5 Lessons For Event Organisers from Experiential MarketingPosted on 25.01.18 by Michael Arnot
What are experiential events?
Marketing industry jargon such as brand immersion, brand activation and guerrilla marketing aside, the essence of experiential marketing has been around for decades, with businesses using events to engage an audience in the experience of their products or services for hundreds of years. Indeed, in its simplest form, market traders of the Middle Ages in Europe understood that handing out samples or doing live demonstrations with their produce or wares gathered crowds and resulted in sales.
Nowadays, experiential events are being done in much cooler, more innovative, responsive and deeply immersive ways, cleverly using new technology, engaging the public in their product or brand and using digital social media to extend the reach, sometimes to millions, online.
How does this affect an everyday event?
Not everyone is launching a new product, but taking lessons from experiential marketing events you can create an event that has real impact. This will not only amplify the outcome for you and the attendees, but will have people talking about it for ages to come, spreading your messages, whether internally within your organisation or externally to your clients or industry. The result of a truly positive and enjoyable experience is a (sometimes deeply) emotional connection to the brand the attendee experienced, in a way only a live event can. Getting your event right is therefore crucial to how people FEEL about your organisation, regardless whether they are staff or clients.
What can we learn?
Not everyone has huge budget, clearly, but borrow some of the principles from experiential marketing and you can be onto a winner for your event – not just adding sparkle, but an emotional connection to your brand, business or event messages. Here’s my top 5 lessons with some examples…
Going solo to claim all the glory for yourself is tempting, and you need to make sure that you’re recognised for the effort and budget you’re spending and get the impact and results you want of course, but so much more can be gained by partnering up. Samsung’s launch of 3D TV’s in Times Square included an impromptu concert by The Black Eyed Peas, and was filmed by Avatar and Titanic Director, James Cameron, and streamed live across the internet – way to hold a party! Huge brand agencies were involved to provide ideas and put together the magic. Media partners and associated brands, authorities, and third parties all helped and got their slice in return. Even James Cameron got to promote the 3D launch of Avatar, The Black Eyed Peas took to Twitter to promote the concert and the live stream of it that was available online, to millions of followers.
Now, you don’t need multi-millions, but who’s supporting you? Who can you align with so some of their success rubs off on you? Who can you engage to create something bigger than the sum of its parts and reach audiences or create impact you simply couldn’t on your own?
Great results come from being aligned and on point. Know what your aiming to achieve and get your message right and clear. If any potential activities detract from it, don’t do it. It can be hard when the Finance Director really wants to share his annual projections with the throng, but how relevant is it, and if it is, how can it be done so it has impact? Make sure partners are aligned, speaker’s themes keep to your message, and stay on track. It should be clear why are people attending your event, who is involved and what people are going home with. This same clarity needs to run right through the event branding from the initial invite, to online promotions, booking confirmations, the event welcome and reception, throughout the event, the take home, and follow up too – just like a Disney holiday.
Adding a dose of the out-of-the-ordinary to your event and giving people something they didn’t expect is a key to experiential events. This is something that works very well in any event or conference. People want to be wowed, even if not in the sense of a shock and awe stunt or over the top nice-to have. It could be something incredibly impressive, the attendance of someone with an extraordinary message, or the investment in the attendee’s pleasure. People are taking time out of their work or home time to come, so it should be useful AND enjoyable use of that time, even if they are your own staff on paid work time. A&P Tyne, the shipbuilder of a small part of the British Navy’s new QE2 Aircraft Carrier, undertook a commemorative launch event including a real-life walk-around of the ship’s decks complete with a dinner inside the vessel on the quay, attended and addressed by Admiral Sir George Michael Zambellas, the First Sea Lord and Chief of HM Royal Navy. All of this kept a surprise to attendees until they arrived – an achievement for a small company that got them regional and national press and media coverage.
What can people see, feel, taste or hear at your event that is not only aligned with your objectives and reinforces the key messages but gets them remembering it and sharing it too?
It is a given that any successful event campaign needs to have a strong social media and online presence, and even internal conferences are greatly improved with the use of clear communication through one of the plethora of online event management tools to coordinate and provide information to attendees.
One thing many experiential marketing events do well is to use new technologies in the delivery of the event itself.
The use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) through chips and readers can not only enhance attendees experience but give you invaluable data as an event organiser. Even simple additions like interactive Q&A’s can be lifted with the use of a Mic Ball – adding a bit of fun to the audience and preventing pregnant pauses in proceedings while organisers run around the conference hall with roaming mics. Many speakers understand that we are long tired of the “hands up” approach to audience interaction and have invested in cool apps that can feed live audience participation directly to conference screens in real time (as well as again capturing great data for you). Ask your event partners, the venue, speakers, or AV teams what they have got up their sleeve to help make the technological experience pop.
During the event design and planning process try to imagine the event through the eyes of your attendees. Experiential marketers will have a proper storyboard for their events so they can estimate the experience. For years my event management company has won work on doing this simple task for clients in our tenders, that most competitors just don’t do. This isn’t just a schedule, it’s a documented experience of the event through the minds-eye of an attendee.
Do a story board of your event from start to finish, imagining you are attending the event yourself. Add pictures, diagrams, bullets. Explain what you see, hear, experience. What’s the atmosphere like, and why? What grabs your attention? Depending how creative you are, you might want to do it as a great big, hand-drawn spider-gram with pictures stuck to it or maybe even put it together as a presentation so it is easy to share and present to any clients, stakeholders, committees, sponsors or simply the boss, if required.
This process helps you identify elements you may have added that just don’t fit (maybe sack the fire-eaters) and gaps that may need reinforcing. You can test whether your theme and messages are being promoted and absorbed, and see where fatigue might kick in so you can add those energising sessions.
For help with your event, and guidance on creating that unforgettable event experience give me a call at Encore Speakers –