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Experiential Marketing: Engagement Tips for Organisers and Exhibitors

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This is a guest post by Peter Symonds, Event Marketing Expert at Display Wizard, providing professional exhibition stands, banners and pop up displays to businesses across the UK – helping you stand out at your next event.

In 2015, 77% of B2B marketers are harnessing the power of experiential marketing to maximise brand engagement.

Why? Because it works! In another study, from the respected Content Marketing Institute, 74% of UK marketers ranked in-person events as the single most effective content marketing tactic they used, ahead of social media, blogging and webinars (to name a few).

This fluid, flexible and forward-thinking marketing tactic is evolving at an incredible pace – bringing together the old-school benefits of face-to-face interaction with today’s most cutting-edge technology to create a powerful and effective tool for any brand marketer.

When it comes to event marketing, jumping on the professional bandwagon isn’t enough. Sector leaders didn’t make their name by running to catch up with the competition, but rather by innovating their industry and making the decision to zig whenever their competitors zag.

Whether you’re attending major trade shows or organising an event yourself, the principles of expert experiential marketing are the same: engagement is everything – and securing the reaction you want means taking an all-guns-blazing approach.

Driving engagement in a world so busy with competing marketing messages is tricky to say the least – but a creative and disruptive approach to your experiential marketing efforts will guarantee your brand is heard amongst the competitive noise.

Today we’re handing over the experiential marketing manual – complete with some tricks for organisers and exhibitors alike to try at home.

Eye Candy

Organisers: Any event that hasn’t been effectively advertised is doomed to failure – and the truth is that quality design must always come first.

On the countdown to the event itself, professional event branding offers the chance to maximise awareness and, ultimately, attendance by building excitement and anticipation for what awaits your attendees on the day.

Keeping a tight hold of your event’s core idea throughout, create and implement a cohesive event campaign that reflects the driving purpose of the event and does the concept justice in an aesthetic sense.

Note: For event more expert advice on creating a memorable event experience every time, check out this free guide from Eventbrite and Moo.

Exhibitors: First impressions count and, by ensuring your event or exhibition space is both bespoke and professional, you can guarantee that your brand stands out among the very best and is projected in a way that’s likely to make an enduring impact.

It might be tempting to keep event marketing budgets to a minimum, but investing in premium quality materials is non-negotiable if you’re looking for a worthwhile ROI and to impart a professional veneer to your potential customers.

Whether it’s bold, bespoke exhibition stands or branded event staff uniforms, every element of your visual presence should be designed to reflect both the quality of your offering and the aesthetic power of your brand.

Give exhibitors and attendees alike no option but to experience your brand. Using cohesively branded displays that echo your company’s unique values and offerings, eliminate every shred of excess and bring nothing with you that isn’t either expertly branded eye candy or irresistible lead-bait.

Sensory Elements

Organisers: While it’s up to the exhibitors to populate your event with an array of unique offerings and brand personalities, the holistic design of the event itself plays a major part in its success.

Consider the flow of your attendees for example. Make sure you place your most exciting exhibitors in the epicentre or at the back of the hall, to draw people through; but you also need to balance this out with impactful, exciting features to greet visitors when they first walk in (remember, first impressions count!)

Supplementing your overall event branding with dynamic multimedia displays also brings the experience to life, adding a new dimension to the event space and allowing you to cement any key concepts that have inspired the event in the minds of both exhibitors and attendees.

Exhibitors: Experiential marketing provides the perfect opportunity to immerse your audience in your brand. Unlike one dimensional marketing tactics such as print and radio, event marketing provides the opportunity to engage all of the senses at once – turning your business into a living, breathing brand rather than a talking poster.

By considering the ways that engagement extends beyond sight in the standard, passive sense, you can create a portable branded space where customers can really understand what you stand for.

Consider what they will see, hear, smell, touch and taste and whether they reinforce your brand image. Are you a high energy brand that should have coffee available, or geared more towards wellness with fruit available, or maybe entertainment where people can grab a chilled beer for example?

Should you be giving away mints and pens? Do they really add to your brand experience? Or should you be encouraging more active participation, unique product giveaways, a comfortable place to chat or something else that builds the wow factor into your stand?

Whether you’re offering attendees and exhibitors a hands-on product demonstration or simply entering into authentic dialogues with the people you meet, a multidimensional brand experience beats a shallow marketing message any day.

Bringing your brand to life requires you to create a multi-faceted environment that’s not just a wall of superficial slogans, but a multimedia space that begs questions, sparks imagination and drives activity.

Proactive Promo

Organisers: If you’re putting together a targeted trade show or sector-specific conference, the key is to make sure you’re attracting the right attendees. The success of any event is drastically limited by inviting an irrelevant audience – and there are ways to ensure your guest list is guaranteed to engage.

Eventbrite provide an excellent ‘one page event plan’ to help ensure your strategy is aligned with your target audience.

Targeted social media promo both significantly and immediately prior to the event gives you a chance to market your event to the people it was created for.

Launching a relevant and timely hashtag maximises the success of any pre-event Twitter campaign, and any press you can get on relevant sites or in associated publications is a definite win.

Exhibitors: Unlike traditional marketing channels which often rely on tired ‘push’ strategies, experiential marketing provides the opportunity to take your brand to the customer’s doorstep rather than waiting patiently for them to come to you.

Too many exhibitors often forget this though, and populate their stand with unmotivated or junior staff who just sit there, sullenly staring at their phones. When the event doesn’t deliver an ROI, there shouldn’t be much surprise!

Make sure your best people – those who really represent the energy and dynamism of your brand – are staffing your stand and proactively generating interest from passers by.

Whether it’s an industry trade show you’re sure will be filled with members of your demographic, or whether you’re organising an impromptu pop-up event on a busy high street, a healthy sense of impatience will serve you well in the event marketing sphere.

These tactics give you the chance to target specific demographics – firstly, by digging deep with your market research, and secondly by putting ‘presence’ at the forefront of your marketing campaign.

Take a leaf out of the guerrilla marketing handbook and explore the potential of pop-up events. Release your brand into the wild. Organise and implement an event that grabs attention, increases exposure and, ultimately, drives sales.

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