How to capture consumers’ attention at your event

Posted On 1/7/2024

Whether you call it event marketing, experiential marketing, live marketing, participatory advertising, or any other moniker, this is a brave new world of blowing things up, building in a technological overlay to real-world places, and convincing otherwise sane passers-by to dance or change clothes in the street—all with the motive of engaging consumers.

We talked with some of the smartest minds in experiential marketing to find out how they pull off memorable events—and make sure there’s significant consumer engagement long after the event is over.

Here’s what they told us:

Create an event within an event

Try to create an event within an event where you can touch a consumer one-on-one, where you can engage directly, and teach them about your product, and do so by interacting in a quality way. Have a truth-or-dare themed campaign, ask people to dance in the middle of the street, etc. That’s not only fun for participants, but often become a huge hit online after the event. Make it mass media, where they can tell their friends to go there, or watch the video. Why does it work? People go to these things to experience new things, and you’re giving them that. They want to share it with their friends naturally when they see something cool.

Add another dimension

A lot of the technologies that are potentially transformative to events today are essentially invisible. People have gotten used to 3-D technology, projections, and augmented reality that to have them at events feels a lot more natural today. I’d say augmented reality is a great technology you can use in the live space for project demonstrations. A few of years ago it would have felt a lot more awkward, forced, and generally very Minority Report. QR codes are pretty invisible at this point, too, becoming much less awkward, more natural, and that lets them become sparks for natural interactivity. It’s the kind of thing that people would not consider of as traditional event, but it’s an experience in the public domain that usually gets a lot of attention, and one that has the potential to be very popular online just because it’s cool to watch.

Use ubiquitous social networking as a conduit for exclusivity

The giant gorilla in the room is how do you use Facebook through your event and on-site activity? The first thing that’s happening is that I’m seeing a lot of brands encouraging people to become fans right there on site. It used to be that you’d have to have a computer there and encourage people to sign directly on your machine. Now, you can offer a direct reward, a prize, a premium, for fanning the product right then and there on their smartphone or mobile device. It’s giving them some real immediate value. Immediate liking is becoming more popular. I’ve also seen a lot of exclusive access to existing fans. You promote the event you’re going to be at on Facebook—and you say, ‘hey, if you’re going to be there, here’s an exclusive thing for our fans,’ whether it’s parking, a free T-shirt, meeting a musician or DJ. You can pick up about a million new brand fans by a good strategy of creating exclusive Facebook content.

Don’t fear consumers’ brutal honesty

Events are not just a moment in time, they are content that can be used in lots of ways.

Mash-up your technology

You have to be in tune to what has been done before. It’s trying to mash up things that haven’t been mashed up before. Bringing a couple of technologies and mediums together that haven’t been brought together before is the key. Old media with new media, or new tech with more comfortable older tech. And with that, you build a fascination with a new way the world can work. It’s increasingly true that tech and creativity are becoming one in the same. I think they were a period of time where technology was a platform, and it was a group of people who solved problems for systems and machinery. There was a creative group, separately. They didn’t get together. