Event marketing is a tool in your communications toolbox. It’s a powerful one, too. The most important thing is to understand the outcome you want from doing an event.
1. Brand awareness
2. Drive more traffic to my website
3. Sell products
4. Teach people about what I do
Next, decide where you want to activate. Festival and convention audiences vary. Consider carefully. There is no sense in spending the cash to rent a space if the audience you are activating for has no interest in what your brand has to offer. This is where brand strategy and a strong understanding of your target audience come into play. Give yourself plenty of time to plan your activation. Printing and installations take some lead time to get right. The next step is where it gets fun. Brainstorm engaging ways you can achieve your defined outcome at your chosen event by creating a space for your customers to interact with your brand. Caution to whatever you implement, be genuine to your brand’s values. People see through pandering to a cause. And make sure there is a clear tie between your objective, your brand, and the activation you present. If it isn’t clear to you, it won’t be to anyone else. Check out these case studies of outstanding event marketing experiences.
Event Marketing Technique: Immersion Case Study: Spatial
Spatial, an audio brand, created an immersive Spatial Holodeck Experience that attracted more than 2,000 SXSW attendees over four days in 2022. Their features included:
· Guided demos Interactive installations
· Hands-on opportunities to explore the tech
· Collaborative installations with Meow Wolf
· QR-code tech to activate visitors
Why it works: The entire experience was dynamic, powerful, and creative—a perfect fit for the SXSW audience where they had their space. Interactive event marketing invites the consumer into an experience. Often it includes photo ops and opportunities for them to share their experience with your brand with their network. It also gives event attendees a reason to stay in your space longer, giving you more options to expose them to your brand.
Event Marketing Technique: Fun nostalgia Case Study: The Peacock Playground at SXSW
We all love to feel like kids from time to time. Bring in the sense of whimsy, wonder, or just plain fun into your event space to attract people to your booth. NBC’s Peacock streaming service showed up with a pop-up lounge at SXSW 2022 to encourage visitors to get to know Peacock’s newest shows–remakes from the 90s. The Peacock Playground featured a music video maker with neon-filled spaces and the opportunity to shoot your own 1990s-style music video plus mazes, seesaws, an open bar, interactive displays, an oversized chessboard, and a custom T-shirt station, and more. Why it works: People come to events to be entertained, so entertain them! Wow, them with your brand’s particular version of fun. Take them back in time to someplace pleasant–in this case, for many hipsters, the 90s! This technique helps encourage attendees to stay in your space longer so you can show them more about your brand and products. Peacock aligned their goal of promoting upcoming remakes of beloved 90s shows with activities that provided a similar nostalgia. The connection helps the message stick.
Event Marketing Technique: Spectacle Case Study: Tinder Pride Slide
In 2019 at Pride events in New York City, Tinder put up a 30-foot “Pride Slide,” with “Slide Into Your Senators” written down the side. The slide length corresponded with the 30 states that didn’t have anti-discriminatory laws protecting the LGBTQ+ community. Tinder donated $10 toward passing the Equality Act for each person who rode the slide. Throughout the same summer of this event, they also offered free advertising to nonprofits that supported the LGBTQ+ community. Why it works: Spectacles make an impact and can usually be seen from a distance. This will attract people to your space. They are typically memorable and generate lots of user-generated content that works hard for your brand. Tinder also activated with a cause. One they support and show in their values. It feels genuine and provides a positive message attached to their brand that people can rally around.
There are many practical ways to activate a space beyond the three examples above. But what all three of these examples have in common is they leave attendees with something to talk about, putting your brand in the conversation and working hard for your awareness to spread and ultimately affect your bottom line. Once you know what the experience will look like for the consumer, you can fill out the design of the space by adding things like promotional takeaway items, signup forms, and other touches with brand-appropriate nods to help nudge the event goers toward your defined outcome. Make sure you take the time to think through the customer experience throughout the space, so you don’t miss out on any opportunities to make a good impression and capture their eye and information for follow-up later.
Author/Editor: Jennifer Hart
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