Like it or not, the attention economy is our new reality.
Our minds have been successfully hijacked by Facebook notifications, newsfeed updates, and tweets.
The increased waves of information and visual stimuli are challenging our already fragmented attention span.
Never before have we experienced such a degree of attention scarcity and focus deficit.
As Dr. A.K. Pradeep highlights in his book The Buying Brain, “Our senses are taking in about 11 million bits of information every second. Our conscious brains—that part of thinking in which we are aware of thinking—can only process, at best, 40 bits of information per second. All the rest is processed subconsciously. That’s a ratio, if I’m doing my math correctly, of 99.999 percept subconscious to conscious processing.”
Yes, you heard that correctly.
Although we take in approximately 11 million bits of information per second, we can process only 40 bits.
As Pradeep specifies in his book, marketing professionals deal have a well-defined challenge: “How do I get into that 40 bits of consciously considered information?”
Standing out as a brand and breaking through the noise can feel, in some cases, like an impossible mission.
Some crazy data about the information clutter
According to Robert Safian, the editor and managing director of Fast Company magazine, “This is the modern media scape: An adrenaline-fueled, dopamine-engineered, titillating, exhilarating, unending plea for your ears, eyes, and mind. The channels are phone and screen, earbud and headset, social and search. The pace is relentless, and exhausting. Yet. We. Just. Cant. Stop.”
Moreover, as Safian notes, “In today’s attention economy, any brand or business that wants to establish or maintain its relevance needs to grapple with these realities.”
Gartner’s 2016 Digital Marketing Channel Survey shows the following data: “Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they have a social advertising program in place right now but that number will more than double in the coming year, with an additional 42 percent starting sociacl advertising efforts for the first time.”
In 2018, these numbers are undoubtedly higher.
Considering this, how can your brand break through the information clutter?
Well, you could continue pouring all of your brand promotion money into social media ads, SEO, and Facebook campaigns, or you could invest a part of your financial resources in exploring a new avenue known as event marketing.
Event marketing is not what you think it is
I can practically hear you thinking, “Event marketing? My company doesn’t even run events … why should I waste money on promoting something we don’t do?”
Okay, this term is a bit confusing.
A quick Google search will show you that some people use event marketing in the context of event promotion.
However, these terms aren’t interchangeable.
As Marketo indicates, “Event marketing describes the process of developing a themed exhibit, display, or presentation to promote a product, service, cause, or organization leveraging in-person engagement.”
In other words, event marketing is an efficient way of generating new leads, educating people about your products or services, increasing customer engagement, providing personalized brand experience to prospective clients, and raising brand awareness.
As Greg Oates, editor at Skift Magazine, highlights, “CMOs are investing more in live events because they deliver brand messaging effectively amid the growing cacophony of digital marketing in our daily lives.”
According to the “Experiential Marketing Content Benchmarking Report” by EventTrack 2017, “There is no other marketing medium that provides anywhere near the power of live experiences to generate authentic customer content that event participants share enthusiastically with their friends, family and social networks.”
On the other hand, Markdebrand published a few numbers that look more than convincing:
- 74% of customers will have a better opinion of your products or services after attending your brand event.
- 70% of attendees may become regular customers after an experiential marketing event.
- 80% of attendants will be more inclined to purchase a product or services after live demonstrations and free samples.
- 71% of event attendees will share the information about their brand experience with their peers.
Sounds crazy, especially if you didn’t take brand events seriously ... until now.
“But how does this work?” you may be asking.
The value ladder of event marketing
Whether you are representing a startup or a big company, know that events can be a powerful promotional tool.
Depending on your goals, you can easily design brand events for different audiences.
From leads and customers to employees and industry influencers, by running an event, you can reunite key stakeholders while simultaneously showcasing your brand.
So how brand events work?
If we imagined the value ladder of event marketing, we’d be able to identify the following stages:
Phase #1. Grabbing and retaining your audience’s attention
Let’s say you have a marketing-related startup or business. What do you think would be more appealing and attention-grabbing for your audiences (or even employees): an Instagram or Facebook post with a quote from business guru Gary Vaynerchuk, or a live event with him?
Obviously, your target groups would be more intrigued to listen this titan of marketing in person. If executed correctly, events can become the perfect platform for bites no one can ignore.
Phase #2. Connecting and building meaningful relationships
Although we are comfortably living in a digital world, we can’t deny the increasing importance of face-to-face experiences.
