Our must-read column, Market Well, explores the key marketing strategies that are essential for the growth of a wellness business.
Every month, Vicky Ellison, who is also the Director of Marketing for Equinox in the UK, examines how brands can create and maintain a marketing campaign that connects with both their intended audience and potential investors.
Providing valuable insight into the methods, services, and tools needed for both new and established businesses to drive exposure and boost brand value, this month Vicky is focusing on extending the reach of brand events…..
Events and experiences have quickly become a staple part of marketing plans as consumers look to connect with like-minded brand communities. Most brand owners are all too aware that creating a successful event takes a lot of work, so how can you maximise your effort by extending the reach of your event beyond the specific date of your activation?
Can you ensure that your event is the cumulative highlight of your strategy and not just a single day that passes by quickly, taking a chunk of your budget with it?
This is a broad topic with numerous approaches, but here are some thought starters for your next branded experience.
Pre-event: Building Your Community
Usually, the focus prior to an event is on ticket sales. But to sell effectively, you will need to build awareness and desire — common tactics include:
Advertising and paid social
If marketing budgets allow, brands often include advertising in a pre-event strategy. If a dedicated media buy is beyond your means, social might offer a more viable option.
If this is the approach you decide to invest in, take time to consider the right places for your event to be promoted.
Where and how do your potential guests consume media? It’s worth digging into the demographics and behaviours of your audience
Instagram for example, has a per-follower engagement rate that is 58 times higher than Facebook, but 90% of users are below 35 with a female skew. If your event is targeting middle-aged males, there are probably better places to invest your budget.
Digital magazine Refinery29 advocates having a robust paid social strategy. In a study conducted by the brand last year, it found that users who were exposed to its entire social funnel – an introductory ad with a brand message, followed by an ad with more information and a clear call to action – were significantly more likely to convert.
For advertising to be effective, you need to gain the attention of your audience. This is becoming increasingly difficult in an age of multiple channels and endless content – everyone is vying for your customer’s attention.
How can you reach your audience effectively in an engaging way? Assess your content.
If it’s the first time hosting your event, pay attention to the visuals you’re using as that can make the difference.
Balance Festival’s first event this summer was seen across print, digital, London Underground poster sites, and the brand’s own title complementary London newspaper ‘Balance’.
The brand didn’t have imagery from a prior activation so it hosted photo shoots with its event ambassadors ahead of the marketing going live to ensure a consistent, eye-catching look and feel across all of its paid, owned and earned touch points.
Creating your own content is an investment, but done well it can make the difference in attracting attention and encouraging those important pre-event purchases.
As Balance Festival showed, event organisers frequently enlist the help of ambassadors for event promotion.
Utilising the networks of your team and customers is cost-effective and supports referral. As market research company Nielsen suggests, people are 4 times more likely to purchase if referred by someone whose opinion they respect.
Wanderlust, the global festival of yoga and wellness, sends content to all its instructors and partners to share in the lead-up to one of its events. They encourage guests to plan their schedule ahead and include social sharing tools within the booking site to help spread the word further.
The pride people feel in taking part, and the power of this type of community building extends the reach and promotion of its events far beyond any paid advertising campaign.
It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to share hashtags and social handles pre-event.
If you can add in filters, or meme generators, that will further help to support your guests in sharing user-generated content from the outset.
Nike covers this area well by helping its followers and event guests to show they’re part of its tribe. Participants receive posts to show they have entered a race and tools to share training along the way through the Nike running app’s social posts.
Utilising your owned channels
It’s not uncommon to see a brand promote events across its social channels, but to find nothing on its website.
Help your potential customers find details of your event by showcasing it in as many places as possible, including your own platforms.
If people have to work too hard to find what they need, you could lose potential buyers.
It is worth having Instagram-worthy elements at your event to support your guests’ personal content creation.
In Adobe’s 2016 ‘State of Content’ report, it found that 29% of people who shared content did so to raise awareness of a particular issue, 21% to show their knowledge of a subject and 20% to connect with like-minded people.
The top reason for sharing was to make people laugh (at 39%), so if it’s appropriate, you could add a little shareable humour to your event.
When considering your content capture plan, remember your objective for the event. A friend who works in medical sales hosted a day for clients with industry leading speakers but was disappointed that some key clients couldn’t attend.
The company’s objective for the event was to showcase its brand as a thought leader. By creating a video highlight reel and capturing stats for a post-event report, she could still connect with customers to highlight the same qualities that were conveyed on the day.
Plan ahead so you don’t close the day wishing that you had booked a better videographer, photographer or copywriter for content capture.
Post-Event and Always On
Having a robust post-event strategy will help extend the life of your event, and support your efforts to build momentum for the next one.
It is often an area that is overlooked after the adrenaline of event day wears off, so it is worth planning ahead.
Sharing your content
Think about the story you want to tell and who you want to reach with that story.
Currently, video represents 74% of internet traffic, a speaker from KPCB shared at this year’s Code conference. Cisco predicts that figure will rise to 80% by 2019 as it’s been shown to offer strong ROI, sales conversions, engagement and customer trust.
If you’re posting a video, YouTube is the channel most people turn to for its large user base, but if you want to have password protected content or feature a soundtrack you might find Vimeo a better choice. Again, it’s worth looking at what you want to achieve with your content as the audience for each offers different strengths.
If you’re using Facebook to showcase your video content, native videos have better reach than embedded clips hosted on another site. A study carried out by Quintly found that native videos have a 1055% higher share rate.
Consider where your audience might engage with your content too. If it’s likely to be during a commute you might want to add copy over the video so it’s still relevant to viewers not using sound. Insider’s Facebook page offers good examples — the brand has built a following of almost 9m through its quick, engaging pieces.
Industry insights and PR
If your event involves expert speakers, perhaps there are insights you can share with media to support your position as an industry thought leader?
Infographics might be seen as old school but if they show genuinely interesting insights they can still be considered worthwhile. Can you condense key sound bites into a press release for post-event coverage, or work with media guests from the event to create in-depth features? Depending on your event and focus this might be a channel to explore.
Don’t underestimate the power of personalised post-event communication. Email is a good way to say thank you and share some of the event highlights.
After the Nike Women’s 10k, participants received personalised montage videos of their team via email that could be posted across social channels to celebrate their success.
The event branding and colours were recognisable across all event assets, creating eye-catching and engaging content participants were happy to post.
You could also create a version to send to contacts from your database that couldn’t attend to show what they missed and build demand for next time.
Building your community through the year
Brands that host events regularly are seeing the value in keeping their audience engaged throughout the year.
The North Face hosts events such as The Mountain Festival, but rather than promoting it just before the event, it builds its following year-round through its ‘Neverstop’ communities in 11 cities.
It offers participants the chance to explore the outdoors every week with activities like climbing, hiking and training, ensuring that it has an army of advocates ready to work with as event dates approach.
Hopefully, these examples will help in your event planning. Most importantly, consider your team’s capacity and focus your time and budget on the areas that will be most effective in achieving your event goals.