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How to get the most out of experiential marketing

How to get the most out of experiential marketing

This guide looks at innovations in the experiential marketing and events industry and asks how agencies are stretching client’s budgets to deliver events with limited resources. Chris Carter, Director at SMP looks at the potential pitfalls of cutting back and scraping by or abandoning long running events altogether.

There is no denying that the current economic climate is placing immense pressure on brands making one on one contact with consumers and business partners more important than ever.

In the current climate downscaling or modifying experiential marketing activity to satisfy client’s objectives within a more limited budget has become a fundamental part of strategy planning and negotiation.

As a result, agencies are finding themselves under increasing pressure to consider other options or to become more innovative as they help Clients re-evaluate their programmes. Solutions could range from adjusting event tactics, launching events online as well as integrating online as a fundamental part of the strategy or even amortising event spend by ‘sweating’ assets across other programmes.

However when reviewing event tactics, it is crucial that the campaign objectives and ability to deliver the strongest ROI are not compromised.

By firstly understanding which parts are essential and which are more peripheral, you can identify which elements to scale down or remove altogether, without losing overall impact. If on the one hand your objective is to build brand awareness at, for example a music festival, then maintaining the headline position might still be the best tactic.

On the other hand, if the focus of your objectives has shifted from Awareness to Conversion then a consumer engagement programme at the event coupled with a sales driving tie up with a key retailer (e.g. drive-to-retail vouchers or product offers) could prove to be a far more effective approach.

In terms of ‘Sweating’ assets, this does not need to be limited to the repurposing and redeployment of physical event structures, but instead extends to, for example, media captured at the events which could provide content for advertising and training initiatives, stretching the budget and reach of the programme.

To achieve this, Agencies need to approach event planning with asset sweating in mind. Another option is to amortise cost by identifying complementary brands that will add value to the consumer experience whilst contributing to the overall cost.

A key and growing area of event activity is utilising the power of online. Launching an event online can not only prove extremely cost-effective, but also create a powerful platform for engaging with your target audience.

By organising a ‘webinar’ for example, you can create the look and feel of an event online, as well as engaging with a wider Global audience, without actually incurring the cost of organising a live event.

Also by employing social media techniques on websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you can promote your event by creating discussion forums and comment to initiate a ‘buzz’ surrounding the topics and participants at your event. Activity such as blogging and additional discussion forums are valuable for post event feedback, and will in turn prolong exposure of your brand and event online.

In terms of maximising visibility of offline events, online marketing is a proven and highly cost effective medium. The benefits of pre-event online exposure will not only communicate your offering to a wider target audience, but also attract many more people to attend the actual event.

In addition you could implement an online facility post event that could allow people to access exclusive event content as well as provide an opportunity for feedback - therefore creating an ongoing dialogue with your target audience. So by leveraging the power of social media to communicate the event, you can both maximise visibility as well as minimise cost.

Therefore, online undoubtedly plays a key role in offline event activity for pre and post event initiatives as outlined above, and provides an effective means to run an event under a more restricted budget in today’s climate.

Furthermore, the additional benefits of comprehensive analytics, the ability to drive-to-(r)etail and create an effective platform for on-going dialogue with consumers (through social networking and direct comms) also makes it increasingly more compelling. As a result, marketers need to make sure they fully understand the extent of these benefits when considering a slimmer marketing strategy.

Overall, scaling back on activity can also bring potential pitfalls. It is all too easy to cut back on the most compelling part of the programme under the guise of ‘saving money’ resulting in a highly compromised campaign which fails to deliver against the Brand’s Objectives.

However by modifying event activity as discussed as well as harnessing the power of online, marketers are able to overcome these challenges and produce effective work within a tighter budget as well as capitalise on the growing trend of social media techniques.

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