As consumers continue to ignore digital marketing channels and clamor for more unique and personal experiences, brands are turning to event marketing to reach consumers face to face. 41% of marketers consider event marketing the most effective channel for driving business outcomes, and 41% of consumers say events help them understand the benefits of products and services.
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While event marketing helps brands build product awareness, reintroduce themselves to existing audiences, and meet new customers, it takes more than a booth at an industry event to earn a positive ROI. If event marketing is a priority this year, read these dos and don’ts to maximize your results.
1. Create Pre-Event Buzz On Social Media
The ways you promote your presence at an event can impact success, which may explain why many event creators are increasing their event promotion budget. To ensure your event resources won’t go to waste, work with influencers to produce sponsored content that creates a buzz around your brand. Stick to micro-influencers, as they have a more dedicated following. Align with your temporary brand ambassador to make sure all posts are labeled as sponsored content and collaborate on a branded hashtag for all relevant posts.
L’Oréal sponsored nine influencers from the digital beauty community to promote its presence at BeautyCon. Each influencer contributed one or two sponsored posts to the campaign and included branded hashtags like #lorealxbeautycon, #lorealparis, #lorealpartner, and #beautyconla to drum up excitement for the brand and event.
Build anticipation on social media by showing behind-the-scenes preparations and subtly promoting your presence at an event on your social media accounts. Create a countdown or drop hints on what attendees will gain by stopping by your booth. Keep the momentum going throughout the event with upbeat posts.
Don’t Be Late: Don’t wait until the last minute to promote your presence. Starting early will help your brand stay top of mind and increase traffic to your booth. Though tempting (and inexpensive), don’t rely on social media alone to promote your event. Use a mixture of social media, discovery websites, and email marketing to inform consumers of your event attendance.
2. Brand Activations
With event attendees craving emotive experiences that engage them on a deeper level, brand activations can capture attention and leave participants with a positive impression of your brand.
To create memorable experiences and increase product recall, make sure your brand activations use a mixture of elements like visuals, textures, and music to deliver a multi-sensory experience. Juicy Couture’s Glacé Getaway at Refinery29’s 29Rooms event gave visitors a tropical vacation fantasy vision, and featured a large snow globe where they could become part of the popular getaway souvenir.
Your brand activation doesn’t have to be complex. It can be a simple service that solves a problem for event attendees like free Wifi, charging spaces, or a misting station. To keep WayHome Music and Art Festival goers cool, Vitaminwater built a human car wash.
Allow guests to capture their unique experiences by including a social element, such as a photo booth where attendees can share their experiences on their preferred networks. RFID can capture attendee data and track how they engage with your activations in real time.
Don’t Be Gimmicky: While branded activations will help you capture attention at crowded events, don’t distract attendees from your actual message through cheap gimmicks. Stick to an activation that corresponds to the event and reveals how your products work or educates audiences about your brand.
3. Choose The Right Event
While potential venues range from BeautyCon to SXSW and beyond, keep in mind that events have different audiences and values, and that not every event will be a good fit for your brand. Before you commit, think about who your customer is and what kind of events they’re most likely to attend.
For events already on your radar, ask the organizers ask how they measure the success of an event, how many years they’ve been in production, and for additional information on the demographic and psychographic characteristics of their audience and social reach. Stay involved in the event process and collaborate with event organizers on how best to maximize your event goals.
The organizers of BeautyCon showed potential sponsors what they will gain by including data about their attendees in their media kit:
4. Hold A Mini Event
If you have a sizeable event marketing budget, piggyback off a bigger production and hold your own mini event. A mini event gives you in-person access to new and existing customers and can help you drive sales, as 85% of consumers are likely to purchase after participating in events and experiences.
During the SXSW Wellness Expo, Lululemon organized daily meditation and multi-sensory yoga classes called the Sweatlife House to help attendees relax, recharge, and connect with their mission.
Whether throwing a party, organizing workout sessions, or conducting any other attraction, remember to keep it as unique as possible, use a hashtag to encourage additional conversations, and harness event technology to monitor engagement. Pro tip: make sure you have knowledgeable staff on the ground to answer consumers’ questions or share exciting news and updates about your brand.
Don’t Be Salesy: People go to events to connect, so don’t overwhelm them with marketing campaigns. Rather, deliver authentic in-person brand experiences and let them encounter your brand in a stress-free manner. A hands-off approach is probably best here so that customers feel empowered (not pressured) to make a purchase.
5. Be ROI-Driven
Like every other form of marketing, it’s important to see results from your event strategy. Set realistic and targeted goals upfront and ensure that your team is on board. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Once the event has wrapped, review your goals and examine which of them were met, which were missed, and where there’s room for improvement.
While there is no shortage of trackable metrics, stick to those that match your goals. For instance, if your goal for sponsoring an event is to build awareness, focus on the number of social media impressions and website visits.
Don’t Ignore ‘Return on Experience’: While ROI is important, calculate your return on experience (ROE) to find out if you’re delivering a unique and optimized experience for attendees who interact with your brand.
6. Make A Lasting Impression with Swag
Love it or hate it, swag still has a place in event marketing. The right giveaways can help enhance an amazing experience and keep customers from forgetting your brand. Nearly 7 in 10 brands consider promotional products effective in achieving marketing goals and 82% of consumers have a more favorable impression of brands that offer them.
Instead of giving away stationary or scratchy T-shirts, offer attendees functional and share-worthy swag that has actual utility and can be easily integrated into everyday life.
For truly memorable giveaways, make sure your swag reflects your brand’s mission statement and values. If you’re attending a small event with a fixed guest list, consider personalizing your swag and using RFID technology to prevent attendees from taking multiple bags. Use audience data to develop an event persona, choosing products based on the insights gathered.
Don’t Give Swag For Free: Rather than doling out gifts for free, make attendees earn your giveaways. You can ask them to complete a survey, download your app, or provide their email address in exchange for swag. To redeem free Vitaminwater samples at the WayHome Music and Art Festival, attendees had to register their RFID wristband with their details online.
Maintain The Momentum
If you’re able to indulge your audience’s inner playfulness, event marketing can help you reach current and potential customers and increase sales. Research the event’s mission statement and thematic elements ahead of time to see if you’d be a good fit, and include a post-event plan to further engage attendees and keep interest strong – well after the last participant has left the venue.
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