With the advent and ubiquity of social networks, search engines, and smartphones, the past decade has seen a major shift in marketing strategy. A marketer’s job is no longer to shout a message about a product at consumers, but to cater to consumers and provide them with any information they may need. In other words, a marketer’s focus used to be the product, and now it’s the consumer.
A successful marketing strategy has always included building a recognizable and reliable brand. Before the age of the Internet, this typically required organizations to come up with catchy, memorable names and slogans, and to attach well-designed logos to their marketing materials. But consumers today are inundated with 140-character messages and professional photos and images—so how do marketers ensure that their organizations stand out?
Brands as relationships
To start, we need to think of brands differently. The American Marketing Association still defines brand as the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” But consumers see hundreds of ads every day, not to mention the hundreds or potentially thousands of emails and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and blog posts to which they are exposed. The average consumer has become a master of quickly sifting through the images and text that make up our world of digital noise.
So, is a distinct name or symbol really enough to build a successful, recognizable brand? In a recent article in Harvard Business Review, Mark Boncheck and Cara France write that in the past, “you had a relationship with a brand. But in this social age, brands are the relationships.” Just as marketers have shifted their focus from the product to the consumer, in building a brand they must also shift their focus from creating a logo and slogan to building a relationship between their organization and audience. Logos and slogans are still important, but they’re no longer enough.
Building relationships with consumers through experiences
Think about your brand as your customer’s experience with your company. Your brand is not something static—it’s an experience you must continually deliver, and it’s something you can deliver through multiple channels.
It’s not a coincidence, however, that with today’s plugged-in and online consumer base, the most effective marketing channels are often offline. Experiential and event marketing tactics allow companies to cut through the digital noise, and they provide a space for organizations to make an engaging and powerful impression on their prospects and customers. In fact, 98% of consumers feel more inclined to purchase after attending an activation, and 74% of consumers have a better impression about an organization after an in-person event.
It’s also important to note that an in-person event will not only make an impression on those who are able to attend. 71% of attendees say they share information about the event with family members and peers, and 34% of consumers say they share a post about the event on social media channels. These word-of-mouth referrals are powerful: 92% of people trust recommendations from their friends, and 70% trust online consumer opinions.
If we stop thinking of brands as the logos that we simply stamp on products and instead understand brands as the way in which organizations can continually prove their value propositions to their respective audiences, companies can begin to build more meaningful engagement and loyalty among consumers, and can persuasively differentiate themselves from competitors.
Engage consumers, build trust and drive business
In a world that’s constantly online, offline and in-person marketing channels provide the ultimate space for organizations to show—not tell—consumers that their company provides value. During an event or experiential activation, an organization can capture full attention of its audience, build trust, and encourage positive word-of-mouth and social chatter. By consistently and deeply engaging with consumers in this way, companies can build brands that are far more memorable and meaningful than those that completely rely on well-designed logos and pithy slogans.
Do you want some tips to help improve your event marketing strategy, or to get it off the ground? Check out our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Successful Events.
Event pros, how do you think your events have impacted customer loyalty and your company's bottom line? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @eventfarm.