Event on the Horizon? Three Tips for Maximizing Activations, as Told Through Ice Cream

Now that spring has finally arrived in Minnesota, it’s safe to say that everyone is pretty darn excited for the nice weather. And while it still seems far away, it won’t be long until we are celebrating the end-of-summer tradition: the Minnesota State Fair.

Many of the businesses who invest time and resources into participating in events like the State Fair often ask our team, “How do we build excitement and drive visitors to our location – especially in a crowed space like the fair?” Taking lessons learned from our work with client Midwest Dairy, we wanted to share three tips on how to cut through the noise and generate awareness during any event, big or small.

1. Get creative, and start the conversation early. Want to stand out from the crowd? Find opportunities to start talking about your product or service ahead of the event to create interest early on. A great example of this is Midwest Dairy’s Flavor of the Fair contest, which wrapped up its fourth year this week

Developed as a way to generate new excitement and encourage even more visitors to make a stop at the Dairy Goodness Bar at the State Fair, Midwest Dairy decided to introduce a special, limited edition Flavor of the Fair malt or sundae variety that would be sold only at the fair that year. And even better, they enlist the public’s help to choose the flavor by asking them to vote for one of three unique creations. Flavor of the Fair has not only been an opportunity to get ahead of the conversations about the latest State Fair foods, but it has also become an anticipated tradition that the media wants to cover year after year. Check out the WCCO segment and Twin Cities Live segment from this year.

2. Get others involved. For Flavor of the Fair, not only are the flavor varieties interesting and fun (which makes for great media coverage) but adding the voting element allows consumers to become cheerleaders for the brand – sharing the news with friends and families via social media and encouraging them to vote for their favorite, as well. By involving the public and asking them to spread the word, your messaging can reach an even larger audience in an authentic and impactful way.

3. Find new ways to talk about what you’re doing again, and then again. Anyone who’s studied marketing knows that in order for a message to stick, it needs to be repeated. This is especially true when it comes to a high-profile event like the State Fair that has literally thousands of unique and interesting stories to be told. The key to standing out and having people remember you? Find multiple ways to keep telling your story.

For the Flavor of the Fair, Midwest Dairy has done this by creating a program that has multiple opportunities for news. By announcing the three flavor combinations in April and then unveiling the winning flavor in June, these multiple “hooks” allows Midwest Dairy to get out in front of people well ahead of the flurry of other State Fair news that ramps up as we approach August. The more you can talk about what you are doing ahead of the event, the more people are likely to remember.

We hope these tips are helpful as you look for ways to break through the clutter of an event and ensure your message is heard, and have it lead to people clamoring for your product or service – like an ice-cold malt on a hot August day.

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