Experiential has had a great run but many event organisers and event attendees are looking for more. Visitors are increasingly digitally-savvy and are looking for that next great moment, worthy of sharing across their feeds. The question is: how to achieve that moment? This article looks at five key aspects that will help you achieve event success in a post-experiential event landscape.
Event delegates are immersed in branded landscapes multiple times throughout every day. To transport guests out of their digital realm, or their cynical mindset for a short second, a full immersion is needed. The brand story must be delivered in a way that charges all senses and appeals to both the visceral and logical sides of the brain. A fully immersive experience should create waves of goosebumps, shifts in emotion and an electric current which is tangible throughout a room.
You may have planned the agenda, room and setup but have you thought about how the experience will make your attendees feel? From applying scents, wind effects, lighting and even the feel of the chairs your attendees sit on. All will contribute to their overall immersion within your experience.
Make your event’s décor and activities an extension of your brand. If you are struggling to find an event theme, look back at your history and forward to your future. From something as abstract as ‘success’ or ‘motivation’, to a concrete concept that’s taken from your brand’s ancestry; each will give you a starting point through which to achieve immersion in a post-experiential marketing landscape.
An omnichannel event experience connects visitors across multiple devices and offline, making for a more seamless and holistic experience. This allows attendees to connect the dots between the brand in the event experience and its ‘realworld’ presence. Increasing sales and brand advocacy as a result.
Omnichannel experiences form multiple checkpoints between brand and visitor. The event attendee who has the event app downloaded on their phone is contactable with post-show thought-pieces and follow-ups much further down the line. Eventually, as Beacon technology takes more prominence, event apps can be used to communicate with attendees outside of the event doors at any brand checkpoint throughout the world.
Excitement within events also fuels experience sharing. Creating the right omnichannel connection between the physical event and its digital counterparts will raise the amount and reach of social sharing. Some of the ways social channels can be integrated into the event is through visual signs and digital signposts showing event handles and hashtags. Speaker hooks and presentations that ask for feedback and questions along social channels.
An event website is also a key part of the omnichannel experience. Keep this relevant and you can guarantee that your event visitors will return throughout the year ahead.
Following a wave of experiential, event attendees have become desensitised to the wow factor of many brand experiences. Where perfume brands create indoor gardens as standard and experiential spaces pop up in public transport, the format of an event must take on a new level.
Virtual reality and 360º experiences allow attendees to navigate their own way through your brand. This creates a more emotive experience, lodged within the senses. Integrating technology that allows your visitors to become fully immersed in the event is one format which can achieve great results.
Another element of event format you must consider is how to ensure your event goes beyond the venue walls and into the realworld. Within dog training, there is something called ‘living room manners’ which refers to a dog who has perfect manners when in in the living room of the home, but who loses or forgets how to behave when in the outside world. This analogy is often true of events. What your visitors see and feel at the event, within a manufactured format and design, can easily be lost when they move away from the space.
Ensuring that they have takeaways, either mental or physical, helps your event format to transgress the physical walls in which it is enclosed. Digital channels which exude the format of your event and campaigns across social media, advertising and cross-channel partners can also help cement your event in the minds of all who attend.
The typical life of an event is short-lived but the lifespan of a community doesn’t have to be. Event organisers and brand managers need to create an event cycle that pays its rent all year round and a community that outlives the event itself. The key? Creating fandom.
With the world teeming with creatives, bloggers, social media influencers and snap-chatters, the opportunity to build fandom online that translates to offline is huge.
So how do you create it? Think of it this way: if you go to an event and it’s okay, you may tell one or two people. If you enter into an entirely new, sensual, intimate event experience where your senses come alive and new ideas begin to flow through your mind, you’ll share knowledge with everyone you meet. Not only that, but the knowledge you share will be personal and compelling and therefore more relatable.
Building a community takes this feeling and spreads it far wider than a two-day event alone. Instead of being event attendees, or even an event community, you build a private network. Fans who are engaged with the event experience all year round. Where value can be built and ideas shared from any time and anywhere.
Create this type of experience for your event attendees and your fandom will spread like fire, not just at the event but into the digital realm and for months to come.
The ‘design, build, remove’ event cycle is no longer enough. The event must take a holistic approach where the brand comes into contact with its customers across the board.
Focusing on your pre- and post-show strategy is almost as important as focusing on the event itself. Tailored communications and follow-ups will safeguard the legacy of your event and futureproof it for the year ahead. Think of your legacy as a series of steps. Perhaps one day after the event you send out a personalised thank you, then a week later the show highlights via YouTube. Perhaps after a month you create a nostalgic revisit to the event.
Once you have your legacy planned it is much easier to keep your community alive and engaged until the next time you are all in a room together.
If you are looking to create a great event experience, by all means do experiential. But if you are looking to engage your participants, build an army of loyal attendees and enrich their lives with true brand value, then you need to create something more. Building an experience that touches your attendees across all channels, where they can return at any time and truly have all senses engaged will fuel fandom and brand advocacy. Ensuring that your event experience and theirs, is a long-lasting one.
Suzanne has 25 years experience as a marketing strategist and consultant and helps brands to achieve superior brand environments at 4D Design.