Events, if managed correctly, can be an effective use of marketing budget. There are a number of reasons why events can gain more traction for small businesses than many other traditional marketing platforms:
- Events are a great way to engage consumers directly with your brand, your people, your value system and your business offering.
- When consumers have a physical brand experience, they are more likely to talk about it, or buy into it, thus increasing brand awareness and preference.
- Events create a unique opportunity to introduce new target markets to your brand that might not have been possible or too costly via traditional marketing activity. Furthermore, events can ensure you are in more control of who encounters your brand, as a result of your event marketing strategy or guest list management.
- Events are an excellent opportunity to secure free social and traditional media exposure through event listings, advertorials, consumer generated content, influencer blogs and by inviting media representatives to your event.
- Events can showcase how much you value your guests and customers by providing them with a carefully thought out, positive experience.
- Events encourage new business partnerships in the form of guests, sponsorships, media and other relevant stakeholders.
- Events allow companies to get their products into consumer’s hands directly, without going through expensive retail or wholesale channels.
Claire Alexander of Firecracker Marketing & Events recommends focusing on well-defined objectives when thinking about your event. “Top line questions should include – Why are we doing this? What do we want to achieve from the event? What are the event KPIs? How do we want our guests to feel? Every small business will have their own distinct objectives, but they must be clearly defined before any event planning begins,” says Claire.
“Producing an event is demanding and multi-disciplined, but there’s nothing more rewarding than showcasing the final product and seeing guests enjoy themselves. I’m also intrigued by how events capture people’s fascination and brand loyalty long after the event has taken place,” she says.
Claire’s event guidelines for smaller companies:
Draw up a comprehensive income and expenditure budget. It’s exciting to plan an event but make sure you’ve crunched the numbers first. Budgets can make or break your event.
- Invest in design. Create a unique event brand that looks beautiful and speaks to your audience. A strong event brand is the basis for visually impressive marketing tools that cut through the clutter. Excellent design is often the first and most continuous factor in event marketing.
- Hire professionals and delegate. Speculate to accumulate. Hire experts that know what they’re doing to ensure your event and its touch points are professional. You’re running an event for important business reasons, so invest wisely in people.
- Don’t publicise until you’ve defined the event. It may sound obvious, but so many people jump the gun and advertise without confirming what they’re actually offering.
- Maximise marketing and customer retention. Events are not a stand alone entity. They help generate interaction with your brand via the pre and post marketing and publicity activity. Make sure you have a retention plan to keep the conversation going with guests and stakeholders long after the event is over.
- Be unique. We’ve all been to the same old networking event or conference. People are more likely to remember something unique and interesting. This psychological process is related to Daniel Kahneman’s ‘Peak End Theory’ where people will remember one or two elements about their experience, rather than the experience as a whole. Whether it’s an amazing event design or feature, set the trends, don’t follow them.
- Stimulate the senses. Clearly define what you want your guests to see, feel, touch, smell and hear. Ensure your production schedule is considerate of what your guests are going to sense during their experience.
Claire Alexander is the Event Manager at Firecracker Marketing & Events www.firecracker.pro. She has been nominated as a finalist in the top 40 Women in Meetings, Incentives, and Conferences & Events Industry Awards 2016. Want to get in touch? You can find Claire on Twitter and Facebook.