Events industry

The importance of partnerships in event marketing

Event marketing is a constantly evolving ecosystem and no one knows this better than event planners and the design agencies they work with. In such a competitive market, either on-stand at a tradeshow or wrapped up in a conference, brands are striving to stand out with their event marketing in order to make a mark on the minds of their customers.

The battle to be different has just one common denominator: the importance of working with reliable cross-channel partners. From audio visual suppliers, through to digital agencies, caterers, staffing and the event venues and organisers themselves, the partners a brand chooses can often have a huge impact on success.

 

The pressures

With events becoming an omni-channel experience, catering to event attendees across digital, offline and face-to-face as well as through multi-devices and channels can be difficult. Event marketing has grown and evolved inline with other marketing practices and in an ‘always on’ world, event planners are under more pressure than ever to deliver. Events need to have an integrated online and offline experience, often taking into consideration platforms such as social media, email and blogging. Attendees also expect to be able to access event content through video, imagery, podcasts, written posts or whichever channel suits their personal preference. Learning each discipline in enough detail to be able to execute it successfully in the lead up to an event as well as within a live environment is a job for more than one person. But finding the right suppliers and ensuring that they can work together when the lines between digital and social media, design and content are so thin, can be an arduous task.

 

Integrated budgets

Integrated budgets is one of the approaches that event planners, and the wider industry, are now using in order to smooth the workload and make cross-channel partners work together more seamlessly. Event marketing now encompasses more than just email or registration software. Instead, it is a living, breathing organism which needs to retain fluidity so that it can adapt to insights and data that help it to evolve in line with its visitor’s needs. Having a single budget for content, another for communication and yet another for staffing can cause problems. Finding a content partner who can produce video, which then needs to be shared by a social media partner and broadcasted by an audio visual supplier, creates budget crossover in every area. Defining an ‘event marketing’ budget which can then be broken down into tens, or even hundreds, of supplier areas is often the way to ensure that the pragmatics don’t hold back success.

 

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

As well as sharing budgets across disciplines, collaboration is essential to the success of cross-channel partnerships. With brands and event planners often employing more than one event supplier within the same area to contribute towards their event, smooth relationships and open communication is key to success. This is aided by a trend within events, where many suppliers are now becoming experts in one area rather than master of all. This doesn’t mean that they cannot branch out, after all an audio visual supplier will always be able to offer iPads and laptops alongside their more advanced visual screens and videowalls, but it does mean that some suppliers will highlight their expertise in a single area, over everything else. This type of approach will allow for more successful relationships between agencies, brands and suppliers as well as clearer expectations on the roles and responsibilities of each supplier contributing to overall event success.

 

Multi-event partnerships

As many agencies and brands will know, tendering to work on a brand’s event marketing can be longwinded and time consuming for all those involved. More importantly, by the time the tendering process is complete and an agency selected, the brand may have pivoted or changed direction completely, therefore rendering plans redundant. To avoid this, some brands are now working towards a multi-event partnership, where the same suppliers and agencies are employed for a rolling contract. The benefit of this is that the event marketing legacy lives on far beyond the event itself. Agencies and suppliers incentivised by a single year contract will often be working to fulfill that event’s aims and to make it the best possible experience. Those who are contracted to work on the event campaign for two, or even five, years are in a better position to look at the long-term strategy of a brand’s event marketing and ensure that every event is a cog in a long term plan for success.

 

The events world has always been an exciting place to be, but in the foreseeable future, event marketing is about to become even more poignant. Events which are more complex and more integrated require advanced skillsets and multiple suppliers, all willing to work towards a single goal. As long as suppliers and agencies can adapt accordingly and future-proof both skillsets and a flexible approach to multi-partner working, the impact on the event industry as a whole will be unparalleled.

An event marketer’s guide to Virtual Reality

The events world is exploring the virtual and as a result, mixed reality technology has become a highly requested tool both within events and the wider world, to bring a virtual experience into a physical space. So what do you need to know about virtual reality in order to successfully embrace it at your next event?

What is ‘virtual reality’?

Virtual reality is the manifestation of a computer-generated simulation by specialist electronic equipment. For example, a visitor at a travel event may adopt a headset on a stand, in order to take them to a hotel room in Dubai to have a look around. Alternatively, they might put on a headset, or pair of googles and take a ‘train ride’ through a City. The difference between this and older methods of visualisation is that with VR, the visitor is fully immersed in an environment through the sense of sight. Remember those visual stimulator rides where you would get in to a big black box and watch a screen as if you were on a speedboat? While they were effective up to a point, virtual reality takes this to another level, where the only scene you can see is the one being portrayed to you, with no other visual to detract from the illusion.

The history of VR

The term ‘virtual reality’ first began to spike interest around the 1990s, when there were books and films that depicted signs of VR, as well as virtual reality games in arcades and shopping centers. Shoot forward to the early 2010s, when Oculus Rift began their Kickstarter campaign and it was clear that this was a technology that wasn’t going to go away. Further proved by Mark Zuckerburg’s announcement of a $2bn investment in Oculus Rift, which putvirtual reality firmly on the list for emerging technologies that others, such as Samsung and Apple, must soon explore.

