When Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s), Brand Managers, marketing professionals, and management teams are faced with dozens of different types of marketing strategies for their brand, they can easily become overwhelmed. Many consider traditional marketing and digital marketing, such as social media marketing, building a website, and more, all to improve their business and drive sales.
While a digital marketing plan has a crucial spot in any branding and marketing strategy, real-life marketing tactics shouldn’t be overlooked. Event marketing and experiential marketing create experiences for your consumers; they leave lasting impressions that you won’t achieve with any other type of marketing plan. Branded events and experiences inspire and motivate your consumers to take action and directly engage with your brand, building an emotional connection, and providing great lead generation benefits.
In this blog post, we are going to discuss event marketing, why it is important for your brand, and how you can benefit from an unconventional marketing strategy that includes event marketing.
What Is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is a type of marketing where your brand takes part in an event. You can be the organizer of the event with your brand’s products or services at the center of it, but you can also be a participant at an event or a sponsor of it. These can be face-to-face or online events.
You can set up a large variety of events for your brand. They range from marketing conferences, trade shows, stand-alone or co-sponsored events to celebrations, product launch galas, pop-up shops, and sampling events. You can organize a local event if you run a local business or a virtual event if you’re focused on marketing technology. Consider your goals – do you want to educate your target audience? Do you wish to encourage attendees to purchase your brand’s products? Or are you more interested in imaginatively telling your brand’s story?
Marketing events can amaze, inspire, inform, provide support, reassure, and cause a whole host of other emotions within your consumer if appropriately executed. Take the example of Comfort, the fabric softener brand, and their Swap Shop pop-up event. In partnership with Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Oxfam, this brand organized an event where consumers could come and swap their clothes for other second-hand items. The goal of the event was to spread awareness of the importance of second-hand buying and up-cycling. The consumers had the opportunity to let go of clothes they no longer wanted in favor of new-to-them pieces while learning more about sustainability in fashion. Unique, exciting, and educational!
The purpose of a branding and marketing event is to drive consumers to your brand, help them connect with it, and to spread the word about your brand both online and offline. As in the case of Comfort (along with Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Oxfam), live events are an excellent way to express what your brand stands for in the grand scheme of things. Comfort emphasizing fashion sustainability is something that a lot of consumers can get behind and show their support for.
How Is Event Marketing Different?
Consider the average consumer. Each day they are bombarded with up to ten thousand ads from all sides – billboards, posters, social media ads, TV commercials, even Spotify ads in the middle of their favorite Workplace Chill playlist. With such a relentless downpour of ads, it is no wonder that the consumer scrolls past or doesn’t even register most of them. No one has the mental capacity to devote even a millisecond of their attention to every ad they come across.
At the end of 2019, an estimated 527M people used mobile adblockers by default, a staggering 64% increase since 2016. In this day and age, the average consumer is looking to minimize their exposure to ads as much as they can, and we can’t blame them.
To help your brand rise above the rest and help consumers take notice of it, you need something that grabs their attention. Social media ads and online advertising are no longer enough – you need to invest in a bold campaign that wows the target audiences. Event marketing (and by extension, experiential marketing) is the ideal option for this since it will provide attendees with an entire brand experience. Branded events allow people to take a break from their lives and entirely devote their attention to your company and brand messages you are trying to convey.
Consumers agree that, together with a brand website, event and experiential marketing are the top two most important branding and marketing channels a brand could integrate into their campaign. If you’re looking to break through the avalanche of ads and make your consumers remember your brand name, event marketing is the way to go.
The Benefits of Event Marketing
- Increasing customer engagement
A crucial part of event marketing is engaging your prospects and customers. In stark contrast to the digital indifference described above, an in-person event will provide attendees with the opportunity to form in-person connections that are infinitely more valuable. (93% of consumers agree.) Relationship building is the foundation of brand loyalty, customer satisfaction, and lead generation. A marketing event provides a personalized customer experience that allows those customers to get to know your brand.
Set up an event that tells the story of your brand. This story can be about its beginnings – how it grew into the business it is today, but it can also be about the overall brand messages and what it is fighting for in this harsh world. By allowing consumers to take a peek behind the curtain and learn more about your brand than just its name and product list, you are forming emotional connections, growing relationships, and increasing customer loyalty.
Attendee engagement is useful to track as a KPI for event success. Moreover, you can consider driving more engagement by using a mobile event app.
- Building brand awareness
Event marketers list ‘building brand awareness’ as their number one reason for organizing marketing events. And it is true; alongside content marketing, these events are a useful tool in spreading the word about your brand and getting more people to recognize it. After all, you can’t hope to improve sales and earn more profit if consumers aren’t even aware that your brand exists. A well-organized content marketing strategy can help you achieve that.
Event organizers will tell you that a sampling campaign is a great option to increase brand awareness. Consumers will be excited about trying your product for free, and you can make it an unforgettable customer experience for them. Take a look at Ben and Jerry’s pop-up carnival, where attendees got to ride carnival rides and try ice cream for free. The event ensured a fun day for the whole family and doubtlessly brought in many potential customers for the ice cream powerhouse.
- Word of mouth marketing
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tactic, as part of your brand strategy, that can exponentially increase brand awareness and attract new customers and prospects. Nowadays, word of mouth is mostly confined to social media marketing channels. Event attendees like to share their unique experiences and post about the event on various platforms, sparking interest in their friends and followers. The more satisfied the attendees are, the more inclined they will become brand ambassadors and talk about your brand and what a great time they had at the event.
Social media engagement can be another significant KPI to determine your event ROI. To make it easy to follow what your attendees are saying, create an event hashtag that you can also use for promoting your event.
- Social marketing
Lastly, event and experiential marketing don’t have to be used only in commercial marketing. The effectiveness of these marketing strategies in improving business is undeniable, but they can also be used for the greater good.
Social marketing focuses on achieving a non-commercial goal that benefits society as a whole. It is often implemented by public health agencies to encourage the population (consumers) to get vaccinated, wear sunscreen, and rationally use antibiotics, but also by other institutions that want their consumers to recycle, clean up litter, secure their children in car seats while driving, and more. An event that focuses on social good has more impact on raising awareness for the cause as well as getting more people involved in the movement than traditional marketing efforts.
It is evident that event marketing is quickly becoming a staple marketing strategy in campaigns with a wide range of goals. Your business could greatly benefit from it, regardless of the product or service you’re offering.
If you want to work directly with an accomplished experiential marketing agency with 25 years of experience, don’t hesitate to reach out. Pro Motion is an industry leader in creating engaging, unique experiences and effective marketing campaigns. Give us a call at 636.577.8507.Learn More About Experiential Marketing from PMI President Steve Randazzo in his book Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World. Click here to download 2 free chapters.