In today’s disruptive business climate, leaders have to go above and beyond the competition to capture the attention of their customers.
Whether you’re launching a new product or service, or entering a new market, a brand awareness campaign that distributes your message to your target audiences is one surefire way to start getting the attention you need to acquire and retain customers, and ultimately, create powerful brand advocacy. Once you’ve developed a brand awareness campaign strategy, kick it off in a way that will get your message heard and make waves at the same time.
Brand marketing takes place via a host of vehicles such as social media advertising, digital retargeting and content marketing, but face-to-face strategic events allow your audience to experience your brand in a way those other tactics can’t provide. Hosting an event gives potential customers the opportunity to experience the look, feel and personality of your brand.
Here are some tactics to consider that will bring your strategic events—and in turn, your brand—to life.
Event Location and Timing
The location and time of year of an event can have a measurable impact on the overall experience for your attendees. When you theme your event and align your venue with that theme, it elicits emotion from attendees and ensures your message resonates.
For example, if you’re launching a new automobile model, host the event in the mountains or on the coastline, so attendees can get a sense of adventure while testing out the cars on exciting terrain. Or, if you’re having a conference in California wine country, pick a date when vineyard grapes are almost ready for harvest, so attendees can experience a grape stomp and view the scenery during the peak season.
Proximity is also important. Consider hosting your event at a site where your attendees are already located. Or, if your audiences span multiple geographical locations, host a cross-country or cross-region road show so you can hit each segment of your audience with a personalized event experience.
Related: Check out these top conference venues every event planner should know about.
When you host an event as part of your brand awareness campaign, the goal is for your attendees to be immersed in your brand—day in and day out. With a mixed-media approach featuring big, bold signage and interactive design elements, you ensure that you establish your brand in a memorable way.
Right off the bat, create seamless event branding that will carry through to every messaging element you incorporate. This uniform look and feel will help your audience recognize you throughout your communications.
Design intriguing event spaces to transform them into something more than just rooms. Make a large space more intimate by adding pop-up walls to separate different break-out sessions, or set up a wide range of unique activity stations throughout the space so attendees can take part in what interests them most.
Event Catering and Beverages
Everything about your event has to connect your message with your attendees—your food and beverage offering included. Event catering makes a big impact on your attendees. The same-old banquet-style chicken and run-of-the mill hors d’oeuvres won’t leave a great impression on you, your message or your event as a whole.
Younger generations are inspiring event wellness trends, and with that comes a desire for whole, organic and locally-sourced foods that contribute not just to a healthy lifestyle, but the overall event experience. We’re not suggesting a salad bar at every conference. If your event is on the coast in the Northwest, feature an oyster bar. At the beach? Rather than providing an array of sugary desserts, set up a smoothie stand or a juice bar for guests to enjoy. Bonus: When your attendees aren’t stuffed full or on a sugar high, they are less likely to experience a crash in the afternoon, meaning they’ll consume more of your event message with better focus.
Experiential Event Elements
Consumers today increasingly seek experiences over things. Thus, experiential events are becoming a major component of any brand awareness strategy.
A brand experience should be memorable and shareworthy. Get creative. Think pop-up shops, performance artists, and virtual reality booths. Any event that gives attendees the opportunity to touch, feel and experience the brand gives you the opportunity to make an emotional and meaningful impact with your audience. Jack Links built a jerky-themed obstacle course to celebrate National Jerky Day. Make it something your attendees want to share by Instagramming photos they took or telling all their coworkers when they return home. Doing so will amplify your message tenfold and reach beyond the attendees of the event itself.
Your experiential event should prove you matter. When you’re planning an event to unify your team, rally around a common goal or get excited about a new product or service, you have to go big. And by big, we mean sticking out from the crowd and showing your brand story with a mix of interactive elements—rather than just telling it.
Don’t count out the “things” completely. Yes, people crave experiences, but they appreciate free stuff, too. But we’re not just talking free pens or t-shirts here. Don’t pick standard giveaways. Instead, choose items that further support your theme and your brand. Giveaways must be meaningful. Think of what you would want to place on your desk or post a photo of on social media. That’s creating brand awareness.
For example, for a wellness or fitness-themed event, give away free yoga mats, jump ropes or fitness headbands that your attendees will actually use once the event is over. Or, take it one step further and require attendees to complete an obstacle course or fill out a health assessment to earn a chance at winning a fitness tracker or bike. The higher value the giveaway, the more effort attendees should go to to earn it. In turn, you reap the benefits of gathering more customer data to pull from for future marketing efforts.
Making Your Event Strategic
Increasing brand awareness is the first step in developing brand advocacy. In doing so, you create customers who will stick with you. Strategic events let you get personal and actually show your audience the value you bring.
Ready to get started planning your next event? Find out how you can drive results with a solid event strategy in our ebook, 7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic.