How do you achieve marketing in Calgary – when everything is closed down? The Calgary Stampede is the highest grossing Canadian festival in terms of economic impact and a great opportunity to market your brand. Each year our city almost grinds to a halt with regular trading and business is conducted over a beer or a breakfast as the Stampede comes to town. This is a wonderful chance for the city to take a step back, have a little fun but also forge stronger community ties – and with it, business ties too.
For corporate Calgary, Stampede consists of 10 days of public relations parties and client meetings that run from early morning to well after midnight. It’s one of the most important times of year for business development and corporate relationship maintenance.
It’s a bit of a balancing act to juggle fun and professionalism, but if Google can manage it, why can’t Calgary? Love it, or hate it, the Stampede is a big deal for businesses in Calgary and you need to make sure you’re ready for it.
Sometimes it seems like the Stampede is like Christmas in July. Everyone is caught up in an atmosphere of fun and making friends and enjoying the experience seems to be the only goal in the ‘moment’. Make use of this and as you attend all the breakfasts, parties and entertainments don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, your company and your line of business and talk a little work. Be friendly and interested, without sounding like you’re perfecting your elevator pitch and you’ll make some great connections.
Make use of the time when the city is a great mix of relaxed people, some of whom you may never get access to when things return to normal.
Calgary’s Stampede draws in businesses from all over the country, and indeed, all over the world. If you are looking to expand or increase your internet sales make sure you always have your business cards on you. You have no idea who you are going to meet at that professional breakfast, fun family meal or fair.
It’s a good idea to make sure your business card is imaginative and memorable many stampeders are not dressed in their usual business attire and will have to swap the card from one to the other or you run the risk of being run through the washing machine and your contact details being lost forever.
In 2011 a poll found that 40% of Calgarians who intended to attend the Stampede expected to spend between $150-$400 at the event, and for every $1 spent at the Stampede, an additional $2.65 is spent in the city of Calgary, even though there are many free breakfasts. Shopping is a major part of the Stampede experience. You always know what product is the best seller because you’ll see hundreds of them walking around the Grounds (think Sham Wow type items). Use this to your advantage.
Consider hosting a breakfast for your company and its clients and get your name out there. Your company may have ground to a halt for the ten days, so grab the chance to partner up with a local restaurant and give the pancake breakfast a new twist. The breakfast may be free, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t come in and be in a mood to spend money.
Just don’t forget, No suits! The wearing of jeans and a cowboy hat is mandatory, checked shirt and cowboy boots optional, but advised.
With all the excitement and fried food in the air, it’s time to relax and show a different side to your company. Embrace the opportunity to market a fun side of your company image and create a brand awareness that can adapt and be applicable to all sides of their life.
Many famous people have served as parade Marshalls over the years including Walt Disney, Prince Charles, William and Kate, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Lanny McDonald, and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and your employees want to see them. Cut them some slack, buy some serious goodwill with them, and be flexible with their time. Of course you have a business to run, but remember, if they’re happy – they’ll be more productive. And let’s face it – how much business is there to do?
If your building is downtown or relies on downtown for traffic, it may be best to follow suit and shut down for the day like everyone else. Unless you sell mini donuts, you won’t make any headway.
Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, one of the best pieces of advice for marketing in Calgary during the Stampede is to never stop looking for business opportunities. There are many out there, just wrapped in a different disguise than your normal opportunities. You just have to be ready to grab them when you see them.
The Calgary stampede is a great time to do business, increase your company image and have a lot of fun. By the second Friday in July, you’ll have found plenty of marketing in Calgary to shout ‘Yee Haw’ about.