By: Glaelis Sierra – Account Director at Williams Whittle
In-person events are a great way to connect with your different target audiences. They can be stressful to plan, but very rewarding if you consider the right approach. There are a few things to consider when planning to attend an in-person event:
- Make sure you research the event and its audience – this is very important to understand since it will determine the appropriate giveaways, the language used on your materials and even the right brand ambassadors (i.e. do they need to be bilingual?).
- Choose the right entry level to connect with your audience – this will help you determine what type of display you’ll need. For example, our client the Mattress Recycling Council is a nonprofit that manages the Bye Bye Mattress program in states that have enacted mattress recycling laws, so attending an Earth Day event is more relevant than attending any other event that’s not environment-related.
- Tease your audience – make sure you send out reminder emails to your audiences and even post teasers online. You can post teasers on your social media channels and on your website as well. Countdowns are a great way to remind your audience daily on social media.
- Leave a footprint – make sure you leave behind something meaningful and relevant. In our blog Green Giveaways, we provide some eco-friendly ideas.
- Grab as much data as you can from attendants – what better way to connect with your audience than in-person? This is the perfect time to get to know them better. Ask them as many questions as you can and, if possible, fill out a quick survey for them. Our client, the Mattress Recycling Council, has tablets at each event to fill out anonymous surveys. This allows them to collect demographic data as well as awareness information that help shape our future campaigns.
After doing your research and securing your participation, the next step would be the most exciting one – attending the event. When attending in-person events, you’ll have to ensure that your brand stands out. This means – don’t use the generic white 10×10 tent sold at the local warehouse store. Below is an example of how our client’s Mattress Recycling Council’s tent stands out in a crowd of white tents.
Your tent should have your colors, showcase your logo, website, social media handles and any other relevant information that would help people connect with your brand. We also make sure our brand ambassadors are even marketing the brand with their outfits by designing t-shirts that include the logo and an important statistic about the program which is that up to 80% of a mattress can be recycled.
Now that you have this great tent – what happens inside? That really depends on what your goals are for the event. Do you want to increase email signups? Do you want to increase social media followers? Do you want to educate them about a specific topic? Our client’s booth included a maze to connect with younger audiences. The goal of the maze was to help an old mattress get to the collection site. This was a fun and interactive way for kids to learn about mattress recycling in California.
Another way to keep kids (and adults) engaged while learning about mattress recycling was a building blocks game that included facts about mattress recycling. So, as people were pulling blocks, they were reading different facts.
The booth also includes a sample of the different components of a mattress that can be recycled. They are used to show booth attendants what the inside of a mattress looks like and how these components are recycled into new products.
As you can see, using a booth that stands out in a sea of white tents can make someone interested enough to walk your way. Once that first part is done, you’ll have to make sure they are engaged with elements inside your booth. Having fully prepped brand ambassadors is also key to success. Give them copy points of what they can and cannot say. FAQs are also helpful.
Another important aspect is having multicultural brand ambassadors, as needed. If you know attendants will be mostly Spanish speaking, you should have brand ambassadors that speak the language, as well as leave-behind materials. We would like to give a special thanks to Event Marketing Strategies, our partner in handling event management and running the booth.
Other events that our client has taken part of, include an illegal dumping symposium in California. The audience that attended this event included government officials and the goal was to ask them to supply illegal dumping data from their counties. The setup did not include their tent, as it was a smaller footprint. However, we provided materials for an experience that was just as impactful and engaging for the audience that attended this event. The setup was superhero-themed because ‘data is your superpower’. Booth managers encouraged participants to take pictures with our mattress cutout and funny quotes, then upload them to their social media channels.
For the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington, we developed materials for their annual concert. In 2018, IFC celebrated their 40th anniversary and they needed materials to help tell their story at the concert. Based on the new campaign concept that we developed for them, WW developed a video, campaign posters to be featured on easels, a step and repeat backdrop for photos, a design for the concert program cover, ads to promote events internally, and an associated digital and social outreach campaign to promote the event. See samples below.
Q1 of 2020 has made us rethink large gatherings, events and overall advertising strategies. In the past few months, there has been a dramatic increase in virtual events due to COVID-19 and some platforms have been struggling to catch up with demand. This article from Marketing Land explains how companies are being waitlisted by digital platforms, such as Hopin, to host a digital event.
By going digital/virtual with your event, you can still connect with large audiences. Here’s a list of platforms that allow you to host virtual events:
- On24 – There’s no maximum of attendees. They have hosted virtual events with up to 8,000 attendees.
- INXPO – Their product is scalable to 200,000+ visitors.
- GoToWebinar – Will allow you to host up to 1,000 participants.
- Zoom – Can host up to 100 participants or up to 1,000 if you have the large meeting add-on.
- Virtual Event Center – You can host pre-recorded or live events with this platform and they can send any production materials you may need for your event. This platform will allow you to host up to 150 attendants, but can be scalable to more depending on client needs.
- GoToMeeting – This platform only supports up to 26 people.
Something to keep in mind when hosting a virtual event is your background. For this reason, we’ve created virtual backgrounds for our agency and our clients. See some samples for the backgrounds we’ve developed for the Mattress Recycling Council, Virginia Hospital Center and Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington.
Events can be a great complement to a larger marketing plan, whether you host an in-person or virtual event. They can help target areas that are harder to reach via mass media. They can help your brand connect with multicultural consumers. And, overall, it’s a great way to connect with your target audience personally (or virtually).
We’d love to help your brand connect with your target audience in a meaningful way. Contact us today for ideas that generate change.