I just sent this out as part of an advertisers update for the Kingwood Connection and to my eNewsletter List, and thought I would post this on my blog.

Most of you reading this will not be in the Kingwood area; however, wherever you are I am sure there are opportunities for you to do some community marketing on the 4th of July.  If there truly is nothing going on in the area, then pull out a BBQ and make your own event like Rick Alspaugh of Ace Hardware does with his annual Street Dance.

The 4th of July & You

When we moved to Kingwood in 2002, our first taste of Kingwood life were the 4th of July festivities.  We went to our first Kingwood 4th of July parade and received a promotional fan from the RE/MAX float where we later found our Realtor.

There was also a float entry by the neighborhood village we eventually bought in (that is the only time I have seen a float by a village HOA).  When we were looking for homes, that was in the back of my mind because to me it said that it was a friendly, community oriented village.

If you want to forge relationships with the community, participating community events is a great way to do it.   People may not always mention it, but it does make an impact on a customer’s opinion of your company.

I don’t have any affiliation with these events,  I just think that local businesses have a great opportunity and I hate to see anyone miss out.

4th of July Parade

The Kingwood 4th of July Parade is organized by the Kingwood Civic Club.  The fee for commercial entries is $30.  If you have a nonprofit organization, the fee is waived.   Entry forms can be picked up at the Lake Houston YMCA.

Line up starts at 8 am on the corner of Feather Lakes and West Lake Houston Parkway.  Judging starts at 9 am, and the parade starts at 10 am.  The route goes south on West Lake Houston Parkway from Creekwood Middle School, and West on Kingwood Drive to Kingwood High School.

Entry Ideas:   Some businesses go all out and create real floats.  If you have the time, resources, and inspiration to do that . . . awesome!

If not, don’t think you can’t participate.  Get a banner printed for your business, have your employees (or wrangle some friends to do it with you) wear shirts advertising your business, and walk the parade route.  Slap some banners on the side of a pickup truck and drive in the parade. When Kids in Action has participated in the past, they have walked with a parachute and did the thing where they pop up waffle balls during stops.

I do offer banner printing through Legacy Marketing; however, with shipping the time is a little short.  I go to Signs Designs Now on 494 for all my last minute banner and sign printing.  But if you need a banner for the 4th, you need to order it now . . . as in call them first thing Thursday.

If you have a business that offers classes, do little demos during the breaks.  I’m originally from Oregon, and parades are big, especially with the Rose Festival, and there are always entries with exhibitions in the parades.

If you have a landscaping business, create a mini scape in a trailer bed.

Illustrate what you do to parade goers.

Handouts: Be sure to have plenty of business handouts.  If nothing else, hand out your business cards.  Full sized 8.5 x 11 flyers have always seemed a little unweildy  to me for passing out at a parade.  Rack cards or 4″ x 6″ or 5″ x 7″ postcards are great for that.

Parade goers always like getting other “stuff” though.  One year for a mom’s group, we handed out ice pops, which were a big hit.  Tip: if you are going to hand them out get them now, they take a lot longer to freeze when your freezer is full of them.

Candy is always a staple.  Just be sure not to get anything that will melt.  A lot of people hand out water bottles.

If you are looking for little toys and gadgets, we go to Party Wholesalers on the South side of Houston to get our prizes for Picnic on the Park.  If you want to stay a little closer to home, The Goody Bag is on 1960 in Humble.  Right now The Goody Bag has a promotion on their website, $5 off a $25 purchase.

Parade Tips:  Remember it gets hot in July.  Wear sunscreen and be sure to bring plenty of water for your people.

Also, last year I did a float with my friend for her son’s business, the Reptile Wranger , and I could not believe all of the kids that crowded the route . . . some running right up to the floats.  If you are driving and have the manpower to do it, it would be a good idea to have one or two people walk in front of your vehicle to make sure children don’t get too close while it is moving.

Town Center 4th of July Festival

I love events at Town Center and the 4th of July Festival is one of the biggest . . . and I say this as the organizer of Picnic on the Park.

The festival will be from 2 to 9 pm.  Regular vendor booths are $75, food booths are $100.  You can download the application from the web site

I’m pretty sure they will take applications even up to the day of, but give Angela Griffing, the coordinator, a break and get your application in ahead of time if you are planning on doing it.  Trust me, it makes life so much easier if you don’t have to try to get people situated at the last minute.

Frequently Asked Questions: i get these questions all the time for Picnic on the Park, so I’m sure Angela does as well.

What do I get with a booth? You get a 10′ x 10′ space.   You need to bring your own tables, chairs, canopy, etc.  They don’t require a canopy, but I highly recommend it.  If you need electricity, you need to bring a generator.  The electrical situation is very shaky at the park and they just can’t have a bunch of people plugging in or it will blow the breakers.

What do I do if it rains? The event goes on rain or shine.  If starts raining, don’t pack up and go home.  Hunker down in your canopy (see note above), invite passersby in and make new contacts.  It almost always rains on the 4th, but it is never for very long.  Yes, people still come.

People start coming when the event opens, but things really start hopping at around 6 pm as people start coming for the fireworks.

What should I do at my booth? If you have a retail business, it is easier to set up a display that will draw people in and give them something to look at.  Don’t set up a table across the front and making it easy for them to just glance and walk by, put the table to the back and sides and draw them in.

Be friendly.  Make eye contact and smile.  I’ve seen many vendors at my event founder because they sat at the back of their booth with a glum look on their face.  They gave off such a negative vibe, it was almost a physical wall.

If you have a service based business, it is a little harder to come up with something to attract people.  A few examples of successful vendors at our Picnic on the Park event would be The Little Gym that brings mats and wedges for kids to play on.  Jamie at Creekwood Dental participated in her first Kingwood event this year at Picnic on the Park and had a beehive of activity by handing out tattoos  (available at Party Wholesalers or the Goody Bag) and candy filled eggs.   Tracy Woodard was a Plus Sponsor at Picnic on the park and promoted her new resale shop, Everything-N-Between, by renting a helium tank and handing out balloons.

Have sign ups for drawings.  Ask people to sign up for your mailing list and put something in it for them by offering discounts through it (if you don’t have a mailing list or eNewsletter and would like to start one, contact me).  if you still need ideas for your booth and would like to rent one of the games we use for Picnic on the Park , contact me.

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