In Reach Audience

If online is right-handed and offline is left; consumers are ambidextrous. With that in mind, publishers should seek opportunities in the physical world for the same reason brick-and-mortar retailers want to be online: to diversify their brand and take full advantage of sales opportunities. It makes sense that publishers must look for ways to enhance a digital presence in the real world.

For this reason, events should be a key part of any multichannel marketing mix. They’re occasions to bring brand identity to the forefront, to reinforce a mission and ethos in a way words alone can’t always communicate. An event is as much a real-world introduction as a celebration of all a brand is, but it’s also a “precision tool” for advertisers targeting audiences. And while the side-benefits of events are numerous and invaluable, the monetary ROI is real.

It begins with putting the consumer before the brand.

Before planning to market a product or service with live interaction, publishers will need to clearly identify goals. Are they as simple as making a profit or bringing in more money than expending? If so, success is fairly easy to define. Or are fun, engagement and impressions more important? In that case, marketers will need to make more of a splash, and know how to collect and measure post-event data.

Events Done Right

It begins with putting the consumer before the brand. Planning is easier when goals are clearly stated. Will attendees leave with knowledge to use, actions to take, content to share? In looking closely at some of event marketing’s biggest hits in recent years, it’s clear the sky’s the limit. But those defined objectives will keep any festivities grounded and pragmatic.

While publishers such as The Atlantic, New York Magazine and Financial Times have demonstrated success in events, there’s plenty to learn from brands in other industries who are doing it right.

Putting the consumer front-and-center made the program a success.

Insight

In an industry perceived to be forcing passengers into hurry-up-and-wait mode, Delta asked consumers to slow down.

Execution

In promoting its in-flight productivity amenities, Delta hosted an activation at the 2015 TED conference in Vancouver. Attendees could enter a quiet space with an orb and chair, which monitored heart rates and altered the lighting accordingly.

Value

Participants got a chance to slow down, and to gain perspective. For Delta it played against the stereotype of airlines, framing this brand as more of a hassle-free carrier.

Learnings

With a lightly branded approach, Delta’s space fit in easily with the conference, building on a TED Talk about “the art of stillness.” This made the event activation more authentic, and more welcome.

Insight

For a brand typically associated with athletes, Gatorade found a way for consumers to test their own athletic abilities.

Execution

Playing on the excitement of professional leagues’ pre-draft “combine” tryouts for prospects, Gatorade partnered with Xbox Kinect and Sparta Science to measure reflexes, jumping, agility and other metrics at stations at SXSW. The tests were scientifically accurate and data-rich so they could use the results to inform daily life.

Value

Consumers gained personal insights and actionable steps to improve themselves. For Gatorade, their brand is forever associated with those improvements.

Learnings

Beyond informative, the event activation was fun and reinforced with reputable partners. Having those companies associated with the primary brand helps build its status.

Consumers gained personal insights and actionable steps to improve themselves.

Insight

Too many brands are telling women to change. And in the food industry, this implies women must lose weight. Lean Cuisine pivoted to something more important.

Execution

While the frozen meal brand was overhauling its packaging, ingredients and messaging, they took the opportunity to pivot away from dieting. With scales (and cameras) set up in high traffic areas, the brand invited women to share the personal accomplishments they’d rather be weighed by.

Value

Participants walked away with positive feelings of self-worth. For the brand, the campaign connected with consumers through empathy.

Learnings

The brand tied the campaign to social sharing (totaling 204 million impressions), and posted quotes on walls where audiences could “weigh what matters,” relative to Lean Cuisine. Putting the consumer front-and-center made the program a success.

Insight

Facebook certainly has a tremendous amount of data available to advertisers. But if companies don’t know how to put that information to use, what good is it?

Execution

The social media giant constructed live scenes to show how data applies in a variety of settings — retail, restaurants, online shopping and more. With Instagram-worthy scenes and live resources for information along the way, the event was both memorable and useful.

Value

Of the 1,500 attendees who completed post-event surveys, 93 percent said the experience provided them with insights for better putting data to use for their business. Facebook was able to demonstrate its prowess for helping advertisers reach new audiences.

Learnings

Audiences might normally get this information in an auditorium via a PowerPoint deck. This audience got to walk through the experience; a classic example of hands-on learning. This bolstered Facebook’s goals to be seen as a platform for business.

A tangible experience that goes above and beyond free products.

Insight

As “a catalyst for women to see, feel and claim their power,” the Refinery29 lifestyle site plans an annual event called “Turn it Into Art” to reinforce its position, values and possibilities.

Execution

The brand has hosted their three-night events in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco in partnership with fellow brands and regional artists. This party combines civic pride with sensory experiences. Interactive rooms are each unique pop-up activations in interactive rooms are designed specifically to be shared on social media.

Value

Visitors go home with the excitement that comes with being part of a high-end, immaculately executed night of programs. And the brand sees its reach spread through personal networks, as aspirational and fun.

Learnings

In addition to the monetary reward of consistently sold-out events, Refinery29 understands the power in rewarding loyal audiences with a night unlike any other.

Hallmarks of Success

So what are the common traits these events share? The unexpected in an otherwise mundane conference or street. The visual impression, transforming spaces into backdrops for once-in-a-lifetime moments to be documented and shared. A tangible experience that goes above and beyond free products.

Publishers must look for ways to enhance a digital presence in the real world.

Most importantly, each of these activations puts its attendees first. Having the customer as the hero puts a premium on these experiences for those unexpected moments. This fosters positive feelings associated with brands, and a lasting affinity for host companies.

The Audience is Ready

Publishers have the advantage of a ready-made audience interested in what they’re all about. Putting a publisher’s value on display in a way people can experience means they’ll better understand how the brand fits their lifestyle. This means it will position itself in a new context with available income beyond subscriptions or memberships.

Events give clarity for how attendees can continue to live with a publisher. It’s just important to be authentic and open, demonstrating the value of the brand.

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