By: Freelance Writer MKT, Singapore
Published: Mar 26, 2007
What has this got to do with event marketing? If you recall credit card road shows or any marquee tented event along Orchard Road blaring out unintelligible music, then I think you the consumer and marketer will understand that cookie cutter formulaic events have little place in modern event marketing. In fact probably damaging consumer sentiment to your brand unless you are truly selling something new.
“You have to be sure that what you call an event is worthy of the name. An event should be something special, something memorable and that is not often the case in Singapore. A road show is not an event,” Stephen Cranston, marketing activist and founder of Renegade Asia says.
Where’s the Lustre?
When’s the last time you attended a good consumer or B2B event? Or rather what’s the last event you attended and thought that was “pretty damn cool” – there we go, already coining a new acronym, PDC. I am in Singapore after all, its November / December and the silly season for events is just beginning to ramp up. Double, triple booked I hear you agree. Spoilt for choice, what chance to set a standard in event marketing in a crowded place?
For many brands, event marketing is only part of the mix, but there is a sense of increased emphasis. How do events fit into a slowly converging world of marketing communications? All other advertising mediums are flat or 2D in comparison to what an event can do for the target audiences’ senses. Events are tangible, interactive and engaging to the audience, where results and feedback can be instantaneous. The power of word of mouth is proportional to the experience of an event. Is this measurement on any marketers’ list?
“We look at most marketing tactics for their word-of-mouth value and events score highly. When people talk about word-of-mouth or buzz they too often prioritise online activities when in fact most word-of-mouth still takes place face to face. Events give you the critical mass to get the buzz going and an event by its very nature defines it audience. That is a head start for any good marketing agency,” Cranston says.
“To truly outreach to consumers, we are also placing emphasis on the importance of other channels of communication such as word of mouth marketing. Consumers are increasingly placing more trust in the opinion of their peers,” Irene Ng, GM, strategic marketing, electronics business division, Samsung Asia says.
While there is convergence in media there is a diversification in the ability to drive brand awareness. Repucom Asia, an independent brand media and sponsorship evaluation company agrees with the idea that the days of “set and forget” media framework are over. The more creative marketers are taking control by diversifying and integrating new and more traditional initiatives.
“New media such as branded content television, online and mobile marketing are definitely growing their share of the pie but they are not effective on their own without face-to-face activation at the consumer level. This is where events complete the loop,” Danny Townsend, Repucom Asia says.
Event marketing is a vital communication tool for consumers to better understand Samsung’s corporate philosophy and values and must continue to complement a holistic approach of brand building, loyalty marketing, public relations, and retail and point of sales.
Any one-dimensional marketing campaign will have limited success and the truly successful campaigns of recent times have been able to engage the consumer at many different levels and in different ways. The term experiential marketing comes to mind in trying to define this kind of activity. (see box out)
Aspects of technology are used to enhance many events and create instantaneous reactions as opposed to post event reactions.
For example event photography: not only do we have 10 mega-pixel cameras but companies, like Live Studios create proprietary software enabling instantaneous (less than 10 seconds) shots to be featured on OHP or plasma screens via WI-FI link. Not only can you have (a branded) digital printed photo handed to you within the minute, it also fits in your wallet for keeps.
What’s real cool is the ability to live your immediate past in the present moment.
“We have taken event photography to a brand new level, where the instantaneous experience is becoming almost becoming a standard requirement for any event,” David Ng, director, Live Studios says.
On the corporate side, a brand like Mercedes-Benz will organise ‘Technology Symposiums’, where they invite a selected target group — also media — and present innovations, research topics and future technologies of DaimlerChrysler. They also present research vehicles such as our fuel-cell vehicles.
Pico Art, global exhibition and event specialists, thrive on technology to enhance target experience. As well as the IMF convention they recently created the IDA Anniversary showcase event where technology is not on display but in use. Seamless projection to multi-screens is now available; no pregnant pauses to upset key note speakers. Another example is being able to run a live global competition in real time across time zones over 24 hours.
