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Five Ways Marketers Can Keep Campaigns Fresh Year After Year

Michelle Huff

CMO at UserTesting

Ever wonder how marketing campaigns for products like Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte and McDonald’s Shamrock Shake stay fresh and remain highly anticipated by consumers? These offerings have been available annually for decades, yet when the season rolls around, there is still as much hype as in years past.

It’s challenging enough to build buzz for any product in our noisy world, let alone one that reappears year after year. But by following some simple strategies, marketers can set their perennial campaigns up for success and ensure that they continue to capture the attention of their target audience.

Here are five key steps:

1. Know when (and by how much) to mix it up.

When you’ve pushed the same, or similar, campaigns multiple times, how can you know when to switch it up? And how much change is too much?

A good example of this is Starbucks’ decision to add a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew drink to its menu this past fall. The company knew how much customers enjoy when the Pumpkin Spice Latte becomes available each year, and its team decided to capitalize on this further by bringing another trending drink into the mix — cold brew.

Customers still had the ability to get their hands on the ultra-popular PSL (the company has reportedly sold nearly half a billion to date), but they now had an exciting new option that tied into the rising popularity of cold brew coffee.

This is also a prime example of not deviating too far from your brand’s key offerings and messages. When switching up campaigns, it’s important to maintain your sense of brand identity and make small changes based on current trends and the changing wants and needs of your audience.

2. Keep it exclusive.

As the familiar saying goes, people want what they can’t have. This same sentiment holds true when it comes to exclusivity regarding marketing campaigns. Creating a buying experience that only rolls around seasonally, or once per year, gives customers something to look forward to and fuels lasting brand loyalty.

When customers know they can only purchase a certain product or service within a limited time frame or supply, it ups the ante and builds anticipation. An example of this is Russian River Brewing’s iconic Pliny the Younger beer. The company makes only small batches of the product, which has garnered the beverage a huge fan base — some of whom who are dedicated enough to make a cross-country road trip to buy cases of the double IPA.

Social media can also be an effective tool for driving the exclusivity factor of marketing campaigns. In addition to running social media campaigns that support other marketing efforts, businesses can also leverage key influencers to reach their audience in a more personal way.

3. Zero in on your goal.

The first step to a successful ongoing marketing campaign is getting ultra clear on your goal.

Is the aim to create brand awareness? Generate excitement about a new or updated feature? Maybe it’s to get more reviews on the product or service? Or, perhaps it’s some combination of all of the above.

Once companies have a clear goal in mind, they can better design campaigns that will be effective in attaining the desired outcome — and make sure it sticks year after year.

4. Get familiar with who you’re targeting.

Regardless of the length of a campaign, you have to know your customer. Get familiar with their needs, beliefs and attitudes, as well as what they’ve come to expect from your brand.

Unlike salespeople who interact with customers live and get feedback in real time, marketers aren’t always able to test their message before launching campaigns. Ensuring your message resonates with your audience will depend on your ability to suss out what’s most important to them as consumers. To achieve this, it’s critical to always be talking to your customers and receiving feedback, whether it be through surveys and focus groups or in person.

Another facet of being familiar with the audience you’re targeting is knowing how best to reach them. Are email campaigns most effective? Maybe a more social media-based approach has shown promise? Any data companies can gather and analyze based on the performance of past campaigns can help guide their strategy for effectively reaching customers in the future.

5. Get a pulse on your campaign before going all out.

When possible, getting preliminary feedback on a campaign before its official launch can be beneficial. Initial feedback on campaign concepts before investing significant resources gives businesses the chance to tweak their messaging where needed to make their offering more enticing.

Brand studies can be helpful in determining whether past and future planned campaigns are eliciting the response businesses want. Small test groups, such as a single storefront branded with a new campaign, can also be a great tool for getting a pulse on how customers react before fully integrating your campaign into your website branding, other storefronts, etc.

Consumers today have shorter attention spans and a limitless number of options available at their fingertips. By keeping these five strategies in mind, companies can ensure that their campaigns will resonate with their audience and continue to hold their interest year after year.


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