Creating unforgettable experiences that set your brand apart, deliver results

Events, such as festivals, fairs and concerts are an escape — places where people can go to eat, relax and recharge. It’s a setting in which people expect to have fun and enjoy out-of-the-ordinary experiences. It also provides a unique marketing opportunity.

“Events offer a chance for brands to engage consumers with one-on-one, face-to-face marketing, which means there’s more time to get the brand in consumers’ hands and create a dialogue,” says Jeff Milgrom, president and CEO of Event Marketing Strategies, celebrating its 35th anniversary.

“Surprise people and engage them with experiences at an event,” he says. “Experiential marketing — marketing that allows a consumer to actively explore a product or service — engages people in unique settings. Brand ambassadors on Segways passing out food samples and coupons during a parade, or a scavenger hunt using smartphones that drives foot traffic into retail stores in a quest for free tickets to a concert are ways to break out of passive ads and give a company’s target audience an experience they’ll remember.”

Smart Business spoke with Milgrom about experiential marketing tactics and event marketing strategies that create brand awareness.

What should companies know about experiential marketing?

Experiential marketing is one of the fastest growing segments in the marketing industry. More companies are allocating a greater portion of their advertising spend — 6.1 percent in 2015 — into experiential marketing campaigns because they’ve found it’s a better way to engage event audiences with their brand.

With waning consumer brand loyalty, experiential marketing at events is one way to capture attention and create awareness. In 2014, Event Marketing Institute reported that 74 percent of participants who purchased a brand once were likely to become regular customers after engaging with the brand at an event, and 93 percent said events were more effective marketing tools than television commercials. Companies have found that it can be a cost-effective approach to marketing.

How can companies best leverage events to fulfill marketing objectives?

The most important factor is the event itself. Consider the type of event, its reputation and timing, location and venue, and the advertising or sponsorship opportunities it offers. Look at the event’s demographics, and estimated and historic attendance. If those elements align with a company’s consumer demographics and brand profile, then it’s a good fit. The next step is crafting the marketing approach.

When deciding what to do, focus on one or two objectives. Also consider the message you want to deliver, the results you want to achieve and a method to measure them. For example, a snack company may want to focus on trial and awareness of a new product. In that case, it’s all about getting people to sample it; however, using some simple game or colorful interactive element to reinforce why it’s great or different in order to be memorable will also reinforce the brand. Other companies may want to educate attendees. An electric company may want to teach people about energy efficiency. That should involve engaging digital or hands-on elements that keep people’s attention and make an impact for action post-event. Finally, with all of this in mind, set realistic goals.

Who should consider taking an experiential marketing approach?

Packaged goods, electronics and insurance companies have been using experiential marketing at events with tremendous success. Retailers and automotive dealers have used it effectively as well to drive traffic before and after an event.

There’s been a lot of activity in the utility industry with electricity and gas companies helping consumers understand energy conservation. Health care and many nonprofits have entered this education and outreach arena and experienced success by delivering key messages.

Experiential marketing is a chance for brands to break through daily advertising clutter. Companies that can engage consumers’ senses and deliver a brand dialogue rather than an advertising monologue are sure to stand out from the competition.

Insights Event Marketing is brought to you by Event Marketing Strategies