How to Take the "Marketing" out of Experiential Event Marketing

August 20, 2019

Did you know that holding an object too close to your face doesn’t help you to see it? Of course you did. Your eyes can’t focus on an object when it’s too close. If you’re over 40 and read the paper, this may be hitting close to home. Or, if you’ve ever had anyone invade your personal space...think about what you do. You pull back immediately. It’s a gut-level reaction. The head and shoulders respond instinctively in retreat.

It’s one thing when a child puts something in your face - grace is given. Little kids are learning boundaries. It’s a whole different ballgame when an adult takes an unwarranted step into that space. Adults should know better. The adults that own businesses should know better. Even more so, the marketing departments should know better. So, why is the “in your face” marketing tactic still happening?

Consumers can’t see the message when it’s bombarding their senses. If the point is for attendees to walk away knowing your purpose, then give them space to do so. More is less. And more of the “in your face” marketing means less data captured. Instead of walking away with a lead, the consumer exits with a less than pleasant brand experience.

Experts will tell you to form a relationship before trying to get consumers’ proverbial goods. Quid pro quo happens here. In many cases, gamification works here. You want the data; consumers want to enjoy their experience at your event. Give your attendees a little motivation in order to get a little information. Do the marketing without reminding them that you are, in fact, marketing your brand. Take the marketing out of experiential event marketing.

Brands must tread lightly, but wisely. If brand ambassadors are carrying clipboards, feverishly looking for the next victim (which is how they’re perceived by many consumers), those consumers will seek to avoid contact. On the other hand, if brands use tactics similar to Toyota which has turned its popular Corolla model into a Photo Booth at brand activations across the country, then consumers may very well come to you. Toyota has had great success driving foot traffic their way AND generating leads. Turning a car into a photo booth on wheels has helped the brand foster new relationships. Their consumers were motivated. Or consider how Olympus engaged tennis fans with a custom video engagement as part of their sponsorship activation during the U.S. Open a few years ago (registration required to view case study video).

Too much too fast doesn’t work. In real life, we connect best when others are given the space to see us clearly. So, before busting out the dreaded clipboards, make a connection and begin a relationship with a real person. A person who, if you’ve done your homework, you might know a little about. “Engagement” marketing.

Knowing your audience means figuring out what will motivate them to engage at your experiential event. Connecting with them before reminding them they are your consumer means a relationship can be established. If the groundwork is laid for relationship, then an emotional tie can lead to trusting your brand with a bit of personal information. And now you have something you can really drink in – data with a side of trust.

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