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Five Top of Mind Topics from Event Marketing Summit

Five Top of Mind Topics from Event Marketing Summit

Plus: The Health of the Experiential Marketing Industry (it’s good!)

Event marketers from around the globe descended on Salt Lake City last week to network, learn, and keep a finger to the pulse of all things experiential at Event Marketing Summit. The packed three-day schedule included workshops, sessions, speed briefings, and keynotes by experiential leaders like Stephanie Zimmer of Mercedes-Benz, Julia Mize of Anheuser Busch, Luke Zaientz of, and Rob Pace of HP. 

One of the most important takeaways of the three-day conference was the overall health of the industry. In an Eventtrack industry research session hosted by Event Marketer’s Dan Hanover and Mosaic’s Jeff Stelmach, the pair revealed that when compared to the year prior, events as a part of the marketing mix are up; the depth and breadth of programs has expanded; and budgets are up (and not stealing from other marketing channels). This is important as it validates the medium. In fact, 65% of those surveyed have their events portfolio funded directly as its own marketing initiative. The research showed that events are now the number one channel for product launches, and all successful launches have events as part of the mix. What’s more, 96% of consumers who have a great experience at an event will be more inclined to purchase.

What else had people buzzing at Event Marketing Summit this year? Here are five top of mind topics among event marketers.

Buzz word of the Summit! The good news, according to the Eventtrack research, is that 78% of brands are measuring event programs. Measured programs get funded faster, as they can prove out their ROI. The bad news is that no one truly has this figured out yet.

Not sure where to start? Just start – put a stake in the ground and begin measuring. Adjustments can be made as your measurement program expands, but you just have to dig in. Be strategic about collecting and analyzing big data. Keep in mind that it’s not just about impressions or social media engagement.

As evident by the attendee mix, the world is getting smaller. Event marketers journeyed from all over the world to attend, including from the UK, India, and South Africa. And as the world becomes smaller, event portfolios become more global in nature. Many brands are struggling with this expansion, unsure how to maintain their brand identity while navigating different regions and cultures.

The ideal is a “glocal” approach to an event portfolio: providing overarching messaging and structure to ensure consistency, while allowing flexibility for cultural and audience nuances. Download our Insights Paper to learn more about successful global event strategies.

Experience Design
More and more marketers are realizing the importance of experience design. This practice creates centralized experiences that enable people to follow a path and have a curated journey. As Luke Zaientz of so eloquently put it, “experience design really really really matters (really).” He challenged all event marketers to put themselves in the shoes of their attendee and think through to motions and emotions of each touch point.

Your overall event environment is actually a pretty powerful storytelling device. As Julia Mize of Anheuser Busch described it, the details are part of the storytelling – not in an overt way, but integrated and integral to the experience. This begs the question, what story are you telling through your experience design (or lack there of) and attendee journey (or lack there of)?

Social & Digital
Smart marketers are using social media not just for self-promotion, but to listen to their key audiences, engage with them, and adjust based on their wants and needs. In fact, some brands are reducing their number of social followers in order to increase engagement. This taps into a key movement – it’s no longer about the number of people reached but rather the quality – and this bleeds past social media.

In fact, this weeding out process is a very good move for brands as more and more people are tuning out online due to the influx of media begging for their attention. What’s a marketer to do to combat that? Create content that is more visually engaging (as led by Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, etc), create exclusive content online or provide a digital theater – allow online viewers to experience live events in real time. Turn your event into a 12-month content platform to grow and strengthen your community.

On the digital front, there’s lots of cool technology to engage with your audience on site. From wearable tech, to augmented reality, to social as a currency (tweet to earn a prize, etc.), there was no shortage of ideas to create a more engaging experience for digitally savvy attendees.

This was another major buzzword at EMS. What does it mean for a brand to be authentic? Well, as consumers are becoming increasingly shrewd, they are much more likely to see through jargon and gimmicks. They want what’s real and they do not want to be sold. What’s an event marketer to do? Julie Mize of Anheuiser Busch encouraged getting close to the brand identity. What do you stand for as a brand? What words would you use to describe your brand (ex: serious vs. playful)? As you examine all aspects of your program, put them through your brand identity filter: is it a just a hot trend, or is it authentic to the brand?

If you are really honing in on the audiences that matter to your brand, and giving them authentic experiences based on their wants and needs, the success of your event will be exponential.

In summary: When done right, the human connection is undeniable and unbreakable.

Photo: Event Marketer

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