12 Oct The importance of putting experience at the heart of your event
We’re currently working with Dorset Business Awards and planning the awards ceremony with them in our role as brand communication partner. This has got us thinking about the whole event experience and what makes it successful. So, we thought we’d share our thoughts to help you with your next event.
A brand will not survive by just creating a logo, colour or typeface. In this brand engagement era, it is essential to reach out beyond a brands visual elements and create an emotive, relevant and authentic story that resonates and leaves lasting impressions and memories amongst your audience. Brands are bringing their story to life by creating unforgettable experiences that keep people engaged and talking. Before we know it, we are avid fans and start spreading the word through social media and through word of mouth and recommendation. This is how brands truly ‘earn’ their media.
One of the greatest opportunities to create brand experiences are through live events where you have the chance to make an impact with your target audience in real time, face to face.
When planning, you need to bear in mind that you should be designing an end to end experience that engages attendees before, during and after the event.
Connecting with your audience
We have established that live events have the power to connect brands with their audience in meaningful ways that are measurable. Events can effectively drive understanding and advocacy amongst brands’ target audiences, and if executed well can build valuable and lasting relationships.
The way to do this is to flesh out the wider campaign and message and use the event as part of the engagement piece. Pre – promote it and use it to get attention, for example you could create a competition to win VIP tickets to attend.
When people are there, make it as immersive as possible and offer something memorable that is outside the range of normal experience. If your live brand experience is alluring and integrated online – with some creative strategic thinking at the early stages, you will most certainly generate organic social sharing, viral buzz and media coverage before, during and post event. Not only that, but you will keep people interested over a longer period of time and beyond the event itself.
Leave no touchpoint unexplored
When creating that brand experience, consider the interests and challenges of the attendees. Think about what their aspirations and build the experience around that. At every single touchpoint, from arrival to the main event space, the messaging, design and branding should be incorporated to create as much impact as possible.
A consumer journey throughout the event should feel like an adventure, take creative risks but be mindful not to go too far outside of your audiences’ comfort zone otherwise you risk the experience having an adverse effect.
Remain authentic. The entire event experience needs to reflect your brand tone, message and values to feel both organic and relevant.
Integrate digital effectively
Create an even richer brand experience by tailoring your offering to an individual’s own needs and interests with hyper-personalisation. Directly addressing your audience’s needs and interests makes them feel valued, further developing their affinity to your brand.
If it is an integrated and interactive part of the event experience, technology can be an effective way to connect and engage. The convergence of both digital and physical experiences has become commonplace in our daily lives, so build it into the event experience itself and use it to further connect beyond the event.
Going beyond the event.
The reach of your event isn’t limited just to those attending. We’re living in a connected world and there are endless ways to go beyond the event itself.
Create an event hashtag and encourage the sharing of user generated content (UGC) with the hashtag on channels such as Twitter and Instagram. This will help you to track the conversation around your event and curate stories. An added benefit of hashtags is that it can increase brand awareness, in that anyone who sees the hashtag can view other posts with the hashtag and engage in that conversation.
Once the event is over you have an opportunity to keep the conversation going. Follow up email marketing can be a great way to thank attendees and share news from the event. If you’ve taken any photos or videos, be sure to share these too. You could even incentivise the sharing of UGC with a contest – perhaps winning tickets to a future event or something similar that will nurture that relationship between your brand and the audience.
Learn from the experience
Every single event that you create is an opportunity to learn and by applying a data-driven strategy to the event planning process, it will allow the brand to maximise activations and create the maximum ROI.
Throughout the whole process, try to gather as much data as possible. This will enable you to apply insight and past experience when shaping future events and make it truly successful.