Event Branding on a Budget
Getting the Most Bang for Your Marketing Buck
When a tiny action entertainment television channel in Belgium wanted people to notice their good programming, they sent out stunt performers on bicycles to quiet villages in the countryside. They had them go around Main Street, unexpectedly perform great stunts, mention the channel, and disappear. To village residents who never saw anything happen that was out of the ordinary, the event, the channel and its stunts were great conversation fodder for a long time.
When Disney had a new kids’ TV show called Doc McStuffins in Britain, they set up teddy bear clinics all over the country, and invited little kids to come in to diagnose a big fat teddy bear that was supposed to be sick. While there, kids played with Disney merchandise as well, and had a ball.
Both these campaigns are examples of event branding or experiential marketing at work. If you only have access to a tiny marketing budget as owner of a small business, event branding can be an excellent way to obtain bang for your marketing buck. Should you need quick funding, you can attain money via loans for the capital to invest in this marketing campaign.
You need to put in considerable preparation, however, and go about the campaign in a creative way. Big businesses do spend millions on their event branding campaigns, after all (in 2011, Sony dropped thousands of balloons over a quiet San Francisco street to mark the launch of the new Bravia line). You need intelligent ideas and solid follow-through to compete.
Address your audience
In both the examples above — a children’s show and a zany entertainment channel — the organizers took pains to directly address the forms of approach that their audiences were likely to respond to. It’s important to put thought into addressing the people that you are targeting. If your company sells budget clothing for working women, an event where invitees get to listen to interesting tips by a noted fashion designer would be appropriate. For an audience of marketers, a search engine marketing refresher could be of interest.
Reach your audience
The more effectively you let your audience know about what you have planned, the greater the turnout and the better the return on your investment will be. From Facebook posts to live tweets, there’s a great deal of work to do to get the word out.
Niche social marketing sites are especially relevant. If yours is a B2B campaign, you could try Alignable, which is popular among business owners sharing resources and advice. If you’d like to target lawyers, Avvo would work, and targeting pet owners should work well on Catster and Dogster. Artists congregate at Deviant Art, and doctors like Doximity (it has 60% of American doctors).
At the actual event, a well-designed graphic that demonstrates every point on the map that attendees come from can help everyone see how the event has helped them connect. It can be a powerful image.
Create the environment
While major brands may go all out designing lavish custom environments to help push their events through to success, small businesses and startups usually aren’t able to afford such luxuries. What they do have, however, is access to impressive rental event branding environments. Companies such as Steel Head Productions (http://steelheadproductions.com/custom-rental-exhibits.html), for example, helps small business event branding campaigns with a series of pop-up environments that mimic everything from comfy living rooms to movie theaters. It takes an investment in quality environment to make a campaign successful.
Feed your audience
It can be hard for any audience to overlook the attraction of a good, free meal; people tend to remember who feeds them. A quality presentation followed by a great meal can help burn the memory of your event deep into the collective consciousness. Even better, a spread can be cost-effective.
Reward your audience in other ways
From favors to clothing with the company logo on it, your audience needs to have stuff to take back and remember your event by. It’s important to make sure that all promotional products are top-notch in quality, and of a kind likely to be used for period of time. Apart from clothing, beauty products, kitchen utensils and stationery are all good ideas.
Nothing can trip up an experiential marketing event like poor planning or lack of professional arrangements. From the idea itself to the experience that attendees have through the event, every step needs to be planned to perfection. It isn’t something that those without event planning experience could ever handle. It’s always important to go with professional expertise. The investment is likely to be modest, and yet, the pay-off is likely to be encouraging.