As a final act of closure on the holiday weekend, I re-traced the July 4th parade route on my morning run. As I carefully dodged candy wrappers, leaflets, and other giveaway items on the newly swag-encrusted streets (an unseasonal rain had left all of these promos fused to the ground) I thought of how parades can be useful to marketers.
First, they are great ways to support your community and country. Second, they are an OK local mass media tool — emphasis on the OK and the local. Finally, they can be useful cautionary tales because none of your other marketing efforts should resemble your parade strategy at all.
Parade strategy is fine for an actual parade. You see, a parade is a large untargeted mass of people. Buy some huge bags of candy, maybe run some fliers at the copy center, and you are destined for parade greatness. That is an acceptable investment for something that you should largely chalk up to good will and community outreach.
Again, none of your other efforts should look like a parade. Unlike a parade which pulls in large, seemingly random samples of people from all walks of life, chances are you can find a targeted slice of customers or potential customers to talk to. Rather than running general overview brochures on Astrobrights by the hundreds for papering the streets you should know your audience well enough to produce a small, powerful piece tailor-made to position your solution before this target. It sounds simple but the lines can get blurred such as sending a generic postcard to chunks of the phone book or sending an email blast when you should be launching a targeted email campaign.
The holiday is over. Make sure your marketing is back off the parade route.
Photo credit by Michael @ NW Lens via Flickr