Anyone who doubts the validity or impact of global warming might be swayed by spending a couple weeks of any August in South Carolina. This August, for instance, cooked up a record 14 straight days of temps between 100 and 108. This is your brain; this is your brain on sweet tea. I swear the mockingbirds were spontaneously combusting and whole fields of Bermuda grass transmogrified to shredded wheat.
What you may learn by spending a fortnight feeling as if you were living on the sun rather than in it is akin to Mark Twain’s observation that “a person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was getting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn’t ever going to grow dim or doubtful.” Heat and light narrow the eyes but burst open the mind to new possibilities that we can carry home with us; not, however, without singeing some sacred certainties. Humidity breeds humility.
For what they’re worth, I submit the following observations to other unsuspecting backyard baskers and barbeque-ers who aspire to slather their brains in solar sauce during a beautiful torrid spell:
1. Burgers will cook equally fast on the grill whether you turn on the burners or not. Skip the propane and save your money.
2. No temperature is sufficient to seal off primary-season politicians who are attracted to voters in heated climes like pigeons to grass seed.
3. Air conditioning is simply a way to condition people to keel over when they hit the air on the way to their car from the Marble Slab.
4. You can work up a sweat trying to communicate with consumers when they are in extremis from the heat. TV is full of re-reruns. No one’s sitting on the porch reading today’s newspaper, or on the patio tuning the radio.
5. Even in hellish weather, however, people still take pains to stay connected. At the pool, they have their cell phone. In their cars, they have their cell phones. At the mall, they have their cell phones. In the chilled movie house, they have their cell phones—turned on all too often. At their desks, they have their laptops—hey, eventually calls get dropped.
So it turns out that South Carolina in August, or late summer for any of the dozen or so other states that claim a place in—and on—the sun, can be a hotbed for mobile marketing and online contact. Knowing where your customers are cooling their heels and how they stay in touch with the world is crucial for every marketer. Getting them to volunteer their texting info or online shopping preferences can ignite a marketing effort quicker than a petunia shrivels at 3 o’clock in a Carolina window box.
When the going gets perspiratory, the really cool marketers go mobile, go online and go fishing for prospects.
— Steve Friedman