Various themes emerged throughout the event’s conference programme, and the important role that brand experiences play in advancing the marketing sector was evident throughout—they facilitate new forms of engagement, and allow brands to emotively connect with audiences.
Same Foundations, New Tricks
The customer has always been central to the marketing discipline—with its foundations around understanding who they are, their likes and dislikes, and what they think about our company or brand. As marketers we focus on creating really valuable resources that educate, entertain and engage, and they are all focused around communicating a particular message that reflects the company’s commercial goals. The key distinction today is that there are now so many different—and more powerful touch points from which to learn about and connect with our audiences.
Live events have long provided a way to effectively engage with customers but brand experience as a category is now much higher on marketers’ agenda—brands are embracing the medium with more focus, as it allows them to engage with their audiences face-to-face rather than through a screen or from afar. And these physical interactions with brands provide a far more meaningful and memorable experience for attendees, as they actively engage with brands on a whole new level.
A Multi-Layered Approach to Personalisation
Personalisation and an in-depth understanding of a brand’s target audience/s go hand in hand, and they are integral to any modern marketing plan—it’s those individually tailored communications that cut through the crowded marketing space and grab peoples’ attention. What’s more important than ever now, is being able to communicate with customers in a personal way across multiple platforms. The basis of digital personalisation, for example, is not digital. We need to understand peoples’ offline behaviours before we can market to them online.
Marketers can learn so much more about their audiences when they engage with them in the physical space. In these settings, they can witness first-hand how attendees behave, respond to certain elements of an experience and interact with one another, and this information can be used to inform activity in the digital and other spaces. Marketing channels no longer exist in isolation, the key to personalisation is in omnichannel campaigns that engage audiences across multiple platforms.
Choosing Heart Over Head
It’s not just about analysing reams and reams of data to understand our audiences anymore—behaviours and emotions—or emotional analytics are incredibly important today. In many instances we humans make decisions with our hearts, not our heads, so as marketers it’s important to deliver communications and experiences that appeal to these emotions, rather than focusing in on converting transactions.
Live events tap into this ‘heart over head’ instinct. By creating immersive brand storyworlds in real, physical spaces, attendees have the chance to emotively connect with a brand. And while that brand’s products might not be physically on sale at the event, the emotional connection that is made can transform visitors into brand advocates, which means they will not only purchase a brand’s product once or twice, they’ll stick with it in the long-term.
We only have to look at figures like the Bellwether report to see that events are growing in focus and commanding a larger chunk of marketer’s budgets quarter after quarter. In a crowded marketplace characterised by consumers whose attention spans are only getting shorter, events allow marketers to catch their eye and keep them enthralled through compelling physical experiences that transform audiences into advocates.