The shift towards experiential marketing

experiential marketingIt’s one thing to imagine that you are driving a sports car, it’s another to actually be behind wheel and hear the purring engine. It’s one thing to watch a billboard that invites you to visit the Canary Islands, it’s another to feel the sun comforting your skin. It’s one thing to see an online ad and it’s totally different to FEEL the benefits a product can give you.“…Involve me and I learn”, Benjamin Franklin’s quote can be adapted to the experiential marketing scene. “Involve me and I will see and feel how your product can help me”.

More and more brands are using experiences to create a bond between customers and the brand.  This is why I think that more and more event planners should be prepared to host experiential marketing events. Or to include experiential marketing campaigns as part of their existing events.

What is experiential marketing?

If we reach Wikipedia we will find that “Engagement marketing, sometimes called ‘experiential marketing’, ‘event marketing’, ‘on-ground marketing’, ‘live marketing’, ‘participation marketing’, or ‘special events’ is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience. Rather than looking at consumers as passive receivers of messages, engagement marketers believe that consumers should be actively involved in the production and co-creation of marketing programs, developing a relationship with the brand.”

By using experiential marketing brands want to create an emotional connection between themselves and the consumer, connection that most of the times have the power to transform customers into advocates of that particular brand. In a world where the new generation values experience more than things, it is only normal to value powerful memories more than ads and pop-ups.

Experiential marketing is based on one main idea: the live interaction between the potential consumer and the brand. Although we focus on organized events, (and how event planners can partner with brands to create branded events – or even to implement experiential marketing within an existing event) engagement marketing comes in different shapes.  Its purpose is to create a memorable experience, even though sometimes it may seem that there’s no direct connection with the brand itself. A wonderful example is the Piano Staircase, from Volkswagen, a campaign that at first has almost no connection with an automotive company. But innovation and fun will always stick to people’s minds, and this campaign was highly appreciated all over the world. A good experiential marketing campaign can be more powerful than any form of “classic” marketing.

An example of a great experiential marketing event is Smirnoff’s Comic Book party, where attendees walked into a…you guessed it. Whether you like comic books or not (if this is even possible) I think that walking into a Comic Book will make an impression. Will make you take pictures and share them. Will make you talk about the party. And definitely will make you remember the brand.

What about the numbers?

I know, the theory sounds good, but do the numbers support it? A study conducted by Mosaic and the Event Marketing Institute revealed that  74% of consumers said they are more likely to buy products after they had a quality experience within a branded event. Furthermore, 98% percent of consumers said they take at least one photo during experiential marketing events and all of them (100%) said they share this content!  

Event planners can create experiential marketing events from scratch for clients that understand the power of experiences. A bond between the consumer and the brand is more important than an individual sale made using an AdWords campaign. Don’t get me wrong, keyword campaigns are very important, but their direct effect is different from that of an experiential marketing campaign. Aiming for different objectives, but not excluding each other).

Experiential marketing campaigns can also be integrated into already existing events. Festivals and conferences offer brands the chance to interact with a large number of people that are craving for memorable experiences (this is why they are there in the first place).

Oveit will support your efforts

Using a smart event management software, like Oveit, you will be able to make the experience even more memorable (especially through NFC technology). As you probably know, you can set up cashless payment systems to reduce queues, a very important aspect related to attendees’ overall satisfaction. But for experiential marketing events NFC wristbands can also be used for:

Gamification: the NFC chip is paired with the ticket (that acts like an account) and attendees can use it and mark different checkpoints in the game. You can also use them for interactive screens, to connect the character in the game with your attendee.

Perks: the wristbands can store perks (gifts, promotional merchandise, etc) and attendees can claim them by simply tapping the wristband to a reader/NFC-ready mobile device. We all like surprises, so why don’t you and your partners use it to create an even more memorable experience?

Data transfer: the NFC chip can be used by attendees to transfer their information to the brand that hosts the experiential marketing campaign. It’s easier than ever, with a simple tap, and the best part is that the transfer works both ways: the attendee can receive an email with a link that opens his/her way to new memorable experiences (for example, a registration link to an exclusivist party, sent only to those that take part at this experiential campaign hosted at a large conference).

We see how more and more brands are turning towards experiential marketing campaigns, and how more and more people appreciate the work event planners put in. Shifting our attention towards real experiences can only enrich us and more and more people will focus on feelings and memories. So be prepared, event planners.

