In the not-too-distant past brand managers and marketing directors evaluated the success of live events based primarily on the metrics available: number of attendees and press impressions. With the explosion of social media, digital analytic and the need for brands to develop and deploy engaging content on an ongoing basis, live experiences can and do play a much more critical role in the marketing mix.
Today, a live event or experience should be conceived through the lens of a larger strategic platform, taking into account a number of critical factors that should be working in concert for maximum efficiency and ROI. Rather than view the value of a live experience solely on attendance and press impressions, design your strategy to maximize all of the following outputs:
Compelling content: Live experiences create engaging brand content that can be captured via photos and video and deployed a number of ways - through owned social channels, websites and paid and earned media. This can expand the reach of a great experience delivered to influencers in one market to the rest of the country, even globally.
Extension of traditional advertising: A new ad campaign can be launched or extended by creating experiences in key markets that engage your consumers and bring it to life. In some cases the experience itself becomes the ad campaign, such as with Bud Light's Whatever, USA campaign.
Press & influencer engagement: With shrinking newsrooms, the proliferation of bloggers and fragmented media consumption, brands have to work harder than ever to get attention. Whether for a product launch, new partnership or other milestone, bringing a brand to life in an engaging way gives press and influencers a more immersive and intimate experience with your message, not to mention something far more interesting than a press release to build a story around.
Drive advocacy and reward loyalty: There has been much recent coverage of MasterCard CMO Raj Rajamannar and his evolution of the brand's iconic Priceless campaign to highlight delivering amazing experiences to their cardholders, which is rooted in data and insights they uncovered on the hunger consumers have for experience. Focusing on the experiential vs. transactional aspects of your brand elevates it to a new level, fueling an emotional connection and engendering loyalty. And while not every brand can put Justin Timberlake on the road, there are plenty of ways to connect with your loyalists through experience that are both intimate and scaleable.
Ignite social sharing and word-of-mouth: If you want people to talk about your brand you need to give them something to talk about. And new products or ad campaigns are not enough. Photos and video drive the majority of engagement on social media and in this era of the selfie the images people are most excited to share are those in which they are front and center. A rich experience will have your audience pulling out their smart phones to show their friends and followers what an amazing time they are having, authentically spreading the excitement far beyond the four walls of any event.