Advertising is an inescapable part of our lives. Everyday we’re bombarded with adverts, messages and discounts. On the internet our behaviour, purchases and browsing history is monitored and used by advertisers who target us in our personal spaces when we least expect it.
If you’ve never realised, this could suggest that we’ve built up an immunity to the marketing tactics used by so many? We should therefore be asking, how effective or – more appropriately – ineffective has advertising become? If we really think about it, do you remember the adverts you sat through last night while watching TV? Can you recall the advert you heard on the radio this morning? Yes? OK well some of them do have rather catchy theme tunes. However, there is one form of marketing that we – the consumer – find a little easier to tolerate. Events!
Event marketing is an increasing trend for brands and businesses that are eager to create genuine connections. The UK event industry is now worth £42.3bn is reportedly made up of 25,000 event agencies across the UK. But why are live events so popular and what impact and value do they really have on the consumer and businesses that host them?
The history of advertising
To understand what has driven the desire to connect with audiences let’s start with a brief history of advertising. Printed advertising can be dated back to 1450 when the technology for mass printing became available. Almost 300 years later magazines started being published and provided new advertising opportunities. In the 1920s-40s new mediums such as radios, TVs and telephones made it even easier to target people on mass. Television and telephone marketing dominated in the 50s until the early 80s when computer advertising was able to reach over 46% of American households. Throughout the 90s mobile and internet marketing dominated but advertisers were already sensing the need to adopt more sophisticated approaches.
Today, advertising is smarter than ever. It’s highly targeted and personalised by location, desires, and behaviours and promises to add more value to our experiences. Although these tactics are more valuable to the consumer, because we are being shown more of what we want, they are still intrusive and, most of the time, unwelcome. When we pick up our devices we’re constantly exposed to adverts, sponsored posts, boosted Tweets, retargeting campaigns, SEO and emails convincing us to part with our money or take some sort of immediate action.
As a live events agency we know that event marketing takes a different approach. Instead of blindly sending out messages, events are an opportunity to connect with people who have volunteered, and in some instances, paid to be there. There are obviously many forms of event marketing from, conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, employee conferences, management conferences and live gigs to upmarket product launches. Each have an opportunity to be unique, memorable and highly converting.
So, what is the impact of Event Marketing?
The impact of event marketing
1. Create meaningful connections
Events provide a rare and often exclusive opportunity to meet and connect with people. Trade shows and exhibitions give consumers the chance to meet suppliers that may only exist online, while employee engagement events enable large businesses to come together to hear a vital message. And when we attend a gig or festival it’s a rare moment to see our legends perform only for us – a select audience.
For this reason events are unparalleled at creating meaningful, and essential connections with audiences.
When we attend events we experience them. Unlike other advertising mediums that are passive, and quite frankly forgettable, events call upon audience participation. The very act of seeing, hearing, recalling the music or remembering the people we meet ensures that the experience remains embedded in our long-term memories. Surely that’s every advertiser’s dream?
3. Shared experiences/Word of mouth marketing
When we experience a memorable and meaningful event we’re much more likely to talk about it. We may go home and talk about who we met, which big names attended or how amazing the flash mob was. Whatever it is that makes your event memorable if you can get you audience discussing it and talking about their positive experience then you’ve achieved word-of-mouth marketing. And, since 92% of consumers trust referrals and are four times more likely to make a purchase when referred by a friend, referral marketing is the most cost effective marketing channel.
4. Highly converting prospects
Creating an event that your audience has to make an effort to attend is a no brainer. Just think about this for a second. All other marketing channels rely on reaching an audience at the ‘right’ time and place. In contrast, an event attracts only the right audience. Whatever the objective of an event – providing it’s not a complete disaster – it’s highly likely that you’ll smash your objectives and increase conversions. Let’s take a look a few examples:
- Employee events: The conversion or objective might be to get employees onside, share ideas and disseminate important updates. Employees invited to the event are made to feel special, cared for and appreciated, making them happy, motivated and more productive.
- Conferences and exhibitions: Suppliers from a specific niche come together to sell to audiences. Audiences that attend these shows come to be inspired, meet suppliers, conduct research and ultimately, make a purchase.
- Product Launches: Product launches have several objectives: to create hype, take orders, attract media and achieve word-or-mouth. Audiences are treated as special guests being given an exclusive preview of a brand new and unseen product. It’s easy to see why they’re so successful.
Such positive and distinctive experience not only increase conversions, they also boast brand loyalty and secure lifelong fans.
5. Media hype
Events have a unique ability to generate a lot of hype. There are always ways to weave an event into the local or national news and PR is great for business. Since news stories aren’t editorials or paid for adverts, they are generally received better and are packed with sharing potential. The only other adverts that get a good amount of media coverage are the Christmas adverts released by John Lewis and Sainsbury’s, but I’m guessing the budgets for such masterpieces are considerably higher than laying on an event.
6. Greater overall impact
Create the right impression and you’ll have your new brand ambassadors talking about your event for weeks, especially if you keep the momentum going across social media.
Without spending a penny on advertising businesses have the potential to reach a much wider audience through:
- Everyone discuses the event (Attendees, exhibitors, organisers)
- Attendees share their photographs across social media
- There’s the potential for a much wider audience to see the images that are being shared
- Media cover the event across networks
- Due to the success and hype achieved more exhibitors want to attend and you attract more delegates. The next event will be a sell out and you’ll generate an even greater impact next time.
Break through the noise and be eventful
Over the years advertising has become a gigantic, inescapable beast. Unfortunately for advertisers the consumer is more savvier and more despondent to the ever increasing amount of advertising that we’re expected to consume.
Event marketing provides a fresh and viable alternative. With an ability to provoke, motivate and resonate with audiences events are more memorable, shareable and ultimately more profitable for many brands. Experiential marketing is probably the only other channel that provides the same amount of success and potential.
The key to both tactics is to create an experience that is distinctive and relevant and fortunately there are plenty of ways to make your event stand out. Talk your ideas through with event production profs like SomeBrightSpark to spark some creative ideas, or find out how to find the right agency to work with by reading our guide to Creative Recruitment.