Why and when to use conference apps? Partner spotlight: mReady Meet

For the past years we’ve worked with some of the best minds in mobile app development: our partners at mReady. Given the rise in mobile apps usage at conferences, we’ve asked them for some tips. In this interview you’ll find out how and when should event planners use conference apps.

1. How and why did you start building Meet?

Six years ago, when mobile apps were just on the rise and we were just beginning our journey as mReady, we thought would be a good idea to build an app for a conference some of our friends were organizing. So we did.

Over the next 3-4 year we have been constantly improving it, based on the feedback we got from the conference attendees and organizers. A couple of years ago someone approached us to request a similar app for their conference. Shortly after we did that, other requests for event mobile apps started popping up. It was a sign the time had come to take the next step and bring Meet to the market.

Mready meet team

2. What was the toughest challenge in building a product that fits the event planners’ needs?

The main challenge in building Meet was meeting the users’ needs. How do you manage to offer an outstanding event experience to the attendees, while also giving organizers the proper tool they need?

You cannot only focus on one aspect of the product, because if attendees don’t like it, they won’t use it, hence the organizers efforts won’t be paying off. Likewise, if the organizers can’t see the benefits for them and their attendees, they won’t know why request it.

3. Is there an event size where you would recommend conferences to start using mobile apps?

There are a few parameters to take into account when deciding whether to use a mobile app at an event. Some of them are the number of attendees expected, the number of days, stages and locations.

For a 1 day – 1 stage event dedicated to less than 100 people, there is very little to no need for an app. As the number of days, stages and / or locations increases, so will the necessity for an app, in order to better and easily structure all the event information and pass it on. At events larger than 150-200 attendees, even if it’s a one day event, the networking component of a mobile app becomes super useful.

Mready Meet app

4. Where should event planners look for Return on Investment when launching conference apps (visitor satisfaction, loyalty, increased interaction etc.)?

Because of the relatively high cost for a mobile app, it’s good to make sure it will have a positive return on investment. Since we’re not talking about an ecommerce app, it can be difficult to identify the right metrics to take into account for ROI.

However, there are a few elements that are worth considering. Since the smartphone is usually at an arm’s reach, it’s easy to get real-time content feedback from the attendees. By being able to communicate in real time all the event info, a mobile app contributes to building trust towards the event brand, increasing brand awareness.

For recurring events, an branded mobile app can also be turned into another promotional tool. Still, the most important element to focus on is the community. By facilitating meaningful connections between event attendees, a mobile app is addressing the very need for belongingness, which is one of the five primary human needs, and has become increasingly important in present times.

5. What should any event planner know before requesting a mobile app?

With the ROI in mind, it’s worth mentioning that a conference app, just like most of the other mobile apps, is not a loyalty tool in itself.

Just because you own a conference app it doesn’t mean that people are going to fight to get it without any communication effort from your behalf. It is the event organizer’s job to promote the benefits of using the event app to their attendees. In order to help it meet the ROI goals, the app has to be intensely promoted. And this can add to the marketing effort event organizers already have.

6. Why are customized apps better than off-the-shelf conference apps?

When talking about the difference between an off-the-shelf standard mobile app versus a customized or branded one, there is no better or worse. It all depends on the organizer’s needs. An off-the-shelf app is usually less expensive, less customizable and could require more persuasion skills for the attendees to adopt it. Nonetheless, is can be a very good option for low budget event organizers who want to offer a mobile app experience. The are some very good options for non-branded event apps available.

On the other hand, a customized conference app is focused entirely on the event’s brand identity, with many options for customization. At the same time, it becomes an integral part of the event experience and would be adopted more easily by the attendees. The need to explain the benefits of using an app during the event to the attendees is still there, however it’s simpler to be integrated into the overall communication plan.


Here you go – 6 great tips from a great team. If you need to get more insights, be sure to visit their app page and ask for a call. They will be happy to walk you through the app’s features and you can get a feeling of how your event would benefit from it.

How will your event app increase attendee engagement?

Technology really changed the event management game. From ticketing, badges, or payments, to the way we gather information from our attendees, everything has changed due to tech.

The rise of smartphones offered event planners the chance of adding a new asset: the event app, a powerful tool when it comes to both gathering data and engaging attendees.

EVENT APP

Attendees engagement is crucial for every event planner. And event apps are great when it comes to measuring it. Further than the show/no-show rate, we all want to know if the attendees really were connected to our event. What are they curious about? What made them lose interest? And the event app is able to gather this information for you. You will know how many people downloaded the app, how many accounts have been activated, what messages generate interest and much more. All with the help of the app’s reports and analytics. But first things first:

What is customer engagement?

