Introduction to Event Marketing Strategies
In a competitive market, companies need to keep in touch with consumers to get feedback, develop new business, introduce new ideas and concepts, brands and keep pace with the rest of the industry. The explosion of mass media, malls, large stadiums, and business convention centers having open and closed auditoriums have created new opportunities for the corporate world to engage with consumers – through events and stage shows that can also attract coverage in newspapers, radio, and television. This article will see about event marketing strategies.
What are event marketing strategies?
Event marketing strategies refer to activities that companies use to get engaged with the customer in an open platform, such as stage shows, trade fairs, and sporting events. Some of the popular methods to attain brand value and mindshare of consumers is through fashion, music, shows, holding marathons, funding charity shows, contests, parties, health awareness events, and fun events. Huge hoardings announcing such events in megacities are not uncommon.
It is a useful complement to the traditional brand building and market promotion activities of many companies.
According to a study by the Event Marketing career Institute done four years ago, the success rate of events is very high, leading to immediate sales conversion rather than just creating awareness of products and brands. The study said 58% of the participants purchased a product immediately after the event, and a whopping 86% became regular customers.
How do Event Marketing strategies differ from conventional marketing?
In mass media, the promotional efforts involve huge budgets intended to address a large audience covering a geographical area of a state or province, a city or town, even the whole of the country and across countries. This applies to television, newspapers, magazines, radio, and even web-based media, including social media.
In stark contrast, event marketing strategies are targeted to a select audience having special interests, age groups, or staying in a particular place. Hence the reach of event marketing strategies is limited to a particular place, class of consumers or age, social strata. However, available research indicates that event marketing strategies can provide a positive return on investment (ROI) perhaps, better than its counterparts in the mass media.
Experts point out that the key to a successful event marketing career campaign is to identify the target audience correctly and create an experience that remains in the participant’s memories. If the target identified is right, consisting of current and prospective buyers, it could help create favorable impressions about the company and develop long-lasting relationships.
One of the most popular events is the McDonald’s Monopoly game that began in 1987 and was held in the UK, Canada, Australia, the US, and several other countries. The aim of the sweepstakes game was to bring more customers to its restaurants by giving prizes to participants. Although fraud was detected in the administering of the game, it continues to be one of the most followed events in the world.
Event management strategies
Following are some event management strategies:
1. Planning Ahead
Unlike a mass media campaign where a good chunk of the work can be done by the ad agency or a production house based on the brief provided by the company, event marketing strategies require careful planning, sometimes months ahead of the program.
Budgets have to be estimated and approved by the finance department, and possible avenues for income generation, for, e.g. sponsorship from television rights, the contribution from philanthropic agencies, among others, also need to be assessed. The editorial and promotional material have to be prepared in advance and circulated to potential participants. If the company has a customer base, they can be informed by email by sending printed brochures with admission tickets and requesting them to promote them among friends.
2. Identify target audience
The most important part of planning is identifying the target audience. A textile retailer catering mainly to women should have events focused on women of a particular age group. In South India, a popular show hosted by the Seematti Textile group features. Bridal wear and participants are selected from homemakers, professional women from all walks of life. The event hires the best talent in terms of dancers, choreographers, photographers from across the country. Identifying the target audience is a must for planning the content of the program, free offers, draw of lots, and deciding on prizes.
3. Create awareness through blogging
If the company has a blog section on its website, it can be effectively used to communicate news about the event, the purpose, goals, objectives, and educational aspects of it. Since the content is original and informative, the chances of them getting ahead in search engine rankings are higher. Such blog posts have the advantage of being boosted through social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
The content that works best in event promotion is the purpose, interviews with key delegates or experts, the venue, news, photographs, details about the turnout, the outcome, and several important details. According to Event Marketing Strategies Maven Michelle Bergstein, it works well if the company has an editorial calendar to work with.
Likewise, experts in the industry can also be requested to write articles or opinion pieces that will be valued by the readers.
if the event is an ongoing annual affair, client testimonials can be effectively used to create a good impression among potential clients. However, there should not be an effort to create hype that may backfire.
4. Creating an event within an event
An event can have one theme and sub-themes that can engage customers directly, teach them about a product, and by interacting in a quality way. Ian Greenberg, senior vice president of Show Media, an advertising agency in New York City, talks about the Ray-Ban truth-or-dare-themed campaign in a vehicle. Passengers were asked truth-or-dare-themed campaign and giving away free sunglasses. The attraction of such events is the opportunity to experience new things and which they share with their friends. Speakers, sponsors, partners, influencers, and members of the press can be invited for a night out before the event. This can build rapport and bonding, leading to better relationships and support for the event.
