It’s summertime and whether or not people have vacation time to spare, they still behave accordingly, says advertising entrepreneur Patrick Walsh.
“Small business owners, non-profit organizers and anyone else trying to market a brand should take advantage of what makes this season special,” says Walsh, CEO of AirSign Aerial Advertising, a company that has re-imagined skywriting.
“While workers in the United States take far less vacation time than in most other developed economies, we still like to hit the beach and anywhere else with water, visit the park and grill outside with the family,” he says. “With the kids out of school, many choose to take their days off during this time of year.”
So, how can entrepreneurs tailor their message for a summertime audience? Walsh offers advice from past experience.
• Don’t be afraid to think big and beyond your handheld device. Earlier this year, during the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, Walsh and his crew of pilots teamed up with artist Ben Davis for a public display of art dubbed “Pi in the Sky,” to commemorate National Pi Day on 3/14. Pi is that infinite, enigmatic mathematical equation beginning with 3.14. Walsh’s team of five synchronized aircraft spent more than 90 minutes printing out hundreds of numbers, each as tall as a skyscraper, in the pi sequence in a “painting” that covered 100 miles of airspace. Walsh and Davis garnered national exposure in newspapers, on TV and on the radio.
“This was the perfect cerebral display for the young, hip and entrepreneurial crowd attending SXSW,” Walsh says. “Research potentially important summer dates and the cultural background of your target demographic.”
• Now, think within your little device – be interactive! With the help of Walsh’s social media team, #PiInTheSky was created and shared on Twitter days before “Pi in the Sky” display. Walsh’s planes spelled it out before beginning the Pi sequence, which allowed the social media team to control the message. People quickly figured out that using #PiInTheSky in their tweets and Instagram photo posts allowed them to share the experience with thousands of other people. Between the interactive campaign and the city-sized performance in the sky, AirSign’s #PiInTheSky trended on Twitter at No. 2 nationwide on the day of the display and No. 1 in Austin for 24 hours, which captured the attention of the national media.
“Of course, this was pretty spectacular and took all kinds of planning, but we pulled it off!” Walsh says. “You don’t have to go as big as we did to pull off something spectacular for your marketing efforts – but it does have to be interesting.”
• A step farther in knowing your audience: know who they are now. Grocery stores know how to move product. One strategy is to offer, during lunch and dinner hours, free samples of products they’re trying to sell. If your audience is less predictable than the day’s natural hunger cycles, then consider tracking the mood of your clientele via social media. If a major event is happening within your market, such as a summer concert series, position your brand to be part of the event.
“What’s it like to be the people you’re trying to attract? That’s the question entrepreneurs constantly need to ask themselves,” Walsh says. “Novel marketing strategies – or even those that are fairly straightforward – have the power to bypass the bargaining psychology of typical advertising by going straight to an audience’s imagination.”