To step up their game, big brands need to evolve their marketing strategies to reach their target audiences. While you probably already know the value of experiential and content marketing, event marketing is a complete game plan that mixes the best of both worlds.
Although our emotions influence our buying behavior more than anything else, there’s a reason event marketing is a great way to reach people and convert them into customers. Humans retain what they experience. In fact, 74% of consumers say engaging in branded event marketing experiences makes them more likely to purchase the products being promoted, according to a 2016 report from the Event Marketing Institute.
I think this strategy can be compared to one of the most well-known sales techniques: planting a seed in the mind of the customer. Let’s explore what I call “Gardening 3.0”.
Sow the seed.
Start your plan well before the event begins. On the event site, via social networks or via brand ambassadors, create content around the meeting. Organizing a contest, for example, is a great way to tell the public in advance that you will be at the event, without selling or showcasing your product instantly. This way you will already be on their mind.
Water the seed.
At the event itself, make one-to-one connections between your product and the customer. With an activation, you can present your product to prospects in different ways.
The goal is to create an opportunity for the person to interact with your product in a way they will remember. Use your imagination as much as possible. Excitement, participation, touch, sight, hearing and even smell are things to consider.
While watering the seed, take notes. Collect customer data, including emails, phone numbers, and zip codes. Remember that because you’re selling an experience and not the product at the event itself, you’ll need this information to be able to convert them into customers later.
Watch your plant grow.
After the event, it’s time to close the deal – if it’s not already closed. Import the offline data you’ve collected into your customer relationship management (CRM) or customer data platform (CDP) and cross-reference it with your in-store or online data.
It is important that you continue to water and even fertilize your plant. Send prospects personalized messages showing new products or features you currently have available, offer a limited-time promotion, or invite them to your next event.
Let’s watch “Gardening 3.0” in action.
A good example is the return of Motorola in recent years. This telecommunications company targeted baby boomers for years, but after being acquired by Google in 2012, it started targeting millennials and Gen Z. How? Using social media, working with influencers and creating experiences at events attended by their new target audience.
Ketrina Dunagan, vice president of global brand and marketing communications at Motorola, explained this philosophy as follows: “I really believe that it is important for brands to connect with those generations of consumers who do not covet the device themselves – they covet what they can produce with it.”
For example, Motorola created moments at different music events, including a music festival produced by my company, to allow customers to interact with its product. Prior to the event, Motorola encouraged fans to come see them at the music event, offering them festival benefits. They built a special exhibition where festival-goers could take pictures. Customers were encouraged to post these moments on social media to share memorable experiences with their friends.
You don’t necessarily have to be a big brand to do event marketing well. Before attending large music festivals, start with small events. Trade shows and conferences are great options if you don’t have a big budget to start with. This will allow you to build connections in your field, get a feel for event marketing, and gather customer insights.
At first, you might think these are old-fashioned marketing techniques and that experience isn’t part of the game. That’s not true. Apply some of my 3.0 gardening methods. Trade shows probably have a social media page where you can contact customers before the event. Or contact some of the speakers and ask them to serve as “ambassadors” who could introduce your product. There are ways to think outside the box, without costing you an arm and a leg.