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June 11, 2020

Creating Durable Brand Awareness with Events

Trinity Lancaster

Differentiating any brand in the oversaturated marketing environment that consumers and decision-makers navigate on a daily basis can be tricky. Having a strategy to leverage event opportunities can be an amazing way to attract your key targets and own an experience that will stay with them for a long time after the investment.

Here are a few common questions clients and marketers ask when deciding whether or not events are a viable option for their goals. In the “new normal,” it’s going to be those that pivot and make a plan to effectively evolve their event marketing plan that are going to reap some incredible brand equity.

How are brands leveraging events to get results compared to other spends like trade shows and sponsorships?

We all like to be rewarded and hospitality events allow for a casual exchange to share ideas and find pain points with your customer. Leveraging a private event in tandem with a trade show allows you to build a rapport outside of the buyer/seller mentality. It allows for the sales person to become a friend.

The best sales tool at a hospitality event are referrals. What other time will you have current and future customers in the same place at the same time?

What are some good goals/metrics a brand should consider when planning a brand event?

Our successes are measured in the quality of our attendees, the leads, and the relationships gained from the events.

We typically get last minute attendees that forgot to RSVP or were acquired within the days leading up to the event. We determine that we could produce a higher perceived value by entertaining a client away from a large industry event where there are hundreds of attendees that have paid to vie for their attention. Don’t get me wrong, tradeshows play their part, but if you are hoping to stand out… good luck.

Hosting an event also allows the target customer to interact with an existing customer, giving opportunities for cross-pollination, and brand advocacy. Providing a chef procured menu featuring products allows for customers to see and sample your food in an actual foodservice environment rather than out of a 20×20 booth.

It’s also a great idea to work with tradeshow coordinators to see if there are opportunities to partner with them on a sponsored event. Again, this gives you targets a break from the booth, and puts them in an experience on your terms.

What are some successful data you’ve seen from branded events?

Our client sales teams have seen a significant increase in quality leads gained from special B2B branded events rather than the trade show “trick or treaters” (tradeshow attendees just collecting free food and prizes.) A well executed branded event gives your sales force an opportunity to connect with a target customer in a less formal venue—and on your terms.

Having a good pre-registration or onsite registration system in place helps capture critical contact information from guest. This allows for the host or sponsor to have this information for follow up post event. It’s impossible to see and talk with everyone, but the guest list provides a record rather than hoping they have a business card or worry with scanning badges at the booth.

Are there any warnings, or pitfalls, that a brand should be aware of when planning an event?

There are three critical parts of a successful event execution; Location, Food, and Entertainment.

Some of the challenges when planning an event are determining its location. When you are hosting a private event during a tradeshow, you want it to be easily accessible for attendees. Do you want to be close to the Convention Center or close to the nightlife (restaurants, hotels, etc)? Any event that is inconvenient to attend will suffer.

Make your location a destination worth the stop. Is it the venue, the view, the experience? When your guests are deciding whether to come to your event or the competitor, the proximity, and destination an be the deciding factor.

The culinary experience for a food brand provides the base to an event. It becomes about the idea, the versatility, and access to your product. Make it memorable and relevant to your targets.

A branded event provides a set amount of time that you and your trained sales team can work the room and build relationships with possible prospects as well as catch up with a customer. The best promotion is a customer telling a target how your brand has served them.

How do branded events keep the momentum of relevance after hosting an event?

The true success of an event is measured in the post event follow up. It’s important that there is proper follow up with those that attended and even those that missed it. Post- event follow-up provides an opportunity to casually relate to a target about an experience you shared at the event or to provide more information on a product question. This gives your sales team the opportunity to have a more genuine, less forced, follow up with targets. Having a formal lead scoring process is key to measure success and failures of those leads through the sales funnel. It also can help identify higher engaged targets.

How are branded events going to evolve under the “new normal” post-COVID?

Clients and customers are having to navigate a really, complicated series of issues that have arisen from the coronavirus outbreak. The core needs of safety and health must be well-planned, communicated, and executed to insure the comfort and engagement of attendees.

The good news is that people still want, and need, to congregate with their peers in order to do business. Finding innovative ways to facilitate that with your brand events will create a leadership position. Leverage technology to help provide a digital experience for your targets that provides for social interaction in a controlled manner.

As the needs for distancing evolve, it will still be important to provide a level of assurance for attendees that you’ve invested in providing a safe and fun event experience. Be sure you know the guidelines and restrictions for the area your event will take place and work with the facilities to build a meaninful positive encounter.

Other thoughts

Hosting an event allows you to create an appreciative environment where clients are shown the value of their loyalty. By giving targets this “reward”, a stronger relationship is forged.

At the end of the day, it’s about getting that face to face time and building the relationships that can withstand whatever the economical landscape happens to be. Clients have lots of options and with your competitors clamoring for their time. Your event has to be worthy and memorable. Opportunity to connect with ideal potential customers also allows narrowing of the field to targets that meet a specific criteria.

If you’re ready to start planning and developing a branded event, you need an agency partner that can help you make the most of the investment. Creative Energy has been developing successful event activations for clients for nearly 30 years. Let’s have a discussion and see what experience you can offer to your most valuable partners.