5. Social Media
Social media has now emerged as a popular medium to promote events, stage shows, and roadshows. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google plus can be effectively used to create important announcements regarding the events on a daily basis with good graphics, photographs, infographics. The number of shares, likes, and comments would be dependent on the quality of the postings and relevance to the event and the consumer. An event can be created on Facebook weeks ahead of the event and get responses from participants either as likely to go, going, or not going. Although this cannot rely on a hundred percent, it can be used to assess the importance of the event in the consumer’s minds.
Blog posts and articles can also be boosted through FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It pays to use paid promotional options in social media rather than using the free services as it will enhance the geographical reach, increase likes and shares and also lead to more conversions.
According to Issa Sawabini, partner of Fuse, a youth marketing agency based in Vermont, Twitter is ideal for young adults who aren’t too young. They are becoming used to making constant updates from the onsite/booth; therefore, brands are also getting good t creating on-site experiences over Twitter.
Rachel Stephan, President of Sensor/Event Marketing Strategies, clients want to know that their event is being seen by the right people in the right places to ensure maximum visibility and registration. Jay Baer, a social media expert, opines that if you want attendees and followers to share your social posts, they need to be interesting enough to warrant it. Sharing of content is not enough, followers have to be engaged, and content should be interesting to share and discuss.
6. Website/Event page
Although social media has become a more popular medium to share and post content for a vast majority of people, the backbone of any corporate promotional activity is a good website.
The event posts on websites should clearly indicate the topic, time, place, and profile of those who should attend. It could also describe the benefits of attending the event. It should be brief and concise. Third-party endorsements help in attracting the audience.
The event description should have speaker pictures, and bio as great pictures draw huge crowds, the logo of the event, videos related to the event, and most importantly register button. The registration thank you Page should have an option for the reader to share the event on social media. They should receive an email on registration, and this opportunity can be used to suggest they follow the company on Twitter.
7. Emailers, Short Messaging Services
Email campaigns can start early, and care should be taken with respect to title and headers. Subject lines that inspire, awe, anger, or create anxiety lead to higher open rates, while subject lines with lukewarm emotional content have less probability of being opened. Emails are better opened at the weekends compared to weekdays. In order to get better click-through rates, emailers should be sent at the weekend. Short Messaging Services (SMS) can be used to remind people who have registered or potential visitors to the event a few days prior to it and also on the day of the event, especially if it is in the evening. Considering the word limitations, care should be taken in writing and editing it, as poorly worded content can lead to no click-through at all.
8. Hiring event management professionals
If the core activity of a company is not focused on events, then it makes sense to hire professional event managers to do the show as the company’s core team need not take time off from their regular jobs to do the event management. Preparation for the event and its conduct could take several man-hours and skills of existing employees, while the core activity of the company may be affected. Therefore, it makes sense to outsource the job to event managers who will take care of the choreography, backdrops, arranging invitations, seating, and content of the program, including music.
9. Be creative
An event should create a lasting impression on the audience. That is the reason Sony’s campaign of 2005, when 250,000 bouncy balls on the streets of San Francisco to promote the color display of the new Bravia LCD television, became such a hit. Flash mobs in malls and public places have the capacity to instantly attract crowds and, if used creatively, can bring good results. Recently, in India’s capital Delhi, a group of women committed to promoting Sari, appeared suddenly in the atrium of a mall in Delhi and performed western dance forms in Sari, proving that the traditional wear is no hindrance for performing daily tasks and need not be substituted with western wear on that count alone.
Creativity is an important aspect of the event promotion, and the more talented the people behind the show, the better will be its impact. Sometimes, the presence of film stars can add value to an event, although it could entail higher costs. However, the choice of the star, its relevance to the industry, and his or her charisma are important for the artiste to be a real crowd-puller for the show.
10. Charity and sponsorships
Companies who give back something to society are seen as responsible corporate entities and hence create brand value among the public. Charity shows can attract an audience for music, dance, drama, stage shows, and a variety of other programs, which can create goodwill.
Event marketing strategies are not a substitute for traditional market promotion activities but a complement to them. But there are industry verticals where event marketing strategies could be a good payoff. Fashion, IT, consumer goods, electronics, jewelry, watches, bridal wear, garments, sportswear and equipment, health and fitness products are all apt categories for event promotional activity. Since the events tend to be localized, good support in terms of hoardings and banners in strategic locations in the city or town can generate more inquiries and pull crowds on the event day. FM Radio can also be effectively used on the day of the event and the previous day to create awareness. ENDS/
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