Online and print marketing can both build up your fan base, but live events offer your audience a unique chance to experience your brand for themselves. By meeting you in person, they are more likely to forge a meaningful connection with your company, which in turn will translate to sales. Almost three-quarters (74%) of customers say that their impression of a business improves following an event.
Events that connect with an audience are referred to as “experiential marketing.” They can take the form of festivals, concerts, pop-up shops, conferences, lectures, and exhibitions – in fact, almost any kind of event can be used to engage with your market.
The most effective events cultivate a sense of loyalty in attendees. Here are a few practical ways you can grab your visitors’ attention and leave a positive impression:
1. Generate excitement before the event
Announce your event at least a few weeks in advance. Tell followers across each of your platforms where and when it will take place, and when they will be able to purchase tickets. Giving people the opportunity to sign up for notifications is a good way to encourage them to join your mailing list.
Tell your visitors why they should attend; what’s in it for them? For example, if you have invited any notable speakers or plan to run any exciting contests, highlight it in your marketing materials.
2. Give your visitors a sneak preview of upcoming products or services
Reward visitors for turning up by staging some kind of “big reveal.” For example, if you are a clothing brand, showcase a few of your new designs for the upcoming season. When you make them feel special, attendees will come away with positive memories of your event, which in turn will foster brand loyalty.
3. Engage your visitors’ senses
Let your guests see, touch, hear, or taste your products. The more senses you can engage, the better. Set up as many interactive displays as possible.
4. Stage a competition
Giving away prizes serves two purposes. First, it provides a good excuse to collect visitors’ contact details, which will aid your marketing efforts in the future. Second, offering a desirable prize encourages visitors to think of your brand as generous and fun, two attributes which will increase their loyalty.
5. Be generous with your freebies
Even if they have paid to get in, attendees still tend to think of gifts and merchandise as a bonus or “added extra.” Branded items that they will want to keep, such as fun toys or useful items such as pens and notepads, will remind them of the event long after they get home.
6. Localize the experience
“Always ask yourself whether your event is catering to your local market,” advises the CEO of PickWriters. Do not assume that just because an event was well-received in one city that it will be met with a warm reception in another. This requires a thoughtful approach. For example, you may need to translate written content, including signs, be sensitive to cultural norms regarding dress codes and greetings, and avoid casual references to controversial issues during talks and demonstrations.
7. Offer a touch of luxury
Make your visitors feel special, and they will look back on your event with fondness. For instance, you could offer a limited number of passes to a VIP area, or sell tickets to a Q&A session. They will tell their friends about the great time they had, which will further improve your brand’s reputation.
8. Showcase your brand alongside others that target your market
Inviting your competitors to an event would be counter-productive, but what about teaming up with a brand that appeals to a similar demographic? In doing so, you’ll attract a broader crowd who will get the opportunity to experience your brand along with well-established favourites.
9. Invite speakers from outside your company to share their knowledge
If you are running a B2B event for professionals, recruit speakers to run workshops or give demonstrations. These should give attendees actionable strategies they can use in their business. Your guests will feel as though their time at your event was well-spent, and will respect your brand for caring about issues that affect them.
Hiring external speakers also equates to free publicity, because they will probably let all their clients and social media contacts know that they are taking part in an event.
10. Recruit enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff
If even staff are indifferent to your brand and bored by the event, your visitors will notice, and this won’t inspire their trust or loyalty. If possible, send company employees to oversee the event, rather than workers from a PR agency.
11. Make it easy for visitors to share their experiences
Set up a hashtag for your event, and encourage your visitors to use it. Hashtags let your guests share their photos and questions they may have for you. Make sure someone is responsible for responding to social media posts throughout the event; a quick, friendly reply or acknowledgement will generate goodwill. You can also use hashtags to organize contests. For instance, you may run a competition whereby the 100th person to upload a tagged photo of themselves at the event wins a prize.
12. Livestream your event
Reach out to those who can’t get to your event by livestreaming it. Set up a video feed that gives viewers a sense of the event atmosphere. Be sure to broadcast talks, demonstrations, and Q&A sessions. Your viewers will appreciate your efforts, feel engaged with the event, and may direct other people to your stream via social media. Encourage viewers to submit live feedback and questions.
Obtain, and analyze, visitor feedback
Always conduct a post-mortem after the event, using both qualitative and quantitive data. Ask yourself these questions: Did staff receive positive formal feedback during the event? Did visitors share their experience on social media? How many people attended? How many sign-ups or purchases did you get? Overall, did the event live up to your visitors’ expectations?
If you held a conference or B2B event, you could use brief follow-up surveys to encourage attendees to give formal feedback afterwards. Whatever your industry, remember that consumers want to be heard, so give them the chance to tell you what they really thought of your event.
Elisa Abbott is a freelancer whose passion lies in creative writing. She completed a degree in Computer Science and writes about ways to apply machine learning to deal with complex issues. Insights on education, helpful tools and valuable university experiences – she has got you covered ;)