Real-Talk: Affirmations From the 2019 Experiential Marketing Summit

ITA Group
ITA Group

Group of event attendees listening to a keynote

Several ITA Group team members attended the 2019 Experiential Marketing Summit in Las Vegas. This annual gathering is always filled with excitement and energy. With several of these summits already under our belt, our team was particularly interested in the following reminders from this year's event:

ROI Measurement Is Really Hard but Increasingly Important

CEOs, CMOs, CROs, etc., are all demanding more from experiential marketers in terms of proving ROI of events and related experiential marketing activities. This is raising the level of focus on ensuring attention to detail across the spectrum of attracting the right audience, creating the most financially aligned activation experience and syncing with post event activities to drive realized revenue. Along those phases of the experiential marketing campaign, more line-of-sight is being required between activity and realized revenue and profit.

Be Bold or Risk Being Forgotten

A top quote from EMS: “If the idea isn’t big enough to possibly get you fired, it isn’t big enough.” Also “Take the risks you’ve hesitated about…what you want has to be greater than what you fear.” The marketplace is flooded with great new products and services being promoted in highly engaging ways. Experiential marketing needs to create memories—not just experiences.

Omnichannel Is the Future

According to the CMO Council Research presented, 96% of C-Suite leaders agree that all major marketing initiatives need to be omnichannel in nature.

If you’re not leveraging all available audience touchpoints you’re going to lose.

GDPR Is Just the Beginning of Higher Privacy Standards

CCPA in California is going to require experiential marketers to adhere to as high or even higher privacy standards as GDPR in Europe. Other states such as Massachusetts and Washington are quickly following suit. Understanding how motivation, and the art and science behind it, works in getting experiential event attendees to opt-in to provide the data (be it activities, perceptions, or other) that can align with ROI/ROO measurement will become an increasingly completive advantage for some agencies and brands, and a barrier to entry for many others.

A Customer Centric Perspective Is the Key to B2B Event Success

Each attendee at B2B events needs to be viewed from a customer lens. Successful experiential marketing looks a lot like a successful omnichannel consumer journey strategy: the right message, to the right person, at the right time, every time… and always (always!) personalized. Higher levels of personalized engagement can only be achieved by embracing and understanding the wants, needs, interests and aspirations of the individual attendee.

Agencies Need to Intimately Understand Client Strategy to Be Effective Partners

Bringing bold and creative ideas to the client is not enough to win and sustain effective experiential marketing partnerships.

Agencies must clearly align creative ideas with the client’s product/service go-to-market strategy on a very granular level.

That requires not only understanding the product/service mix, but also the competitive landscape, the channel structure, customer’s buyer journey, and the other strategic elements that can be woven into creative communications and activations. Spend time with clients and prospects to better understand their opportunities and challenges before providing a solution. This direction is creating trust, customization and delivering what the consumer needs.

Finding and Magnifying “Wow Moments” Is Key

Always consider how your experience can be shareable to extend the message universe. “Wow Moments” are those opportunities to create a highly impactful emotional connection between the brand and the customer (consumer or business buyer). Literally eliciting a “wow” from the targeted customer is the pinnacle of success. This could be an interaction with the product/service, an amazing emotional connection to the quality of service, or a shared common social cause impact (e.g., environmental sustainability) between the brand and the customer.

“Wow Moments” can align with any and all aspects of the buyer’s journey—from awareness to brand advocacy.

Authenticity Is Paramount in Your Experiential Strategies

Did you know, 80% of consumers won’t interact with a brand unable to customize their event experience? That means a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when planning your event. The experience you create for your audience is part of your brand’s life. When done successfully, event attendees are able to engage in a personal and meaningful way with your brand.

Big Data Is Not as Important as Great Data

In this era of heightened focus on privacy and data security, the goal should not be to gather as much data as possible and then figure out what’s important. The effective experiential marketer will be very intentional and proactive determining what data about the attendee is most important for driving targeted engagement objectives.

Amplification Is Mission Critical

Ensuring the right strategy, social influencers, technology alignment, behavioral nudges and measurement are core to successfully supporting event amplification. Amplification is not for amateurs; specialized experience and expertise are needed to be successful.

Effective amplification strategies and execution can often be the ultimate driver of quantifiable ROI.

Experiences are the new content for effective event engagement and amplifying experiences via the social grid is key to success for experiential marketers.


The industry is still growing and expanding. We've got a whole generation of people who are more interested in experiences coming up and coming through life. The next step is figuring out how to prove the success of your experiential event.

Explore ways to measure event ROI with our newest white paper: Prove Your Event ROI With These 8 Overlooked Metrics.

Prove Your Event ROI With These 8 Overlooked Metrics White Paper