“Today, technology has enabled one degree of separation of networking internationally, innovations and development,” Derek van Dugteren, creative director PICO Art International says.
What was once an advanced form of event or exhibition technology in one market is quickly replicated and implemented internationally and regionally. This gives rise to consistent brand flavour and messaging.
The clutter of too much information brought about by the speed of technology and digital evolution means that events can conversely fill a gap in helping decipher and distil the brand message across target audience.
Digital technology has empowered consumers to make more informed choices and event marketing complements by providing experiences, not just merely information.
“Live communications can provide that extra something which digital technology cannot – face-to-face interaction, personal warmth and so on. Events have also evolved with the times and we do harness digital technology too for a more complete and enhanced experience,” Hugh Yii, director, Festival Square Circle says. The local company was the sole agency to have handled all the social events in the IMG-World Bank Annual Meetings.
Events provide a unique and direct marketing opportunity not offered by other alternate marketing initiatives but like the above on its own has limited impact. Critically it is the integration of a multi-functional campaign involving an event component that delivers results. The key is finding the correct balan
ce and most suited mix for your given product or service.
All parties in the event marketing mix agree there is no “one-size fits all” event evaluation platform as it is critical to understand the objective and desire of each independent brand activity in order to gauge is performance and overall return on investment.
Adidas’ marketing manager James Tan says, “It is through events that we continuously add value to the consumers’ experience of our brand attitude.”
The events pie in some instances may be dwindling but a result of more sensible and strategic planning of spend on events. With other companies it is thriving as these previously more conservative companies look to find a competitive edge in the marketing space. Event marketing is as broad as it is long, and is the most 360 of all communication mediums. Clearly defined in three areas of communication: corporate, brand and product level.
This is especially true for a brand like DaimlerChrysler. Each activity serves the purpose to reach out to a defined target group with specific messages. The relevance of event marketing is increasing in the part of attaining corporate goals.
“All other communication tools such as web-based media communication, classic advertising and so forth are part of a marketing mix, which in our case is more related to brand and product communication,” Helfried Scharff, head, external affairs and communications, DaimlerChrysler, says.
Samsung, a key spender in terms of sponsorship and events, clearly enjoys maximising the link with personal communications.
Given a diverse and yet personal product like a mobile phone, connecting across a broad medium makes sense for it in reaching distinct target audiences. For example its involvement in many world-class competitions such as the Olympic Games, the Asian Games and World Cyber Games is very disparate in terms of target audiences, yet all reliant on mobile users.
More importantly the trend is also to create large scale new events as a local platform to reach consumers. In Singapore, Samsung created unique events such as the Samsung Inline Skating Challenge 2005.
“Consumer trend insights, leading innovative products and design, all contribute to a platform to execute strategic brand building of which event marketing has an increasing role to play,” Samsung’s Ng says.
For DaimlerChrysler, events also play an important role to reach its audience, which are the general public, potential clients and exiting clients, but also media, business partners and society groups.
Its brand Mercedes-Benz holds events, which are necessary tools to convey the message of passion, luxury, and quality and to bring its products closer to loyal and potential customers.
Whilst you can look at new products in websites, advertisements, and billboards and get a first impression, you always it needs the personal touch, feeling the quality, material, design – that’s the most convincing way.
On the product brand side, for example Mercedes-Benz has high-class social events such as the Mercedes-Ball, an established charity event in Singapore. Another example is the Mercedes-Benz fashion week.
Growth & Spend
For many brand owners such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Gillette and Visa, sports sponsorship has been pivotal in their marketing communication campaigns and provided these very different brand owners with a global brand communication platform.
If the recent $3 million US Barclays Singapore Open golf tournament is a benchmark, then there is real growth in events. The Singapore Open is one of many tournaments in the Asian Tour that make up the Tour’s US$25 million (S$39 million) current annual prize money — a figure reached in less than five years.
According to the latest Business Week / Interbrand Annual Rankings, Samsung’s brand value surged 186% to US$14.95 billion (S$23.3 billion) in the past five years, posting the biggest gain among the top 100 global brands and currently ranking 20th on the list. Why? Well Samsung freely admits and believes its continuous support in events plays a big role in this rise.
“The number and scale of events that we sponsor and organise in a year requires a considerable amount of investment, but this is relative as we believe relevant events are a great platform to outreach and engage our customers,” Ng says.
PICO Art international has also experienced real growth in the past year.
General manager for business development Trevor Soh says, “The growth in our business segment of exhibitions and related services is near 10% and segment for conference and show management is more than 300%. The growth clearly indicates that marketers are still investing in event marketing.”
Naturally a healthy economy is always a factor, but 300% in one year points to significant shift in marketing spend to events.
In terms of return on investment, it depends on the objective of the event. If it is a premium, high involvement product the emphasis is more likely to be on direct sales and leads generated through direct contact. If it is an FMCG then product and brand association are key to the value of the property. In this scenario the number of contact points related to the event becomes critical.
Soft-factors such as reinforcing the brand image, positive brand perception and increased interest for brand and products helps filter through in measurement of foot fall for retailers.
Techmex Staging Connections’s general manager, creative services Scott Wilson believes outlining an organisation’s event plan is ROI in itself. By doing so a business can expect to drive greater cost efficiencies and clearer communication, one of which satisfies management and the other the customers. On that note the notion of ROI is less important than the notion of ROO — return on objectives.
“We find that ROI is somewhat an outdated term with the more progressive senior leadership we deal with more often focused on ROO,” Wilson says.
This takes away the focus on financial cautiousness which quite often marketers do at the expense of delivering a creative experience, which drives customer satisfaction.
ROI criteria falls under three main areas of evaluation. Firstly, measure whether or not the key goals and benchmarks set out from the start are achieved, such as whether we were able to successfully deliver the unique selling proposition of a product.
Secondly, carry out active measurement to track the amount of buzz or hype generated from the event, such as the number of consumer emails and calls post-event, or the number of unique visitors to a web site.
Thirdly, report results, which are directly related to or will directly affect business, such as the number of database entries generated, or the estimation of sales based on purchase intent information (applicable mainly to special promotions or road shows as not all events are conducted with sales objectives in mind).
Beyond these tangible methods of evaluation, the event must also promote the values and corporate philosophies. For example Samsung sponsors several sports events because the spirit of sports is in sync with its corpor
ate philosophy to contribute to humanity.
Event marketing needs to be brand connected and placed on the same importance level as all other advertising and communications mediums. Not one size fits all and not stretching credibility.
Events should boost awareness and customer loyalty, making your target audience part of the extended family and rewarding them with rich experiences.
Experiential marketing is the way forward and use technology and driving innovation are constants that should be maximised.
“A miracle is an event which creates faith. That is the purpose and nature of miracles. Frauds deceive. An event which creates faith does not deceive: therefore it is not a fraud, but a miracle,” George Bernard Shaw, playwright, essayist and 1925 Nobel Prize winner, says.
Whilst events are not miracles, the ability to create faith in your brand is priceless.
LET’S TALK EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING
Suddenly, ‘experiential marketing’ is the fashion – the new 360-degree phrase. Ad agencies and marketing departments are preaching to each other ‘experiential’ and starting departments dedicated to the practice. Marketing managers have created a new line in their budget allocations – ‘experiential’ items.
There’s no doubt it’s the marketing jargon of the moment, we’re all talking about it and we’re all excited about it. Really though, nobody can seem to be able to clearly define it?
When you dig deeper and ask managers “What is experiential marketing?” they usually define it by combining several marketing tactics together. However just because you put on a road show tour, create some sampling opportunities in five or six SE Asian cities which have ‘special’ invite only events, or even dare to use ‘guerrilla’ marketing efforts does not equate to an experiential marketing effort
Four things need to happen to create and execute a true event brand experience:
1. The target audience remembers the experience and talks about it after the end of the event.
2. The target audience understands your brand’s place in their lives, the penny drops and word of mouth (WOM) marketing starts sharing the experience and helping friends understand.
