from behind a feathered headdress at the media launch for the Junior Carnival Parade and Family Day, July 9, 2012. (Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail)

Embrace summer marketing moments while they’re hot Add to ...

Over the hot summer months, when the office feels like a ghost town, it can be tempting to put branding efforts on cruise control. But with a little creative planning, summertime can yield fresh opportunities to engage customers and employees alike.

Everywhere you look, outdoor events are taking place, providing moments for you and your business to physically be where your customers are and engage with them in a low-key situation.

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Whether it’s NXNE, the Calgary Stampede, Caribana – or any one of a number of smaller events in your community or across Canada – summer is the ideal time to get outside and meet your customers.

However, summer is also a time when consumer behaviours change drastically. While on the one hand, the season brings plenty of cultural and festival events, for many people, the summer isn’t about connecting. Rather, it’s about disconnecting from the daily grind and chilling on a patio or dockside at the cottage.

So how can we ensure we’re effectively reaching those audiences as well?

Target the summer consumer. While patio-goers and cottagers might be tougher to reach, it just takes a little bit of creativity when altering your strategy and message. Simplify campaigns and package information in a condensed and mobile-friendly way. Consumers are less attached to their devices during this time, so brands need to make each moment count when people do glance at their phones.

To capitalize on the routine trek out to cottage country, Roots brought a piece of the city North and opened a pop-up store at Orillia’s iconic burger shack Weber’s, selling limited edition Roots apparel. This activation was a perfect fit for its audience. Many cottagers shop at Roots for comfy outerwear before heading into the great outdoors, but not usually on the side of the highway when picking up their favourite burgers. The iconic company created a powerful emotional connection between their brand and one of the most uniquely Canadian experiences in Ontario.

Building excitement for a highly anticipated city event is another way to jump right into the action with consumers. For example, Bar-C in Calgary tapped into the Calgary Stampede hype not only by promoting its Signature Stampede Cocktail (which involves bourbon and maple-infused bacon), but also by offering bookings at their restaurant for the hosting of Stampede events. If your brand can join in on the action and overall summer buzz, you don’t have to compete with it.

Summer is an optimal time for photo sharing between family and friends. Especially during the summer months, there is little interest in reading and scrolling through text – and visuals are far more powerful when attention spans are at their lowest. Tweets may get lost in the stream, but Instagram photos and short Facebook bursts are much more likely to be seen.

When you can’t be a part of the moment and physically get in on the action, you can still leverage events and experiences by targeting consumers in a summer-friendly way. For example, a branded playlist released on a weekend that is tailored for the cottage is fitting for July or August. During the work week, there are five days to celebrate summer in the office.

Leverage summer to boost employee engagement. Summer opportunities can be equally as engaging for your employees as they are for your consumers The World Cup offered a great opportunity for offices to create soccer pools or throw viewing parties for their team. Adblock Media, a Toronto advertising company, took this concept to a whole new level with ‘The Traveling Office’ where they relocated for the World Cup, and headquartered the office at Bier Market on King Street. Your office may not want to set up shop in a restaurant, but any event can be a great excuse for some team building.

There are 75 days left of summer – which means there’s still plenty of time to get creative about making the most of the summer months. Don’t let your company sizzle out. What are you going to do to raise the heat?

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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