Create a More “Experienced” Event
Most of us have heard how important branding is to a new or existing company, but how often do you think about branding for an event or conference?
Branding is the foundation for engaging your audience, triggering emotional responses within your customers, and getting people to talk (more importantly to promote) your event… for free!
A little branding 101: branding is NOT a logo. While it’s a piece of the puzzle, a true brand is the total package of a customer’s experience and perceptions – some you can control and some you cannot. Branding, a key element of event marketing, can be tricky because it is important to not only communicate the message and goals of the event itself, but it’s also essential to weave in the message and goals of the event organizer. Ideally both messages are similar, streamlining this process.
Communicating an event’s message has moved from broadcasting its logo all over your event website and other event materials to creating unique experiences that form an emotional bond with each attendee. (By the way don’t forget to check out 5 Event and Conference Website Must Haves) This means creating a personality and sense of purpose for the event to create a strong message that lasts long after the event is over.
The Rise of Experiential Marketing
Instead of looking at your audience as passive receivers of your event’s message, they should be actively involved in developing a relationship with your event’s brand. The question then is how do we achieve this? Read on for four things to keep in mind as you plan your event:
- Define the purpose of your event: Planning a successful event starts with defining the overall goal. What is the primary purpose of the event? Is it to inform and educate? Inspire or motivate? Network or make money? When the event is over, how is success defined? Even if your event occurs every year, it’s important to examine what the marketing and sales goals are each year and then to design the event tactics around those goals in order to drive success.
- Establish who will attend your event: Who do you expect will attend and what do you expect them to feel and understand in order to act on your event objective(s)? Creating a personalized, multi-sensory experience will connect and motivate your audience, encouraging them to re-attend or refer your event to others.
- Create the experience with the five senses in mind:
- See: You get one chance to make a first impression. Before any of the other senses are engaged, your audience will see the stage you’ve set for them. Does the visual representation match your event’s objective? A speed networking event should be clean and organized. An event showcasing a new Jeep Wrangler should look adventurous and rugged, while an event showcasing a Bentley should look luxurious.
- Hear: Music has the power to be engaging or distracting. Picking the right music and making sure the volume is set appropriately is critical.
- Smell: Sensitivity to smell can be a distracting factor if not taken into consideration and unfavorable smells can detract from the experience. Put some thought into the aroma during your event.
- Taste: People love to eat. If your food represents your event, rather than just being a part of it, your guests will remember. Make sure the food and drink is the highest quality possible.
- Touch: Textures, comfort, climate is how your guests interact with the environment and should be evaluated. Giving your attendees something to physically hold (i.e. brochures, free samples, etc.), can drive value perception. Making your audience comfortable, and engaged, will enhance the experience.
- Create interactions: From breaks to lunches, make sure there’s plenty of time for people to meet, talk and network. More importantly, picking purposeful speakers who interact and engage the audience is a better approach than just picking speakers based on name recognition.
While focusing on creating an experience for your audience can enhance the success of your event marketing and ultimately your event, sacrificing your brand in order to create this environment can be detrimental. Remember, the overall objective is to create an experience that fully engages the audience while developing a loyalty to your brand. By ensuring that your brand and the audience experience works hand-in-hand, you’re able to bring together an audience that’s shares the same values and motivates them to take action.