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Blog  > The Quarterly  > Event Strategy: unleash brand value

14 January 2016

Event strategy: unleash brand value

Consumers are increasingly willing to participate in campaigns, become a part of the brand and open up to companies they love.   Digital is often impersonal and communication can appear cold and fragmented.  Knowing consumers’ willingness to connect in this digital age is an opportunity for brands to connect in the real world with consumers. . A killer event strategy is key to exploiting this..

While traditional channels struggle to cut through the noise, events can quickly establish a genuine emotional connection. Events can wrap audiences up in authentic brand experiences, disarm skeptics, schmooze cynics, and ultimately win consumers over. In short: they make true engagement possible.

Think of it like this: Why do people visit Table Mountain when they can Google it? Because the experience is multi-dimensional: proximity and tangibility builds familiarity, and authenticity creates an emotional response.  Plus people love sharing / talking about the actual experience and “being there”.

 

When strategically planned and creatively imagined, events can strengthen messages delivered through other marketing and advertising platforms and provide opportunities to inspire, create loyalty, and attract and build relationships with new audiences.

Event strategy and brand strategy: two sides of the same coin

Having an event strategy is much more than great planning or including the latest tech. We all seek clear and consistent experiences at each brand touch point and this holds true for events as well. The entire event, from conception to realisation should be held together by a clear purpose and a recurring theme to tie all brand events together. Whether global or local, small or large, once off or recurring, all events should be linked by the brand proposition and values.

 

Getting people actively involved with your brand during events requires more effort and energy than ever before, as each event activity should be conceptualized to bring your brand to life in a distinguishing manner while consistently reinforcing the brand’s essence and promise.

Experience is the new currency

There are two factors that determine event strategy success:

  •          How deeply it is grounded in the brand
  •          The extent to which the event meets (and exceeds) customer needs and expectations.

Power has shifted; consumer behavior and preferences control brands today. Consumers now expect and demand more from brands including product and service quality, environmental impact, and the scale and relevance of events. With the stakes so high, brands that ignore customers' need for tangible, direct dialogue, face a new risk – for example suspicions can evolve into opposition. This risk is compounded by the prevalence of social media - anyone can impact a brand’s image and reputation As a result, brands need to be proactive and allow direct engagement to create  ongoing, meaningful relationships. There is an opportunity to create a strategy that fosters participation and allows attendees to ‘own’ the event touch point to increase relevancy and bring the experience to life in a unique and memorable way.

Positive personal experiences foster goodwill, enhance loyalty and create talkability and sharing. Knowing this, events should move from a showcase platform to one of interaction designed to communicate what the brand stands for and make customers feel included.

Staying ahead of the curve

Well-produced events build market share, increase profits, and boost brand equity in the long-term. If you want to make create an exemplary event that maximizes brand potential, here are some key points to keep in mind:

Integrate on- and off-line touch points

Digital media is central in promoting and increasing the reach and impact of events, but it’s a tool that must be used meaningfully.

It may seem appropriate to place related event material online, but most efforts to promote events often lack the conceptual link. To close the gap, online and offline activities should be interlinked, to simplify the guest journey throughout the event and delivering a rich, consistent experience.

Though a great asset for increasing participation, excitement, and connection with target audiences, digital must be used before, during and after the event to achieve optimal results. The goal is to expand event reach, encourage sharing, and bring audiences together.

The use of hashtags within social media aids online touch points. It helps event attendees organise their online conversations about panels, speakers, ideas and opinions, and to stay connected virtually even after the event has closed. It’s important to choose the right hashtag so that people actually use it, four features of an effective event hashtag are: uniqueness, memorability, legible and short.

Embrace your values

The wow factor isn’t the only thing to consider in events. Inappropriate ‘wow factor’ initiatives can dilute brand strength. Instead, events should embrace and mirror the brand's values, rather than host the latest spectacle. One meaningful, purpose-driven event can have far more impact than a myriad of events that lack purpose.

Act sustainably

It is no longer adequate to merely talk about sustainability or play up a green image – you have to be green. Demonstrate how you are serious about minimizing, or entirely negating, potential environmental impact. Work out how to reduce or offset environmental impact from planning and set-up, to execution and cleanup.

Developing and communicating carbon-offsetting strategies, for example, can demonstrate commitment to sustainability and thereby build trust.

Also consider what you place in your delegate packs, and what you give away. How many times has you thrown away useless, gimmicky ‘stuff’. That all ends up in landfills. Consider your audience, what they would find value in, and how it expresses your brand values.

Monetary ROI is not everything

Creating an event requires effort and there is no doubt that return on investment needs to be measured. But, a long-term outlook is essential. Rather than assessing an event's worth based on the number of participants or direct post-event sales impact, look at an event’s ‘return on engagement’. The more people are involved and engaged with the brand during the event, the more brand value is likely to be built.

Conclusion

Brands must meet continually evolving needs and meet them with greater clarity and precision. As a vital point of contact between consumers and brands, events hold the key to uniting the need to deliver clear understanding and the ‘next new thing’.

As brands strive to meet new needs, they must ensure that their mission values are not diluted. In a world full  distractions, it is crucial to communicate what a brand stands for in a clear, tangible way and engage audiences in authentic experiences. By leveraging events, brands can do this and make the most of valuable consumer moments.

Events are an excellent opportunity to exceed expectations and achieve greater brand clarity - which is why it’s so important to get them right.

 

 

 

 

 

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