Customer engagement is best defined by the guys at Intercom in their powerful “Customer engagement” ebook:

“Communicating with your customer over the course of their lifecycle to help them get to the outcome that they want”. I really love the way they put the customer first. “To get the outcome that they want!” So the best practices involve putting your customer at the center of your activity. I am sure it is not the first time you hear this idea, but it can’t harm to hear it once more. When sketching the app for your event, ask yourself: How will it help attendees? How easily can someone create an account? What’s the added value for my guests?

Event app prior to the event

You can encourage your attendees to install the app just after they buy the ticket and supply them valuable information prior to the event. But try not to overwhelm them with your messages and send only valuable information (otherwise, why would they use it?).

Make sure you provide a schedule for the event and info about the speakers/artist, this is something most people will find extremely useful.

Using the app during the event 

The best moment to engage your attendees is, of course, during your event. But make sure you don’t use it to distract them, or it may backfire. Social media integration will help your attendees’ networking efforts, but at the same time can be used to create buzz around your event.

Gamification will motivate engagement and at the same time will help your attendees network. And considering that events are based on experiences more than anything else, it is a great way to ensure a level of loyalty from your guests.  

But don’t create an event app just for gamification, a smart event management app – like Oveit – can be used for gamification without the cost of another app.

Use polls and survey to increase engagement 

What is the best way to find out what your customers really want? By simply asking them. If you can’t read minds, of course. Remember using paper and pen for surveys and polls, asking attendees to “keep one and hand the rest to the person in your left/right/back”. Those days are over and now everybody can vote or offer feedback using the event app, in a much simpler manner. For both attendees and organizers.

Offer certification for your attendees

If your event has seminar sessions hosted by certified trainers your attendees can receive a certification for attending them. And your event app can help you automate this process and send the certification to your attendees. Simply connect their personal profiles to a specific seminar and they will be able to receive the diploma when the seminar is over. You can use the app to test their skills and give certification only to those that have answered correctly to a certain number of questions.

The event app will increase the engagement of your attendees and will help you collect relevant data about your guests. But when aiming for increased customer engagement remember to use your energy so that the attendees get the outcome that they want. And the app makes no exception.

Event spotlight: Mind the Product

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing James Mayes, CEO and co-founder at Mind the Product. You can follow James on Twitter to get insights on Product Management and how to build products that people love.

Mind the Product started in 2010 in London and now consists of more than 50 000 members and the event traveled the world, being hosted in more than 100 cities.

Let’s see what are the secret ingredients in building such a great community for Product Managers.

James Mayes - Mind the Product

How did Mind The Product start? What helped you decide on the topic and vision?

Three product managers at London startups were looking to meet others – to share war stories, learn more about approaches and generally get some therapy from other professionals facing similar challenges at work.  Nothing much was available, so two events emerged – ProductCamp London, from Simon Cast and Janna Bastow, and ProductTank from Martin Eriksson. The three teamed up, and Mind the Product was born. The vision then was very much as it is now – to further the craft of product management by bringing together product people of all stripes.

What makes the events and community so vibrant?

I think the accessibility goes a long way.  The free meetups under the ProductTank banner continue every month, now in 140 cities; videos from the larger meetups are posted on our media site (no paywall), and we have a slack community with north of 10,000 members around the globe.  When we talk about conferences and training, there are obviously budget and location constraints – but there’s so much we support that’s free and location-independent. The diversity that has attracted is certainly high impact.

 

What do visitors love most about the Mind The Product events?

We keep a strong line between commercial and content decisions.  Anyone on a stage of ours is there because they were invited on merit alone, we don’t sell stage time for marketing activity. So many conferences use that as a hook to fill out the budgets, but it’s almost always a substandard experience for the delegate. We also have a high number of Product Managers on the team here – we don’t just know our audience, we are our audience.  There’s a relentless focus on the delegate experience. Of course, things go awry occasionally, but the effort we put in does show through, and we hear a lot of appreciation for that.

 

How do digital communities (the website / Slack channel) improve the event experience?

There’s a definite sense of community in the Slack channel, and you can see excitement for the conferences building weeks or months ahead, as people start discussing speaker announcements, places to stay and so on.  It continues long after too, as we release the videos – people coming back together online to break down certain talks or messages.  Many conferences are a one or two day event, with a pile of marketing email before and nothing after.  We’re aiming for a wider experience.

 

What were the greatest challenges in scaling Mind The Product internationally?

