Get It While It’s Hot (Ideas for Marketing in the Summer)

Happy woman jumping on blossom meadow. Beautiful day on field.For our area, summer is an important time for the local economy. From Memorial Day Weekend to mid-October, the area comes alive with businesses reopening for the season and lots of visitors. As marketers, we tend to have a watchful eye on what different businesses are doing to succeed in the summer market.

Sidewalk Fun. You’ve probably seen posts go by picturing clever sidewalk signs in front of restaurants. We’ve seen some from local businesses like MDI Ice Cream that are witty and well-illustrated. If done well, sidewalk sings/art can have roughly two different effects.

One, it catches the attention of people walking around on foot, and they decide to check your business out.

Two A, you take a picture of your sidewalk creation and share it on social media, where it can reach a wider audience (and puts you on the radar of people who aren’t around to see it IRL). Two B, the aforementioned people walking around town are so entertained by your sidewalk creation that they take a picture and share it on their social media. This has a similar result as Two A, but with an entirely different audience.

Outdoor and Indoor Options. Some people like to sit inside and others prefer outdoor seating, and most places (at least restaurants) have options for both indoor and outdoor seating. And it’s not just an idea for people who sell food or refreshments. I remember being a kid and walking around small coastal towns where my mom would want to go into a store or business that wasn’t really fun for a kid. And since we were walking around, I wanted to park it somewhere. Maybe it’s a bench outside, or places to sit inside, but it’s definitely a nice touch to have something on the outside and something on the inside, ideally a place for people to sit a spell and look around at your fabulous business.

If you really don’t have space, try to put out a dog water bowl. It gives a friendly, laid back touch… and gives dogs walking by a reason to stop and rest.

Directions and Referrals. Every now and then, people stop in to ask us for directions to a certain business, a place that sells/has X, or just recommendations in general. This just requires having a general knowledge of the area. Most people want to know about dog or kid friendly places, good hiking, where to find a lobster meal or ice cream, or want to know what a local would recommend. To handle these requests offline, you could have maps of the area (if there are any available) on hand to give out or refer to. In terms of online requests, you could dedicate a page of your website to “Things to Do” or “Our Favorite Local Places.” You could even get each employee to contribute their top recommendation for visitors.

Have physical copies of business cards or rack cards of your favorite places ready to go… and those businesses may do the same for you.

Online Menus/Information. A lot of travel-savvy people will do some reconnaissance before finding a place to eat, and the first place they’ll look is online, either a website or Facebook. Fortunately these are easy to set up, it just requires a bit of data entry. There are also plenty of free apps that will display your menu and allow for easy updates. I’ve used both MenuTab for Facebook and OpenMenu (which has you build one menu and lets you share everywhere, as opposed to entering the same information 3 times in 3 different places). Think of making frequently asked questions like tour times, services, and more easy to access from your website and social media.

As we head into a holiday weekend, some of these ideas may give you some of your own ideas for marketing in the summertime. At the very least, you’ll want to have the local ice cream places memorized!

Marketing Monday: Seal Cove Auto Museum

You might assume that an auto museum with over 50 collections (rotating and permanent) tucked away in Seal Cove would easily slip into stagnancy when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. Seal Cove Auto Museum proves this assumption wrong- in fact, they go above and beyond the marketing call of duty. Not only do they offer year-round events for “children of all ages,” they know how to get the word out, which helps when you throw a good party. They also keep their website and social media up-to-date and user friendly.

Event Marketing with a Turbo Boost. When it comes to marketing an event online, there are several bases to cover. The first, most logical place is your own website. They also utilize Chamber membership to share their event on community calendars, and use their social media (Twitter and Facebook) to market.

In addition to marketing the events, they do an excellent job of taking photos during the event to share on social media later on. People love seeing pictures of other people, so sharing photos of an event has a way of encouraging on-the-fencers to attend your next event (personally, this is what pushes me).

Their video section of Facebook has a healthy library as well, yet another medium to share the work that they’re doing. The video below is a promo for the Centennial inspired Auto Wars exhibit this summer. In writing this post, I actually learned that back in the beginning of the 1900s when cars came around, people almost banned them from the island. Now, in 2016, it’s pretty hard to imagine this being the case.

Fun for the whole family. It’s one thing to market an event well, and entirely another thing to host an event that is actually fun. Seal Cove Auto Museum is accessible for all ages, and hosts events for children and adults alike. Lego Day at the Museum encourages kids to come in and play with the museum’s Legos while checking out the exhibits (this is marketed to “kids of all ages,” by the way). There’s also the annual Speakeasy, which is a highly popular event in the community that allows adults to play dress up and pretend they’re in the Roaring Twenties (swing band included). We’ve heard from their executive director they have had an opportunity to increase the size of the event but have decided to keep the event small and exclusive to create demand.

Online Donation Form. Having the ability to donate online directly from your website is huge (we’ve talked about it A LOT), and Seal Cove has theirs set up so you don’t have to navigate to a 3rd party site (like PayPal). When you click “Donate Online,” this is what shows up:


As you can see, having this donation form built directly on the website itself offers a few advantages. The first is user-friendliness- they can stay right on your website. Second, you have more control. This form matches the rest of the website in terms of color and fonts- something you don’t necessarily get with a 3rd party site. You might not be able to add in the options of making contributions in honor/memory of another person, or specify the program to benefit from your contribution. If people want to give you money, why not make it easy for them?

