Experience Driven: Why Every Brand Ought to Be Hosting Events
These days, lifestyle tends to be as important to the success of a brand as the products themselves (see: Casper’s incredible success, which we looked at in detail last week). Of course, there’s a variety of ways a brand can develop and ‘sell’ their lifestyle. Events are really just the tip of the iceberg. But whether you’re creating unique activations in your city or hosting in-store concerts, live events present a rich opportunity to build your brand, connect with customers, and give prospective fans more reasons to fall in love and spread the word. Adweek reports, “Experiential marketing, once an afterthought to mainstream ad campaigns, is now emerging as the backbone to a growing number of branding plans.”
Here’s why: Social media takes the localized nature of a live event and makes it scalable, borderless, global. Your event may be taking place in Los Angeles, sure, but if it’s special, attendees will happily broadcast it all over the world on Instagram, Snapchat, etc. More than ever, events are a wildly useful branding tool. The key is to create memorable events that develop your story, engage your target audience, and provide plenty of opportunities for shareable moments.
Customers as Community
Many marketers only seek out scalable growth strategies that will deliver them a flood of new customers. A bigger picture approach to growth understands customers as community, rather than stats and benchmark numbers. If you manage to create a vibrant community around your brand, people will engage and share their enthusiasm for it willingly and organically. The power and magic of this cannot be overstated. Consumers are savvy. We all know the difference between forced sound bytes of praise and genuine excitement. Hosting events lets you connect with your customers face-to-face. Done right, they’ll become advocates of the work you’re doing and continue to show up for you and what you’re building. Better yet, they’ll actually be a part of helping building it.
Tell Your Story
Another incredibly important aspect of a successful live event is that it continues to tell the story of your brand and that it feels like a coherent and natural continuation—or development—of the same objective and/or feeling you’re aiming to express. Your online presence and in-person presence should echo one another in a way that adds richness to your brand, not clutter or confusion. Make sure event collateral—from branded elements at the event to the swag your visitors take home—is of the same tone as your external branded elements. Engage a similar color palette, copy and taglines, typeface, etc. Ensure that you present a cohesive visual language down to even the littlest of details.
Speaking of swag, don’t underestimate the power of a few strategically chosen items tucked into a goodie bag for your patrons to take home with them. When strategizing this element of your event, consider forging partnerships with other local companies and creators you might like to feature whose products will enhance your story. These collaborators will likely spread the word about your event and company on their own channels, thus increasing your reach to a new set of engaged followers. Community, community, community.
The Scalable Event
Once upon a time, producing events probably felt like lofty, yet demanding and ultimately low-yield marketing supplements. After all, their impact lived and died during the timeframe of your event. These days, social media makes a live event a scalable marketing tactic. Create event hashtags, encourage event attendees to share, share, share. Make the event worth sharing, and you’ll in effect be launching a press campaign with global reach, vetted by the very audience you’re hoping to reach.
Make it Virtual, Make it Last
With Twitter, Instagram Stories, Snapchat, Periscope, and Facebook Live, there are many ways to bring your event to your non-local fans in real time. Hosting a panel with industry influencers? Offer a way for non-local followers to tune in and engage via Twitter! Tout that hashtag on your channels to ensure the conversation keeps going.
Make sure to also give thought to the unique nature of your particular event. How can it be leveraged down the line? Hosting an in-store concert, like Warby Parker or TOMS? Make sure to bring in a videographer, so you can post a beautiful recap to social channels later. Every type of event can be expanded well beyond its initial perceived scope.
Innovate and Inspire
Here’s the linchpin, the fact upon which it all anchors: Your event has got to be good. Today’s consumer may be a digital native, but millennials are discerning and experience-obsessed, too. This generation appreciates innovation and tangibility precisely because they’ve seen it all and spend so much of their time using technology. Create an event that is interesting, that is warm and inviting, that is inspiring and unique, and people will not only want to attend, but will be excited to share their experiences. Create something interactive and memorable and you’ll be taking an incredibly powerful step towards building your brand and standing out from the crowd. Win-win.