3. Your credibility remains in touch with the target audience in a most relevant manner.
4. Repeat business or effort to re-engage the target audience is simpler.
And four questions that need answering:
1.How can I bring the brand to life?
Match experience with current Credibility. Relevant experience that actually reinforces what the brand values to target
2. When and where should I place the brand experience into my consumer’s world?
There’s nothing worse than seeing a great program being executed in the wrong spot and at the wrong time.
3. What are those things about my brand that consumers will really talk about?
No one is going to blurt out your mission statement in real life. Figure out what they will really say.
4. Who are those key influencers inside my target and how can I identify them and connect with them so they drive buzz among the masses?
For example, one of Samsung’s key sustaining strategies for their Ultra Edition mobile phones is to leverage word of mouth communications through the ‘Experience an Ultra Life’ programme, through which 80 applicants were shortlisted to carry the Ultra Edition 6.9 and 12.9 for a period of time and write about their experiences on an Ultra Life Blogg website (http://www.ultrablog.com.sg). To date, it has had over 20,000 unique visitors.
Defining elements of anticipation, exclusivity, and discovery should be imparted into the experience? These are key drivers of PDC factor.
How should I borrow relevant equity?
Borrowing equity isn’t always about ‘sponsoring” something. For example, just being at the right target-relevant spot allows you to borrow some ‘established equity’ from that location.
adidas organised adidas +Challenge football competition 06 at an unexpected location in the heart of the city — the field between Park Mall and the Atrium (near Dhoby Ghaut MRT).
The responses were naturally overwhelming. The wining team of the 2006 +Challenge were send to Berlin to pit their skills against the rest of the world. Cool factor 10.
To add an experiential layer to marketing programs, companies must insert a brand into a target’s life where they can touch it, feel it, taste it, play it, hear it, use it.
A marketing programme needs to build connectors to a corporate message with the real world and or allow consumers to experience a brand in a ‘real life’ way thus understand the brand’s place in their lives.
Marketing process in which a target connects with a brand and adds it to a list of brands they use and talk about.
CALL IN THE EXPERTS
Engaging an expert inserts a layer of legitimacy to the brand experience.
When society magazine Gethat helped high end-jeweller Loang & Noi to launch its new collection, they invited Diana Francis, the talented Singapore-based professional artist to display her fine work of painted art and create a fusion of window display to complement Loang & Noi’s new line of jewellery – art in itself. The credibility of attaching an expert and incorporating third-party experts as part – or the focus – of branded events can offer a unique experience for customers. It’s not an endorsement, where “hi and please buy” celebrity tactics are employed, but more a fusion of unique shared values. In this case jewellery as art, and art as inspiring jewellery design.
When done correctly, the brand will be remembered for the experience. In some cases, brands are hiring people with expertise in rather obscure subject matter. Finding and hiring those true experts can take a little more creativity.
For example: as part of the launch for the film Madagascar last year, the opening weekend saw a display of four 3D animals (1:3 scale size) crafted entirely by Origami. The giraffe, hippo, zebra and lion were all each made for one giant sheet of paper. It would have easy for standees or furry imitations; none would have come close to the impact, appealing to adult fascination of an ancient art and still capturing children’s imagination. How many origami masters are there in Singapore?
Three quick tips for bringing experts into live events:
1. Where to Look?
In many cases, finding an expert can be as easy as checking the phone book or online directories.
2. Tap Your Resources.
Other brands have lined up experts by leveraging relationships with companies that sponsor their event initiatives.
3. The Deal.
The type of contract you’ll have with experts depends largely on their status and their level of participation in the events. An unknown local expert’s contract might function like a staff or vendor contract.
Meeting of Objectives
– Communicating key messages
– Creating memorable and enjoyable experience
– Attracting and reaching the correct target audience
– Achieving target number of participants
– Collecting right database
Funds, Sales and Business Leads
– Achieving target for fund raising charity projects like the Duck Race
– Achieving sales targets for ticketed shows
– Securing sponsors and promo partners
– Generating new business leads from events
Publicity and Media Coverage
– Value of media coverage and editorial