Seal Cove Auto Museum is a pretty amazing example of a local non-profit that doesn’t rest on it’s laurels in marketing. They’re an auto museum, so it’d be easy to let their exhibits take the wheel and just coast on that (pardon my terrible puns). However, they’ve done amazing work with their online presence, both on social media and their own website. Kudos, Seal Cove Auto Museum!


When To Use A Google Doc As A Webpage

I saw something very interesting happen a few weeks ago.

A woman who runs an online business academy created a document of case studies, which she sent to her email list about 48 hours before registration closed.

Normally, Marie Forleo is really on brand and all her marketing materials have a certain look/feel.

For case studies though, rather than formatting it onto a website or into a PDF, she made a Google Doc and shared the link.

Here it is:


It’s not like this person doesn’t have access to design skills and other resources to have made a pretty, laid out PDF or website with this information happen… it means this was intentional.

Why would someone link to a Google Doc instead of a page on their website?

The only reason I can think of: so you know that other people are looking.

So while the anonymity of this setup doesn’t allow me to see who else is looking, I can see the number of people looking.

When I first looked at this, it showed 95 people also looking at the document. So if there are a few spots available for an online academy and 95 people looking at a document trying to decide whether or not to go, this is a great way to show the demand and get people to act.

If I was looking at a website or PDF (one I didn’t build/have access to), there would be no way for me as a visitor to see who was on the site.

When I can see other people wanting something, it makes it more desirable.

Think about it, you go on Facebook and see your friend wants to go to an event. You shop on Black Friday and someone else want that sweater. It’s the same general idea but this is the first time I had thought to use this concept in a business-y way.

So I decided to pull my own ‘other people are watching’ experiment.

I had a workshop scheduled a couple weeks ago. Not enough people signed up so I asked for the email addresses of the people who wanted to come. I then emailed them all to find out their general interests (‘I work Fridays’ etc.) and then from it constructed a Doodle poll to decide on the final workshop date:


So rather than just putting out a date, I am actively working with people on the selection of the date. This should increase the amount of people who sign up (and show up) but I’ll have to let you know how that worked out after the fact.

Anyway, this ‘who’s watching’ idea made me smile when I saw it (and probably saved Marie Forleo’s team hours in PDF formatting/design as a bonus). How can you use this idea for your next online or offline business initiative?

We Can Get Someone To Maintain Our Site For Free.. Or Can You?

I was once on a committee that was discussing goals. We were bouncing ideas around, as many groups do.

There was talk about having to hire someone to do project management to coordinate the lots of moving parts. Totally understandable.

There was talk of hiring a logo designer to help create a better brand. Absolutely.

‘And we can probably get someone to maintain the website for free.’ said someone.

Out loud.

With me sitting in the room.

Now, maybe this was a way to get me to volunteer…But implying that what I do is easy enough that we could get someone to do it for free, well, that’s not the way to do it.

Here are three snarky, sarcastic things I didn’t say back:

“Yes, because so many people keep their websites up-to-date, there must be tons of people doing this for free already.”

“Yes I love the free t-shirt I got that software conference so much more than the $20 one I just bought.”

“See it’s the fact there are so many people that can do this well that explains why I am practically out of a job.”

Please enjoy my restraint.

Now here’s three reasons why you should assume something is ‘easy’ and therefor someone would do it for free (Yes, even for a good cause) with maintaining a website as an example.

1) You are willing to pay for similar skills… even when it would require getting the ‘free’ person to do stuff. Project manager wants something updated on the website? Graphic designer wanted a certain kind of website header? Guess who they have to talk to. Asking one person to do it free versus paying who they are working with is like asking your new girlfriend to get your stuff from your ex. Plus it’s awkward for all concerned and won’t lead to good feelings…or results.

2) You call someone not free when something terrible happens… so why wait? I have (way more than one time) cancelled my weekend or evening plans to spend hours trying to fix the hot mess of a hacked website. So why wait for something bad to happen to hire a pro?

3) Often the folks that you are asking for free help need something to pay their bills besides ‘exposure’ or ‘good word of mouth’. You wouldn’t show up to your job if that was your ‘payment’, how do you expect this person to be equally (or even a little) reliable with little to no incentive?



My point: If you are asking someone to do something for free, ask yourself why. If you have the money to pay other people for services; are going to be annoyed if it isn’t done (or isn’t done well); and are going to be annoyed at people you pay to bail you out as needed, reconsider. Otherwise, happy bargain hunting.

P.S. This blog post has been in draft mode for two years… and every time I think of releasing it something similar happens. So if you are reading this now and think this is aimed at you in particular, I assure you it is not. This is a general idea to consider the next time someone to do some work for free that you’d normally pay someone to do.

Tech Thursday: Terrible or Not Terrible (Website Edition)

We turn our opinions about website behavior into a game show like extravaganza. There’s singing, laughing, knowledge-dropping, but we couldn’t get a creepy game-show host…

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