There are few events as cherished, niche and party-centric as Mardi Gras, and while the holiday is technically based in New Orleans, college students across the nation have embraced it as a major event and—even better—excuse to celebrate.
That said, this occasion offers small businesses the opportunity to take advantage of promotion opportunities and students’ celebratory nature and establish themselves as a go-to for the festivities—whether it’s for food, drinks, events or products.
Here Study Breaks College Media presents effective strategies and ideas for small businesses to utilize to take advantage of this holiday and market to the valuable demographic known as college students.
Throw a Block Party
Because Mardi Gras in America is associated so closely with New Orleans and parades, it is known inherently as an event that is played out in the streets.
Businesses searching to provide an authentic Mardi Gras experience for college students can make the extra effort by hosting a block party (complete with police escorts and all) and establish their event as the go-to event for students on Fat Tuesday or the weekend before, ensuring buzz around campus.
This is also a good strategy for any small business not directly related to the Mardi Gras industry (aka businesses that aren’t peddling hand grenades and hurricanes). Retail stores, beauty salons, and local restaurants can unite under a “block party” umbrella to promote their businesses and actively participate in holiday festivities.
And the marketing efforts shouldn’t stop once the event is over. Posting photos on one’s Facebook page and encouraging attendees to tag themselves is a great way to get extra exposure and social media love as well.
Give Away Swag
Dressing up in festive attire is a huge aspect of Mardi Gras, and as most businesses are already in the business of giving away t-shirts, pens, etc. with their logo on it, to adapt to the holiday (and score some free advertising via people sporting the business logo), it’s as simple as putting a Mardi Gras twist on current designs and giving them away in bulk around the holiday.
And if one manages to design an especially popular t-shirt, koozie, etc., there’s a good chance that people will continue to wear/use the product long after the holiday is over. (And either way, photos are likely to be popping up on social media recording the holiday, which again serves as advertising for the company.)
Promote a Contest
Research has shown that contest promotions are one of the most effective ways to grow a brand online, and because Mardi Gras already has a following of its own, marketers can piggy-back off of the event itself to grow their own contest popularity.
Costume contests, Mr. & Mrs. Mardi Gras contests, and King Cake-eating competitions are all possibilities of growth with the proper promotion. Online sign-ups have the potential to gather email addresses and increase web traffic, while “like-gating” one’s Facebook page so that contest participants and voters, if applicable, are required to “like” the brand to participate, has the potential for massive social media growth as well.