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.

Events need sponsorship. Learn how to approach your future event partners

Money is not the most important thing in life. The same goes for the event management scene: all the money in the world won’t guarantee that you’ll offer your guests the best experience. On the other hand, we must admit that money is an important asset when organizing events (conferences, festivals or concerts, it counts less). Those who have experience on their side know that there are two important aspects when looking at your cash-flow: smart tools (that give you instant access to ticket revenue) and event partners (sponsors). Obviously, there’s also the money that you are investing, but that’s a separate thing. And today I want to share with you some tips on how to do a better job when seeking (and negotiating) event partners for your next event.

Sponsors blog

There are different types of sponsorships, like cash sponsorship, media sponsorship, barter, and these ideas are useful for all; but initially, cash sponsorship stuck out.

*Disclaimer – I pinned down these ideas after a discussion with a friend of mine, a friend who’s job is to decide which events her company will partner with and why.

1. Start with market research

It’s not easy to get sponsors for your event (that’s if you don’t have them crowding at your doorsteps already). And I assume that you don’t want to waste precious time with companies that wouldn’t sponsorship your event (there are many reasons for which someone would partner with you, but there are also reasons for which it wouldn’t – and it’s not personal). It’s better to research which organizations sponsored which events and try to understand why. Look for:
-events similar to yours and the companies that offered sponsorship
-new companies that are trying to make themselves known (companies that offer small sponsorship to a large number of events)
-new companies that are trying to penetrate new (geographic or demographic) markets
-entities with the same set of values as yours (like Ted and Rolex for example, both treasuring time)

2. Your approach counts

Imagine these 2 different scenarios:
a. You receive an email from a stranger claiming that he organizes a conference that offers you the perfect chance to get brand recognition and leads. Although she/he has a nice proposal you find out this is the first edition of the event, meaning that the whole thing involves some level of risk.
b. Your friend calls you to invite you to a 3-way lunch: you two plus his/her former colleague that now owns an event planning business. And guess what: right now they are working on a conference that would offer you the perfect opportunity for fresh leads and brand recognition. Plus it’s their first edition so you can even negotiate a long-term partnership at a lower cost.
In which scenario do you think you would be more willing to sponsor the conference (assuming that there are no major differences between the two of them).
Fair or not, it’s also important how you get to present your offer. Before cold-calling, see if there are no common friends that can introduce you to that organization/person.

3. Get your numbers straight to attract event partners

If your event isn’t in its first edition you should be able to easily answer the popular questions about your attendees. Organizations willing to sponsor you are trying to get visible to certain categories of potential clients/stakeholders, so they will be interested to see some demographics. If you are using the right event registration software (that tracks check-in, cashless payments, interactions etc.) for your previous events you will have all data stored and ready to be used; If this is the first edition you should present your (very realistic) expectations, and also be ready to uphold them with solid arguments. Will you provide brand recognition and/or leads?

4.There are more layers of involvement

And I’m not referring to your gold, platinum, and adamantium sponsorship packages (which, to be honest, are kind of out-of-date). I’m talking about how a company may look at you: as a one-time deal (sponsor) or a long-time partnership. And this is why it’s crucial to do your homework before you go out and meet the ones that hold the financial resources. If you approach a company that has the same values as your event there are greater chances to get yourself with a new longtime partner.
P.S. the layer of involvement may depend on the department that you approach; people from PR & Communication are interested in a sponsorship that brings quick results, the CSR department is interested in a partnership that can consolidate the company’s position as an important social player (a long-term goal).

5. It’s not all about you

Dale Carnegie once said (and I quote): “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”. When someone accepts to meet and discuss a sponsorship it means that they see potential in a future collaboration. Listen, see what motivates them and which are your common points of interest, and your chances of getting a new sponsor/partner will increase dramatically.

5bis. Listen. Listen. Listen

This part is connected with the one above but I kept them separated because I wanted to highlight something: it’s more than possible that your future-to-be event partners know better than you which are the needs that can be filled with your help (but you must see how). This is why I think that your sponsorship standard packages are out of date and you should always be willing to listen to what your possible partners have to say; maybe you offer a 25.000 $ event partnership package (that includes signage and media coverage) to someone willing to sponsor you with 50.000 $ if you implement their workshop into your event. Be open-minded, otherwise you will lose many great event partners along the road.

Funding is crucial and we all know that great event partners are hard to find, so you should always show interest in your partner’s goals. After the whole thing is over meet with them and review the event: see if they have accomplished their goals, if there were any problems or new ideas. Your interest will show that you are willing to put in the work that’s necessary when building a long time relation.