The Value-Add of Events
Why should you incorporate events into your overall marketing strategy? Other than being an enjoyable experience for attendees, events add substantial value to an organization. Among the innumerable benefits of experiential marketing are building brand exposure, managing client relations, educating attendees, fundraising, and increasing social media exposure. The following discusses these value-adds, emphasizing how essential events are to a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Building Brand Exposure
Whether a corporation or a nonprofit, an organization creates a brand through its values, characteristics, and beliefs. Events are an extremely impactful tool for instilling any brand's image and growing its awareness. According to the Event Marketing Institute, 74% of attendees have a more positive opinion about the hosting company following an event.
This can be executed through a variety of methods but, essentially, experiential marketing is an opportunity to personify a brand. Brand personification is defined as a projective technique where people think about brands as if the brand was a person, and describe how the brand would think and feel (Digital Agent). Through a creative theme and innovative decor, attendees can engage with the brand in dynamic ways. For example, a fun dress code like “sneakers and sparkles” exemplifies a sense of whimsy and youth in a brand. Rather than having to communicate this through an extensive ad campaign, this one event element humanized the organization. Clients could then connect a deeper meaning to the brand which brings it to life.
Managing Client Relations
Events provide a wonderful opportunity for interactions. With a room full of clients or donors, there is a myriad of client relations opportunities. An organization’s personnel can take the time to have a touch point with the top clients and create more meaningful relationships. This results in a more loyal client base and higher returns. The 2018 consumer loyalty value data showed that consumers with a relationship to a brand have a whopping 306% higher lifetime value (Access Development). Furthermore, they also stay with a brand longer (5.1 years vs. 3.4 years) and will recommend brands at a much higher rate (71% vs. 45%) (Access Development). With top clients in the room, this is an efficient and effective way to manage these interactions, communicate appreciation for their loyalty, and continue to strengthen relationships.
Similarly, having a full room of attendees is an easy way to educate the audience. Nonprofits do this by inviting speakers to their galas to discuss the organization’s mission and prove its effectiveness. Likewise, demonstrations are also presented by corporations. This allows potential consumers to interact with new products. Even signage throughout the venue can communicate recent statistics to the guests.
In both cases, feedback can be gathered while promoting the goods or services, both informally and formally. This data can be used to educate internal staff on best practices and ways to optimize marketing and development practices in the future. As much as events allow for a great forum to educate attendees, hosts can also gain some invaluable information for their own staff.
Most nonprofits have some sort of fundraising gala. But why is fundraising at events so effective? Through an exciting experience, events generate new supporters and provide an enjoyable experience for current donors. New supporters can easily turn into lifelong donors after being educated about the mission. Ticket sales can generate significant funds, but other onsite fundraising methods are extremely effective when exposed to all attendees. Another example includes auctions both live and otherwise. A call for cash encourages donations with no exchange for a good or service. The most effective way is to add this after the most poignant, heart-tug moment in the program. A room for potential donors encourages each other to give at higher rates especially during live auctions. A well-executed event leads to a high ROI, a value that is hard to replace by any other marketing tool.
Increasing Social Media Presence
Although an event occurs on a specific date, brand exposure occurs for weeks before and after the event through social media engagement. Through ticket giveaways and promoting the event, engagement with the organization. Advertising and selling tickets build anticipation and get people talking. Attendees also share pictures from the experience on social media platforms. A targeted hashtag allows you to easily organize these posts and continually interact with the guests. If strategically down, this communication reinstates the brand messaging that occurred throughout the event. This only expands the network of those exposed to the experiential marketing campaign. We always encourage clients to have some activation that lends itself to social media because it is such an easy way to improve the effectiveness of the event.
*If you are new to events or experiential marketing, start with sponsoring a lounge or activation at any other event. Partnering with another organization can be beneficial for your branding and is a great way to examine how experiential marketing fits into your overall marketing objectives.