Promoting major seasonal events, like county fairs, has one big drawback — the weather. When it gets too cold, too hot or too rainy, visitors (aka the customers) stay home in large numbers.
A few bad weather days can make the difference between a successful year or a bust. So you need to take advantage of every good or marginal weather day and get as many people through the gates as possible.
For the last 169 years, the Canfield Fair, one of the largest county fairs in the USA, has lived up to its slogan “Something to Crow About.” It packs an average of 350,000 people in for the six-day event. That’s almost 60,000 people a day.
Seven years ago, the Fair asked us to help them keep ahead of the curve (and the weather). We knew we had to develop messages and a media plan that would build loyalty and keep the Fair strong and sustainable.
Here are the steps we took. Use them to help promote your seasonal event.
No matter what you think you know, you don’t really know until you confirm it or find out something different. You need to get a good idea of what consumers think about your event — what they like about it and what they don’t like. You need to know what incentives will get them to come more often or spend more.
Events are often run by a board of directors. It’s not unusual for boards to want to promote things that are favorites of theirs but not really things customers want. If research shows you that attendees are mostly interested in the food and certain events, make sure the majority of your messaging is focused on food and those events.
Even if the event has been around for a hundred years, use all the modern messaging that is at your disposal. We developed an app for the Fair that helps fairgoers find their parked car (and the rest rooms!), download coupons, vote on favorite vendors and more.
Mix That Media
Events are perfect for concentrated, short-term mass media like TV. But they’re ALSO great for heavy social media posting. The difference is that you have to keep the social media going most of the year, or at least months before and after the event, to build and maintain a following.
Give them a deal — coupons, special days, etc. Did you know that 25- to 45-year-olds use more coupons than any other age group? Everybody wants a deal, and Senior Day or discount admission could increase traffic by 5-10% or more.
Be inclusive — build “ships” when you want to grow your event. Use partnerships, memberships and sponsorships to get those extra visitors when you need them most.