As a rule event programs that last past five years are dubbed solid successes. But longevity shouldn’t be an excuse for letting initiatives get stale. Even when the objectives and strategies remain the same the best campaigns are freshened up every few years. Here four tips for implementing change into your long-running event programs:
1. Open Up. When The Hershey Co.’s Kissmobile first went on the road 10 years ago the company concentrated on interacting with consumers primarily at fairs and festivals. Over the years the brand has learned to leverage the vehicles against a variety of audiences including the trade (Agency: Marketing Werks Chicago).
“We’re still attending parades and different events but as the program evolved it also became a tool for us to manage our customer relationships ” says Zornitsa Ivanova Hershey’s associate marketing manager. “Retailers and grocery stores are interested in the vehicles because it draws excitement and gets customers into the store. It ended up being a great draw for both media and consumers.”
2. Stay True to the Mission. There’s a reason that your long-running program is a success. Change is good but if you want the program to see the same results as it has in years past it’s important to maintain the original premise. Whatever changes are made should not affect the core mission.
Camp Jeep which gets Jeep loyalists and their families to spend a few days test-driving vehicles is in its 12th year. Activities available at the camp evolve every year and have included everything from skateboarding and BMX biking to scuba diving.
“The overarching premise has never changed ” says Jay Kuhnie director-Jeep communications. “But we do try to change it up a little to give attendees more variety and to keep them coming back.”
3. Save the Original Formula. Because consumers from all over the country were attending Camp Jeep when it was a single event on the East Coast the brand thought it might boost participation by adding a West Coast camp. But because the events are family-oriented Jeep had to hold them both during the summer which required tight schedules and a lot of manpower.
“It taxed [our resources] an awful lot ” Kuhnie says. “To put two Camp Jeeps in that space of time was an almost impossible feat for our suppliers. We decided we’re going to live with the one and do our best to make it accessible for as many people as possible.”
4. Listen Closely. When considering changes to Camp Jeep the brand looks to results of its on-site surveys. The feedback helps Jeep marketers choose which activities to keep and which to change. Roundtables with Jeep engineers for example are consistently popular among Camp Jeep attendees and have remained a part of the program throughout the duration of its run.