“The Decision to Attend” 2017 study, conducted by The Experience Institute, highlighted that 76% of the interviewed people (from different generations) confirmed the relevance of live events as a positive environment for building connections.
As a result, these new relationships can strengthen the network around your brand. Apart from that, it can help you interact more with your audiences and better understand their needs and expectations.
Phase #3. Engaging your audiences
Compared to your desperate attempts to make people engage more on your Facebook page, event marketing can actually urge attendees to create a community around your brand.
Because of their character, events are the perfect medium for engagement.
Be it through co-creative activities or shared experiences, you’ll have a wonderful opportunity to set up different dynamics. As a result, you'll make your audiences interact and engage with your brand.
Phase #4. Providing MASSIVE value
We are always motivated to ask for things, instead of give. This happens all the time.
You ask your target groups to read your emails, click on the articles you’re sending them, check out new demos, or schedule a quick call so that you could explain them the benefits of your services or products.
Event marketing, instead, shifts the dynamic from asking to giving, which is a more effective way to strengthen the relationship between the brand and your audiences.
Phase #5. Building positive experiences
There’s nothing more powerful for a brand than the possibility of generating positive and memorable experiences for target groups.
Everything starts from here.
If you want to build a loyal community around your brand, you must create emotional bounds between your company and your audiences.
If you want to generate new leads after your events, it’s your responsibility to implant positive associations in your attendees’ minds.
Finally, if you want to transform your leads into customers, providing emotionally gratifying experiences is necessary.
As you can see, event marketing can walk you through all the stages from grabbing the attention of your target groups to achieving your sales goals. The only thing you must do is take good advantage of this incredible tool.
How to use event marketing the right way
Step 1. Define your goals
I know you’re sick and tired of hearing this tip. Every single article out there urges you to set up clear goals.
However, in this case, it’s really important to know exactly what you want to achieve by running brand events.
Let me show you why.
For example, if your goal is to strengthen your authority, you can always run a content-driven event, where you could present interesting researches and findings that can add real value to your attendees.
If you want to encourage employee advocacy, you can always run a brand event for your teams, diversifying the experience with loyalty-building and emotionally bounding activities.
If your intention is to attract leads and potential customers, you can design an event focused on solving your buyer personas’ problems. Planning a brand event is like putting together a puzzle: all the pieces have to be a perfect fit in order to complete the image.
Step 2. Figure out your audience
The beautiful part of event marketing is that you can use it for both external and internal audiences.
Brand events work for your employees and partners, for your sponsors and investors, for your leads and customers.
Depending on your goals, you can design a mixed or a well-targeted brand event. Each target group will require different dynamics and marketing-driven actions.
Step 3. Establish the type of brand event you want to run
Just like a color has different shades, there are various types of brand events. From content-oriented and product lunches to networking and fireside chats with industry influencers, event marketing can take multiple forms. Having your goals firmly in place, you’ll be able to decide the most appropriate format for your event.
Step 4. Design a unique brand experience for your attendees
Before planning your brand event, keep in mind the need to design a compelling brand experience, which will encourage your attendees to feel the essence of your brand firsthand.
According to "Brand Experience: A New Era in Marketing," brand experience is “the art of bringing brands and organizations to life by designing a sensory experience that creates a lasting and meaningful relationship between the brand and an individual.”
In other words, a good brand experience usually involves immersive storytelling and emotion-based activities.
Step 5. Ensure valuable and regular follow-ups
Event marketing is not about only the face-to-face experience itself, it’s also about the chance of building and maintaining meaningful connections with the attendees after the event is over.
So before planning your brand event, decide how you’ll communicate with the attendees afterward.
For an efficient follow-up strategy, apart from the standard thank-you emails, engage with your attendees by sharing relevant content that was discussed during the event (presentations, videos, etc.).
You can also send them special offers or the chance to be the first ones to try your new products.
You need to take control over the way you’re delivering your brand messages. Don’t rush to pour your money into social media ads. That’s a good way to make your brand seen, but it’s not enough.
People are becoming oblivious about the traditional forms of media.
That’s why you must think about generating live experiences to deliver your brand content. So if you really want to reconnect with your current clients (or maybe employees), think about planning and running a brand event.
Invest in face-to-face interactions with your prospective clients (or your employees, depending on your goals).
Event marketing is one of the most efficient ways to generate new leads, increase brand awareness, and reach potential clients. So start planning your first (or second, or third) brand event right now!