Navigating timezones and international tax laws is always a challenge!  Aside from that, the problems faced by Product Managers are remarkably similar around the world.  That helps the content travel well, which builds our reputation ahead of us.  That said, much of our content has come from the main firms of Europe and the US so far, so I think our next challenge will be unearthing the stories behind some of the tech giants or rising stars in the East.

 

What are your plans for the future?

We want to keep a tight focus on the conferences and work more on that delegate experience, there’s plenty more we can do! We also launched a formal training business in 2017, expanding our operations into developing bespoke product management training for delivery to major corporate clients.  We closed out the year with some amazing feedback from clients around Europe and across the US, so I’ll be looking to ensure that has the support it needs to attack 2018 with vigor!

4 difficult clients every event professional will meet

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

What could be better than a job/career that makes you jump out of bed every morning? Finding meaning in what we do is what makes us one step closer to happiness. It is something that we all crave for. It’s the ideal of the modern era, one in which fulfillment is often more important than money.

people at a desk, taking notes

Event planners definitely are among those who find meaning in their careers. Bringing people together, helping them evolve and (why not?) making the world a better place makes us jump out of the bed each morning (ok, maybe not on rainy Mondays).  Although challenging, the event planning industry repays every drop of energy that we invest in.

How do you define a difficult client?

Event planners also have to deal with what most of us try to run away from: difficult clients. And when I say ‘difficult clients’ I don’t mean those who force you out of your comfort zone. Those bringing you projects so big that they keep you up at night. That want you to plan the perfect event for them. That inspire you to be better with each passing day. Those are the ones you will thank later.

No, I mean those clients that are never happy, no matter how good you deliver. But at the same time, they can never articulate their unhappiness. That, day in day out, make things more complicated than you have ever imagined they could be. Than never help, but often obstruct you. That want you to execute their ideas but at the same time never take responsibility for anything. That hope that you can read their minds (but would hate it if you could).

Difficult clients in the event management industry

There are many types of difficult clients because there are so many ways in which people can be difficult to interact with. But based on the discussions that I had with our #eventproffs friends, there are 4 types of clients that you will (probably) meet in your career

The always angry/hostile client

It is always ready to argue over anything. He/she likes to intimidate those around. Every discussion is different, but all have one thing in common: a raised voice.  

How to deal with a hostile customer?

It’s crucial to not take it personally because it really isn’t. It’s also very important to keep calm, another choleric person won’t do any good. Be polite yet firm, letting your client know that you are always in control. Show that you take him/her serious, but don’t let yourself impressed by the aggressive attitude.

There are situations when we really are responsible for our customers’ anger (but not the way they manage it), so try to see if there anything that you could do better.

The hesitating client

“In any situation, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

There are people who just can’t make a decision. That think and overthink. That need hours to make up their minds (for any silly decision) and then just completely change it. That get cold feet in front of a decision. And, in our careers, we’ve all meet someone like this. When managing events, time is the one resource that’s always missing. And those who’ve seen how a venue looks just hours before an event know what I mean…

Listen to your client and see what makes the decision so difficult for him. Try looking from his point of view and let him know what your opinion is. Whenever you can help your client decide by providing relevant data/visual support.

The all-wise client

Have you ever met a person that knows everything there is to know? I am sure you have. The person that hires an expert and then tells him how to do his job. That doesn’t even need arguments to back-up his statements.

I don’t know about you, but for me, this is the client that’s most difficult to manage. First of all be sure that you are always well-prepared and that you have all the possible information. You will need a lot of statistics to support your ideas. You will also need a lot of tact in dealing with someone that “has all the right answers”. Don’t let your ego stand in your way, it will only make things worst.

 

The silent/apathetic client

It’s the client that shuts down communication, building a wall around him. He doesn’t like complicated situations (well, who really does?) and thinks that silence can make them go away. How to act?

First of all, “patience is a virtue”. To make your client talk you will need to ask the right questions and take the time to listen. Really listen. Encourage him to tell you what he thinks about the venue or caterer that you have selected. Praise every good idea that your client comes up with and ask for advice. Make him feel important and you will see a higher level of involvement from him. Communication is the only way to build a strong relationship with a ‘silent client’.

Difficult clients can be one’s worst nightmare, but they can also make us go the extra mile. Not every difficult client is, in fact, a difficult client. Because sometimes the problem is not with them, it’s with us.

Unfortunately, there will be times when you will just feel that things aren’t going to work for you and your client. If you ever feel that it would just be better to let your client go you should read this fabulous article first.