New Rules for Event Marketing
As most marketers experienced firsthand, the Great Recession walloped all types of promotional special events — from stunts to product launches to grand openings. Other similarly scarce activities included parties, employee retreats and corporate meetings.
Budget cuts and an overall slowdown in consumer marketing were all to blame for the near demise of such events. Protecting corporate reputations also was a factor: any event that appeared excessive or even worse — at risk of garnering negative news coverage — was taboo.
While we still live in tempestuous times, businesses to be spending again on event marketing and entertainment. According to HYPERLINK “http://archive.indystar.com/assets/pdf/BG192278719.PDF” an economic impact report by Rockport Analytics,
expenditures during the 2012 Super Bowl week reached $384 million, much of it spent on
hotel rooms, dining and entertainment and private transportation (and much on the corporate tab.)
While events may be firing up again, implementing them at an appropriate level presents a new challenge. How much can you accomplish while trying to be competitive but not look extravagant – even when you have an ample budget?
In this post-recession economy, the following rules can help guide you. Here are insights provided by entertainment industry veteran, Bob Glickman, founder and president of Orlando, Florida-based Glickman Productions.
Rule 1: Be strategic. Now, more than ever, every event needs a clear rationale. Identify business objectives and determine if the event is a good fit with other marketing activities. Establish measurement metrics in advance, so you can evaluate ROI and justify expenditures.
Rule 2: Scrutinize every cost. Be vigilant and look for every possible way to accomplish the same results for less. For example, Glickman saved a client thousands of dollars by reviewing their quote from a technical vendor and finding redundancies in the estimate. The vendor was charging for equipment that was already present at the venue, and labor was covered by another budget.
Rule 3: Sharpen your negotiating skills. The recession removed the stigma of bargaining. Everyone is looking for more sales and most organizations are willing to negotiate. How to go about it? In plain terms, express your interest in the vendor’s goods or services, while being candid about budget constraints. An open dialogue from the get-go can open the doors to a mutually beneficial agreement.
Rule 4: Consider hiring an event expert — but do your homework. Event professionals can save you time and money. But beware of so-called “experts” with a lot of flash and little substance or genuine experience. Vet your short list of potential partners and check their references. Also keep in mind that some event companies receive commissions based on their recommendations (think invitations, florists, photographers), which can pose a conflict of interest when you need honest advice to save money.
Rule 5: Go lavish, go HUGE! (if appropriate). Seems counterintuitive, based on Glickman’s previous rules, but certain brands require over-the-top events to properly convey their messages. Sometimes a low-key event just won’t cut it. For example, Glickman produced the groundbreaking celebration for the Orlando Magic’s new arena, revealing the future shape of the building – four-square blocks in size – with massive pyrotechnics synchronized to the launch of enormous tethered balloons. Sometimes, you’ve just got to flaunt it!
What’s ahead for event marketing? In this digital age, when social networking is unifying the masses, it’s tempting to write off face-to-face events. True, virtual events like presentations can be far more efficient. But when’s the last time you shouted “WOW!” at a live-streamed launch? Or held your breath at a big reveal shown on your hand-held device? And you simply can’t taste a delectable signature beverage no matter how great it looks on a high-def TV. The reality is that all of this online activity is creating a pent-up demand for personal connections in a live setting. There’s nothing quite as powerful as a 360-degree, fully-immersive, senses-intensifying live experience.