My wife, Kelly, and I decided to keep the travelling to a minimum for this year’s summer vacation. Along with 5-year-old Caitlin and 2-year-old Cassidy, we drove about two hours to Wildwood. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Jersey Shore, that’s near the southern tip of New Jersey.
First, let me say what a fantastic place this is for a family vacation. The rides at legendary Morey’s Pier on the Wildwood boardwalk. Beautiful, clean beaches. The Cape May Zoo and Lighthouse. Dolphin watching. Great local seafood restaurants.
There’s a reason why we ran into people from Texas, Quebec, Ohio and all points in between. Needless to say, I highly recommend Wildwood and Cape May.
Of course, I couldn’t completely remove my marketing nerd hat, so I snapped a bunch of photos that I’d like to share, along with explanations of why I snapped them.
When we checked into our condo, the lady at the desk asked us to not hang beach towels and blankets over the rail of our terrace. I didn’t think anything of it until we were walking up to the boardwalk and I saw a bunch of towels hanging on these rails. It really does detract from the building’s appearance. Kudos to the managers of our property for doing little things to maintain the best possible image.
Most vacationers go to the grocery store after checking in on Saturday. I chose to wait until Sunday morning and this is what I found when I was looking for fresh bread. This is less about marketing and more about the customer experience. I understand there was a mad rush on Saturday, but if you deal with this every weekend, you should have a plan for product replenishment.
Sometimes the best marketing is a unique idea, which is extremely difficult to achieve in an oversaturated marketplace. I’ve spent most of my life at or near the Jersey Shore and have been to hundreds of beach and nautical-themed shops, but I’ve never seen handbags made from recycled sails. Congratulations to this shop in Cape May for owning an interesting niche. The only other Sea Bags locations are in Maine and Massachusetts, and at www.SeaBags.com.
I’m all for being a little offbeat, irreverent, and outside the mainstream, but I didn’t get the camel mascot. Also, the college kids who were either drunk or deliberately annoying while dressed up in the world’s worst camel costume (not pictured) didn’t amuse anyone. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky.
Sign, sign, everywhere a digital sign! I saw digital signage at my local Dunkin Donuts before we hit the road for Wildwood. I saw them again at a grocery store and a Wildwood ice cream parlor. Digital signs are becoming very popular with retailers, convenience stores, and restaurants because they allow these establishments to display and update merchandise and menu items, promote special offers, remotely change content on the fly, and keep customers engaged and informed.
Please ignore the picture-taking clown in the reflection of this particular digital sign.
When we were looking for a place to grab a bite on a hot and humid day at the boardwalk, two things stood out – “air-conditioned dining room” and “family dining.” We tend to eat a little early to avoid the crowds, but all of the other families in this restaurant had at least one kid in a stroller – just like we did. Simple, relevant messaging works.
Which one of these advertised products is not like the other? Maybe I’m just a prude, but lumping hermit crabs – living, breathing animals – together with jewelry, tattoos and electronics rubbed me the wrong way.
I haven’t been able to find a definitive history of aerial advertising, but based on my research, it dates back to the 1940s after World War II. It remains a popular form of advertising for its ability to reach dense groups of people, like beachgoers. The rise of mobility, ecommerce and social media has made aerial advertising more interactive, enabling consumers to redeem offers immediately.
I’ve seen planes pulling banners as far back as I can remember as a kid growing up at the Jersey Shore. However, I never saw a banner ad pulled by a boat until my 2015 summer vacation. I guess that’s a cheaper alternative to aerial advertising when it comes to reaching people on the beach. My apologies for the quality of these two photos, but the sun was blinding.
At the Cape May Lighthouse, the absence of obvious marketing was the best approach to promoting this historic landmark because it doesn’t compromise its dignity. Instead of using big signs with price points for lighthouse tours, small displays with stories about the history of the lighthouse were placed inside and outside the structure. I’m kicking myself for not snapping a photo of one of those displays, but I didn’t view them as marketing at the time. Which is why they were so effective.
This ad from a local publication called the Wildwood Sure Guide (yes, that’s spelled correctly) proves that helpful, valuable content isn’t reserved for blog posts, social media and newsletter articles. A clear, concise golf tip with corresponding visuals is sure to grab the attention of the vacationing golfer, who may just go online to learn more about the book mentioned in the call-to-action.
I loved this ad from the same publication because of how the message speaks directly to the needs of local property owners – until I saw the misspelled word. Ugh! I cut out the name of the company at the bottom of the ad to spare the business owner from the embarrassment.
As any parent knows, a vacation with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old isn’t exactly relaxing. Our Wildwood vacation was physically exhausting but mentally refreshing.
Best. Vacation. Ever. I’m an incredibly lucky husband and dad.
I even came away with blog material without doing any actual work. Now, back to the grind. Boo.
What are your thoughts on these marketing nuggets from my summer vacation? Agree or disagree with my observations?