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.
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 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.
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.