Events: How Brands Can Win in the Experience Economy

Sarah Friedman on 9/28/17 10:25 AM

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we’re living in the experience economy. More than ever before, it’s about how your brand interacts with your buyer. Today's buyer craves to be intrinsically understood on a personal level and presented with solutions that seamlessly align with who they are.

This shift in individualized consumerism means a shift in how we market. The best way for us to deeply understand our buyers is to follow their experiences.

Brands need to really know who is reading their emails, subscribing to their blog, responding to their event invitations. Standard metrics and basic prospect information aren’t strong enough engagement indicators, nor do these things enable marketers to maximize their efforts.

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The livelihood of brands today depends on deeper data insight, and that data is available through events. Live experiences are the only marketing channel that can measure how and why buyer’s engage and immerse themselves in a brand when they’re not online.

As marketers, we must include an experiential channel in our overarching strategy. Doing so gives us a sustainable, data-driven platform to measure the fusion of digital consumption and in-person experience, and how the combination impacts brand loyalty. This holistic picture gives marketers an indispensable data advantage, and will help to reach the right people in a way that feels innovative and individualized, time and time again.

Experiential strategies have massive, unique power to provide key audience data, but identifying how to start this kind of strategy isn’t always easy. In the not too distant future, event technology will automate the analysis and consolidation of consumer data and predict when, where and how live experiences should occur to maximize personalization for both buyer and brand. Formalized predictive event technology is certainly on the industry’s roadmap, but it’s not here quite yet.

But in its absence, today’s experiential technology gives marketers the data collection tools they need to strengthen the power of live experiences and extract invaluable consumer information that simply can’t be gathered by any other channel.

Not convinced yet? Here are the top reasons I think you should get started with experiential:

You don’t get to know someone by meeting them once. Experiential marketing is an immersive strategy aimed at converting the prospect into a true advocate. Just like anything else, that takes time. Experiences provide insights that the marketer can’t get anywhere else, but hosting one experience won’t be a game changer on its own. When the mindset shifts from planning singular (sometimes random) events to planning broader, thorough experiential strategies, that’s when you’ll see its real power.

In my own marketing department, my team spends a lot of time planning lead generation tactics, editorial calendars, email marketing campaigns and (a lot) more. Nothing is one-off. We think about every initiative first as a broad strategy, and then map out the tactical efforts. The reason? Doing anything one time isn’t actionable. Data about a singular effort isn’t robust or compelling enough for us to know our audience better. As marketers, we’d be doing a fraction of our job (and tapping into a fraction of potential opportunities) if we sent one email, posted one tweet, wrote one blog post, and then stopped.

Events are no different. Marketers need to provide consistent opportunities for people to interact with a brand. This will tell a story about why people show up to events, what they do once they’re on-site, and the actions they take when they leave.

As with everything else, only in aggregate will experiential data be profoundly actionable.

Experiential data is available right now, and it's powerful. In our last blog post, we discussed that targeted guest list segmentation simply has to be the foundation of impactful, data-driven events. Without it, the only thing you’re really setting yourself up to do is treat all attendees as if they’re exactly the same, which won’t bode well in the experience economy.

Segmenting guests pre-event makes it even easier to customize their experience once they’re on site. For example, at conferences, trade shows or exhibits, take it one step further and guide certain guest subsets to specific areas on-site. Use NFC technology to track which booths or brand exhibitions get the most attention across guest groups.

This kind of information makes it easy to nurture prospects based on their identified interests and on-site behavior. Follow-up outreach can be sent in real time to include things like relevant content and promotional offers that help leads inch closer to decision in a much shorter timeframe than the typical buying cycle.

Experiences can give an immediate pulse on what makes potential buyers convert. Experiential marketing can help marketers literally (and quickly) determine if they’re buying what you’re selling. To really understand your consumers, get them on-site, let them experience your brand, and measure their aptitude to engage.

For example, Refinery29’s immersive event, 29 Rooms, is an experiential wonderland built for the brand’s target demographic. Once on-site, guests are educated, entertained, and heavily advertised to in a way that just feels like part of the experience.

During the event, Refinery29 partnered with Snap, Inc. to give guests an opportunity to try Snap Spectacles.  As PSFK.com notes, “This made it easy for guests to record their first hand experience and share it, giving brands more exposure and a glimpse of the exhibition to people who could not attend. It also gave people a chance to decide if they want to purchase a pair of Spectacles for themselves.” What seemed like a fun, social media sharing opportunity for attendees was actually a product demo for Snap, Inc. and a tactic to spread awareness about all the other brands participating in 29 Rooms.

By taking part in a similar exercise, brands can take a person who doesn’t know a company at all from awareness (introduce them to your brand) to familiarity (show them what your service or product does) to consideration (I see why I need this) all within a matter of minutes. In addition to these benefits, it can also spread a wider net for showcasing your brand.

Finally, if you leave with nothing else from this article, leave with this: experiential isn’t intimidating, it’s enlightening. Building an experiential strategy isn’t as hard as you might think it is. It’s intended to enhance your broader efforts, and uncover the missing link of behavioral data that will take your marketing initiatives from good to stellar.



Experiential is even easier with the right tech. Event Farm specializes in providing data to marketers through every single step of the event lifecycle, including info about exactly what happens on-site. This technology takes the guesswork out of understanding the impact of your events and simultaneously helps your brand host engaging experiences for your audience. 

Ready to start your experiential strategy? Click here to see which of our offerings is right for you.

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