By: James Guiney
News flash: Branding and communication channels beyond traditional media are growing faster than Odell Beckham Jr.’s paycheck.
Don’t get me wrong, there is still a valid place for the conventional press release and traditional media but to build meaningful relationships for your company and for a client’s brand, you need to broaden your marketing reach.
As someone who spends his days (and nights) organizing and executing events for prominent organizations, I have an appreciation for the significant impact personalized experiences have on growing brand awareness and increasing customer lifetime value. Whether it is a free activation that embodies a rebranding campaign, a community event that develops partnerships, or a week-long food festival that annually attracts thousands of potential customers, I’ve seen firsthand how brands are increasingly utilizing customized experiences to promote products/services and directly enhance the lives of a company’s target consumers.
According to a 2017 study by The Freeman Company and SSI (via Skift), 59% of chief marketing officers recognize brand experience “for its ability to create ongoing relationships with key audiences.” Hence, it should come as no surprise that more money is being spent on live events: more than one in three of the surveyed executives said they expect to allocate “21 to 50 percent of their budgets to brand-experience marketing over the next three to five years.”
With budgets transitioning from traditional advertising and media to an experiential approach, superseded in terms of marketing growth only by digital marketing, I feel it is important to highlight a few key learnings about experiential market that are worth keeping in mind when developing an event strategy for your own company or client.
First and foremost, remember that managing a successful event does not fall on one particular department. You must budget and account for the operational set-up and breakdown of the event (venue, rentals, refreshments, vendors, sponsors, staffing, etc), marketing across all available communication channels (email, social media, paid advertising, etc.), production of creative content (flyers, signage, schedules, info cards, etc.), public relations with important media outlets and community leaders (paid media, earned media, politicians, influencers, etc.) as well as the tracking of key performance indicators for reporting and analysis (RSVPs, attendance count, ticket sales, email addresses gathered, social shares, media placements, collateral distributed, etc.).
Jenna Marone, executive vice president of lifestyle at United Entertainment Group, put it best when she told Ad Age, “Experiential humanizes a brand to a consumer. It gives them intimate access. It allows them to tell unique stories.” The overarching goal of any brand’s experiential marketing is to convert the target audience into brand advocates who share stories about their beneficial experience and refer said brand to their friends and followers. With the prevalence of social media, modern audiences and market influencers are driven to share positive content across their own platforms (essentially word-of-mouth) when it enhances their personal brand.
So, it is important to tailor event experiences to the interests of your target consumers and early adopters in an effort to best serve their needs – and remember, the more fun and creative the experience the better!
Events that are properly planned present at least 10 to 15 opportunities to connect with your audience: The save-the-date; the invitation; the reminder email; the check-in table and other staff interactions at the event itself; on take-home collateral; the sweepstakes (for gathering contact information); the follow-up email; social media interactions; and the owned and earned media to name a few.
Ultimately, an authentic brand experience is the perfect way to complement existing PR/media campaigns and bring a brand’s identity, image and personality to life. If you’re interested in organizing such an event to enhance your target audience’s relationship with your brand, please do not hesitate to contact the professionals at Thompson & Bender!