Virtual reality and events

VR is certainly a big buzzword in events, but one that is yet to reach full potential. The difficultly in the past has been creating content that is able to show-off the technology in the best possible way. The VR experience needs to be high quality, or risk being rendered useless. The entire concept revolves around making a person feel that they are in a specific environment and more importantly, for the brain to register the scene as a reality. If there is a time-lag when you turn your head, or a stuck scene, the reality is broken. This means that without enough budget to create a properly tried, tested and well-designed piece of software, you might as well not bother. In live event environments especially, nothing is forgiven. Saying that, it is now much more affordable to create a VR experience – with most bespoke pieces of content creation starting at around £4K or £5K and moving upwards depending on length, complexity and resolution.

Modern headsets are becoming more sophisticated than original versions, with many able to react to human movement at lightening speed, adapting the view accordingly. The screens themselves also offer a high-quality image that could be mistaken for a real-life scene

When choosing which form of technology to employ it’s important to think about it’s use within your event environment – rather than a testing one. For example, VR devices such as the Samsung Gear are powered by a phone which in an event environment may be difficult to keep charged.

Lastly, virtual reality should always be considered in light of your wider strategy and brand aims. Technology for technologies sake will not enhance your visitor’s experience, but a well-thought out piece of technology that creates a memorable experience will. Focus on the brief and message and employ the technology to facilitate that. And if VR is the right vehicle, then well your visitors are in for a treat.

How brands are using dynamic content to connect with their audience

Dynamic content goes against every aspect that an exhibition stand once represented. Whereas exhibition stands were once static spaces where visitors were drawn in and given a single piece of content or concept to engage with, dynamic content now ensures that exhibition stands are personalised hubs, where every experience can be different.

This is key in an environment where visitors are often shouted at, rather than engaged and where a personalised piece of content can often cut through the noise of stands that contain blanket marketing messaging.

This caters fully to a millennial audience who studies have shown overwhelmingly believe that businesses both need a reset, as well as a re-focus on people, rather than profit. Dynamic content allows brands to put themselves on the same level as visitors during an event, exhibition or conference with a carefully crafted message or presentation that shows that they are listening.

Four examples of dynamic content being used by brands on an event floor

Traditional content needs testing and preloading, to ensure it can be shown across a screen videowall or LED during a live event environment but with the rise of certain high-level media servers content can now be updated and adapted in realtime. In an environment such as an award ceremony this creates huge scope for what is broadcast around the world, or even within the event itself. On an exhibition stand, it allows for content that can be much more fluid and adapted depending on events occurring on the showfloor, the time of day or even the weather conditions outside.

burberry

  1. Dynamic broadcast platforms

Smart Digital, the broadcast arm of IPG, creates digital media solutions for events and exhibitions. The Smart Digital Event TV platform allows organisers and exhibitors to broadcast key messaging, videos and showreels across the showfloor, YouTube channels and surrounding hotels, billboards and outdoor screens. In this type of environment, static pre-recorded content is often obsolete. Visitors who have often paid to attend an exhibition want to see content that is relevant to their experience while there. Dynamic Event TV broadcasts ensure that the messaging they see across a network of screens relates directly to the hall they are in, the day of the show and any news and updates that have been released in that moment.

Live dynamic broadcasts also allow exhibitors to have their key messages heard and provide them with a platform for releasing show news and products – something which exhibitions are renowned for. Furthermore, dynamic content allows those not attending to get a taste of what the show is really like – as it happens.

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  1. Personalised presentations

Using a high-quality LED or seamless videowall display screen undoubtedly attracts eyeballs during a show. But once those eyes are looking over, a second step is needed to capture and retain attention. This is where personalised presentations, led by dynamic content processors, are a great way to keep visitors on the stand and interested for longer periods of time. Dynamic content changes can often be managed by the stand staff themselves; using iPads, tablets or other handheld-devices in order to flip content and make it more relevant to the audience who are there in that moment.

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  1. Unique interactive experiences

Sometimes it is the smallest details which can cause the biggest ripple. For example, an interactive kiosk which welcomes a visitor by name, to a show. Or perhaps a uniquely branded coffee cup which when placed on a table, creates a display of content which has been created specifically for that visitor, based on their interests and previous purchasing history. Interactive event technology facilitates an experience which is personal and more rewarding for the visitor. Rather than bombarding them with every piece of company information, it allows the visitor to choose their own experience and to craft it out of the content they are interested in. According to studies, leads that are nurtured with personalised content produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities.

reception

Exhibitions are no longer static spaces and environments must be built which put the interest of the visitor at the forefront. Personalised, dynamic content which changes visitor-to-visitor, by interest, age or any other demographic you can imagine, will help you to create a longer-lasting more meaningful connection with your audience. For help using event technology to create dynamic content at your event, speak to our audio visual specialist Smart AV at info@smart-av.com