We live in a rapidly changing world and not just one responding to the effects of the Corona-virus but more importantly, one driven by advances in technology, design and social expectations.
Throughout the 1960s, ‘70s and 80’s, marketers invested heavily in traditional advertising to generate awareness and ultimately gain customers. But by the mid 2000s, businesses began building strong online footprints through email, websites, and social media.
Every event professional knows that live events provide an opportunity to interact with brands in a very personal and tangible way, that is almost impossible to achieve through digital marketing. Indeed successful marketing strategies of the future will rely less on digital experiences and more on live events.
Marketing is about engagement and nothing is more engaging than the live event at the center of a brand experience. So what makes live events particularly impactful and effective?
They are multi sensory. Live experiences involve all the senses as attendees interact with others, absorb content and visually take in the scene. As a result, live experiences are the most immersive form of brand engagement.
They are 360 degree. Live experiences are as close as brands can come to a total customer experience, forging a physical and emotional connection with attendees as they communicate their message.
They are social. Live experiences satisfy the need for social connectivity. “Nothing is more powerful than building a tribe, and that is what happens at a live event,” says Andy Cunningham, Freeman Design Council Member.
They are ‘sticky’. The best live experiences are engaging and shareable with the capacity to reach so many more people and amplify brand reach.
Separate the signal from the noise
However, whilst many businesses already invest heavily in professional events, events are often still relegated to second place when it comes to conceptualizing and optimizing marketing campaigns.
Digital marketers are used to securing only a few moments of attention from their target audience. Perhaps a prospect will glance at a paid ad or take a few minutes to skim through a blog post. The best case scenario is usually that they invest an hour or so trialing a product or speaking with a salesperson over the phone.
Events need to occupy center stage of any marketing plan.
Live events, however, provide marketers with an opportunity to craft a compelling brand narrative that lasts for hours, if not for days. While it’s misleading to claim that event attendees are a captive audience – after all, they can always choose to duck out of sessions or focus on their smartphones – they will generally be more attentive to the message or value proposition being articulated than through other marketing channels.
It’s no coincidence that when the most successful brands want to make a major announcement, they do so through a live event. Apple is known for crafting a compelling brand narrative through spectacular product launches. Salesforce articulates the company’s vision for the future at Dreamforce.
However, in order for marketers to create events that clearly articulate what a brand stands for, it’s essential that the messaging must be agreed upon before the event is planned. Once this is finalized, only then can the events team begin to think of ways to communicate this vision. This is why events need to occupy center stage of any marketing plan.
Providing lead building opportunities
It’s well known that live events provide marketers with unique lead generation opportunities to collect new pieces of data about contacts both before, during and after an event.
What’s more, the data collected from live events can be used to improve the performance of digital marketing campaigns. For example, if a marketer knows what sessions attendees participated in thanks to ‘session registration’ enabled event registration software, more relevant email workflows can be created that speak directly to the content preferences of event attendees.
Brand experiences that are meaningful and engaging lead to consumer loyalty and brand advocacy.
Live events also allow salespeople to form stronger relationships with their prospects. This is yet another reason why companies are turning to live events as a form of ‘sales acceleration’. Deals that include an in-person meeting are 20% more likely to close than deals without an in-person meeting.
Similarly, while there was once a time when live events could not be measured, those days are long past. Thanks to the many developments in event technology and marketing software, marketers can now measure and optimize the performance of live events just like they can with other channels.
In summary, the rise in event technology and data capture supersedes any lingering doubts marketeers may have had about the effectiveness of events. Many people believe that today’s consumers value experiences more than material goods. They expect these experiences to speak to them on a personal level and to respond to their needs for information, community and fun. Brand experiences that are meaningful and engaging lead to consumer loyalty and brand advocacy.
It’s perhaps no surprise then, that live events should be at the center of any well-conceived marketing strategy.