Experiential Event Marketing: Set Up Your Brand for Success (8 Do's, 4 Don'ts)

Regarding the effectiveness of experiential marketing, the numbers speak for themselves. According to the CVENT 2018 Global Planner Sourcing Report, 54% of marketers said their budgets for events have increased over the last year, and EventTrack 2018 report found that 69% of people attend events to shop for products or services.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that tradeshows, conferences, and just about all live events have become essential tools for implementing exceptional marketing strategies. No other medium works better to create an emotional bond between your brand and its customers and prospects.

Of course, as with any marketing strategy, there are right ways and wrong ways to approach live events.

Marketers must have a solid road map that will allow them to take advantage of every benefit that events have to offer. If you keep the following dos and don’ts in mind when implementing your next experiential marketing strategy, you will be in a great position to optimize your return on investment and meet your brand’s goals.

8 Do’s

Make sure your live experience aligns with your brand messaging and supports your overall marketing strategy. Continuity in communication helps you avoid confusion and promotes customer advocacy, so be sure to employ messaging that is currently being used in your other media.

Choose the right kind of event. Tradeshows are the most popular for business-to-business marketers because they allow you access to large groups of prospective and existing clients, but there are several options: pop-ups, mobile tours, road shows, luncheons, seminars, on-site user conferences, and more. Whatever your choice, it should fit your overall marketing strategy and budget.

Consider the wants and needs of your attendees above all else. After all, they are the reason for investing in the event to begin with. The more you know about your clients and prospects, the better you’ll be at creating messages that resonate, impress, and persuade. For marketers , attendee empathy means knowing what a customer desires and seeing the product or service through their eyes.

Create emotionally charged designs and messages that trigger the right responses. The American poet Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That’s great advice for event managers. Use emotional triggers to guide the attendee on their journey to a successful outcome for your brand.

Appeal to the five senses to make your messages more effective. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch—each activates our emotions. No senses triggered in your event? No emotion. Marketing research has shown that the more senses activated, the more powerful the emotional response. Include the use of video, product demonstrations, and even attendee comfort stations.

Create opt-in engagement activations to capture attendee data. According to research from Bizzabo, 68% of B2B marketers agree that live events help generate the most leads. Don’t lose your chance to capture valuable data when it’s readily available.

Today’s technologies make it easy to collect and disseminate attendee data. Notebooks and tablets allow data collection in any place at any time; games, surveys, and innovative uses of media can help you collect data while an attendee is immersed in your communications.

Moreover, RFID, mobile apps, QR codes, magnetic strips, and other technologies can automatically collect lead data and other pertinent information.

Conduct effective post-show follow-up, marketing, and communication. This step is vital. Even though 85% of consumers say they are likely to purchase after attending an event and 91% say they have more positive feelings about brands after an event, without post-event communication from you they still might forget about you. In fact, only 6% of marketers say their company converts tradeshow leads, contacts, and face-to-face conversations into customer business “extremely well.” In my experience, the element that they’re often missing is effective follow-up communication.

Train your staff and brand ambassadors. Research has shown that 81% of attendees interact with a brand’s sales and marketing staff, 79% with its technical staff, and 72% with company executives. Accordingly, training should be a major part of every event strategy. Aside from product and service training, basic client etiquette should be part of your pre-event preparations.

4 Don’ts

Don’t engage attendees without a plan. This happens more often than you might think… When you don’t preplan, things usually turn out poorly for the attendee, the staff, and, of course, the brand.

Don’t inundate attendees with information, especially if it is not specific to your strategy. Concise, interesting, and relevant always outperform volume.

Don’t ignore attendees. All too often, event staff will be talking to one another, or they’ll be on their mobile phones while attendees wait. That’s rude on a personal level, and it leaves a poor impression of the brand, too. As I noted earlier, a little etiquette education goes a long way.

Don’t overlook the small details. Simple things like coffee stains on tables, brochures on the floor, or messy welcome desks make poor impressions and damage the brand image.

* * *

Creating an emotional experience with maximum impact requires a comprehensive and multifaceted approach. Even though your investment in a brand experience can be significant, live events—when done thoroughly and thoughtfully—can produce a higher return on investment than many other traditional marketing strategies.

Keep these tips in mind, and your next experiential events will set your brand up for success.

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