The event marketing definition is a wide-ranging one, but at its core, event marketing is an effective way to humanize your business through a number of proven social and promotional tactics.
While there are many flashy event marketing ideas from large-scale businesses, you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to run a successful event marketing campaign.
With some careful planning and foresight, you’ll soon be making brand-focused impressions on future customers.
- Know Your Customer
As one of the cardinal rules of business, this tip should come as no surprise. There’s a reason why commercials targeting the elderly regularly reinforce the concept of security and toy commercials tend to take place in a world free of adults.
These commercials have such a clear understanding of their customers that they’re able to accurately pinpoint their demographics’ worldview.
Just like any advertising opportunity, your event marketing ideas should be built upon a fundamental understanding of who your customer is and what they want.
Take, for instance, Great Lakes Integrated’s Allen Theater fundraising campaign.
To be able to restore the historic Allen Theater for Cleveland State University’s theater department, wealthy donors were needed to cover the costs. So to help encourage donations, GLI’s campaign stressed the importance of the past glory and future possibilities of the venue. This insightful choice was a perfect fit for the target group, as affluent individuals are often highly interested in the concept of legacy.
- Tailor to the Event
Directly related to knowing your customer is the importance of knowing your event. The tactics you’d use at a trade show marketing event versus a fair, concert or sporting event should be very different and any change in locale should bring with it a change in approach.
While at a social event or entertainment venue, remember that your company is essentially a guest in the customer’s world. Be very mindful of not only bringing marketing materials your customer is likely to enjoy, but also making an effort to connect your product or business as closely as possible to the location.
The best way to go about this is looking for cross-promotional opportunities. For example, when the Disney film Big Hero Six debuted, the company promoted the film at marathons and half-marathons with a large, eye-catching inflatable balloon of its robot character Baymax.
A marathon was a logical choice of venue since the character is a medical assistant who endorses healthy living. And while this is indeed one of the “flashy” ideas discussed earlier, the central conceit is still sound and is what you should strive for while integrating your brand with an event.
- Think “Free and Useful”
As mentioned in the previous section, making sure your event marketing materials are of interest to your potential customers is vital. To leave a lasting impression, you’ll want to abide by the philosophy of “free and useful.”
“Free” should go without saying, since the concept instantly grabs attention, but on its own it’s not enough. All too often marketing materials such as buttons, stickers and posters leave potential customers cold as these materials inherently value the brand over the customer. You don’t want someone walking away from your booth thinking, “What am I going to do with this?”
It’s for this reason that the usefulness of free materials is so important. Politicians know this, which is why every election season you’ll find yourself the new recipient of pens, pencils, calendars and notepads. Keychains, water bottles and hats are other items with utility far beyond a single event and should be staples of your promotional tool bag.
Great Lakes Integrated’s approach to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a good example of this. Along with their welcome kits supplying promotional hats, T-shirts and tote bags, they also included toy forklifts – a terrific way to entice both children and parents to attend the rodeo well into the future.
- Get Creative
If you want to get the most out of your event marketing opportunities, you need to get creative. Not only do customers react positively to free and useful promotional materials, but they also respond well to interesting and fun activities.
For more experienced marketers or those with greater capital at their disposal, these activities can range from utilizing interactive displays to sponsoring local art shows to organizing flash mobs.
But deep pockets aren’t a requirement for creativity, and often limitations, financial or otherwise, produce the most creative solutions. Games, trivia contests and drawings are cheap and effective ways to attract attention at an event and can be very engaging for your customers.
If there’s one point you should internalize above all others at a marketing event, it’s the importance of connecting to your customer.
While many techniques to attract customers are mostly passive and one-directional (a commercial, Internet ad, billboard, etc.), event marketing opportunities allow the customer to interact with your business first-hand, potentially leaving a more lasting impression.
Creative activities, free and useful promotional materials, and a tailored marketing campaign are all vital techniques, but your efforts will be wasted without a positive connection to the person in front of you. The customer is key, and if you build outwardly from that notion, your event should be a complete success.