To date in my marketing career, I have had the great opportunity to assist and / or manage engaging events. They ranged from webinars (complete with a cornucopia of virtual food for the attendees lol); speaking engagements; 2- and 3-day, sales-representative seminars; local, national and international trade shows; an 800+ attendee annual gala awards evening; to a nationally and internationally attended 50th company anniversary celebration, which was held in Niagara Falls (to coincide with the trade show in Toronto) and planned in BC. Also, I have had the opportunity to be a photographer at many events that included weddings, fashion shows, and a renowned charity, to name a few.
Whether partaking in an event as a marketer, or photographer, one needs to execute the planning with meticulous details in mind as if to write a script for the entire event. Further, during the event itself, one requires to be quick on their feet expecting, and positively reacting, to anything that requires immediate attention not written in the script. For example, not having the ability to initially visit the venue, I only noticed this when we arrived on site the day prior to the event; but the Niagara Falls celebration offered us a room that had ample space between attendees. Despite the event being well attended by company staff and sales reps from various parts of the world, the extra space depicted otherwise. Venue crowd spacing should portray a well attended event, no one wants to attend an empty event lacking people. So, we divided the room in half to minimize large gaps between the attendees. Whatever the theme of an event, with attendees present, there’s always a sense of excitement.
There was an event marketing case study I read a few years back outlining a radical idea. The marketer had the concept of a company withholding its advertising spending until the Summer Olympics. From what I recall, he used Ford as an example of the company that would purchase all Olympic sponsorships in the form of tv / radio commercials, outdoor signage, basically all forms of tie ins with the game. Then, after the games, he suggested that every Ford sales person treat a customer for lunch with the objective of pitching Ford’s lineup of cars—in hopes of landing a sale.
Live experiences, whether it’s meeting a person over lunch, attending a concert or sporting event is always memorable. For example, I know people who’ve shared their experience with me in attending Superbowl games. In fact, one story involved an associate (former sales rep for a former company I once worked for, to be exact), sitting as a guest in the family box of his former brother-in-law Brian Bellick, who was then the coach of the Baltimore Ravens that were victorious in SB XXXV over the NY Giants. Now how memorable is that? Even the story was memorable to me, despite only being told about it.
During a live event, the true product / service offering, including the company’s brand ambassadors (staff and any other influencers), come to life before all eyes. At this moment, there’s no hiding behind slick ads, virtual monitors or a dramatic, Hal-Riney-like voiceover. The brand’s true essence will surface as the company engages in dialogue with existing and potential customers.
In closing, the idea behind events marketing is an experiential activity where the customer is engaged by the brand first hand—not through a tweet, for instance. The offering needs to live up to the sum of all the synergestic media efforts that came prior.