How to promote your business in a small town

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Published on: February 13, 2020

One solid way to bring attention to your business in small but growing communities, such as Blaine, Lynden, Everson and Ferndale, is to become involved with community parades.

You read that right, community parades.

Think about it. Where else can your business have the undivided attention of a diverse segment of citizens in a small town – from toddlers to elders? Where else can you put your brand in front of thousands of people (a captive audience!) at a fun, family-friendly event?

Promoting your business at a community parade can position your brand in a positive, community-building way. Incorporating small-town parades into your marketing strategy can increase brand recognition and get consumers talking about your business.

Employees and their families can get involved!

In Whatcom County, there are community parades to participate in throughout the year, including Bellingham’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March, the Junior Ski to Sea Parade in May, the Lynden Farmer’s Day Parade in June, Blaine’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July, the Lynden Lighted Christmas Parade in December, and more.

Parades: low-cost marketing for small businesses

All things considered, parade marketing can be an affordable way to advertise your business. Entering your business in a community parade is often free, or there is a nominal entry fee ($50 or less).

So, what do you think? Would you like to try community parade marketing this year? Here are six tips for parade marketing success:

OK. This was a funny one: Lice removal service.
  1. Some parade organizers require motor vehicle entries to provide a certificate of insurance for liability. Some parades encourage candy tossing, while others don’t allow anything to be handed out along the route. Read the entry form for each event carefully. Comply with event rules and supply requested information.
  2. Create a memorable parade entry. Think “cute kids and puppies” kind of memorable. If you want to drive a branded vehicle, add fun elements such as blinking lights or pinwheels. Add a musical element (speaker playing songs that everyone knows) that will get people’s attention as your business rolls down the parade route.
  3. Promote the parade on social media before the event. Let your followers know that you’ll be at the event. Tell them to watch for you. Consider running a promotion that encourages people to snap a photo of your parade entry when it rolls by. If they post the photo online and tag your business, they get a prize or special discount.
  4. Hand out fun, interactive stuff! Maybe toss branded mini-Frisbees, have kids hand out coupons or special offers tied to candy, toss little beach balls with your logo on them, blow bubbles. Spending $250 to $500 on something fun to hand out during the parade can amplify your effort and leave a more memorable impression on parade-goers. This will be your largest expense.
  5. Include your staff and their family. Preparing for a community parade and then getting to participate on parade day can be a team-building activity. Staff and their family can volunteer to help hand out candy or promo items along the parade route. Cute kids can be wavers and bubble blowers (pull them in a wagon).
  6. Some community events, such as the Everson Nooksack Summer Festival in July, have vendor booth opportunities in conjunction with the parade. Consider hosting a vendor booth at the event to extend your marketing outreach.

Hopefully, this article has inspired you to consider parade marketing as a fun and impactful way to reach consumers in smaller communities. See you on the parade route!

A patriotic theme: Simple and classic parade decor.

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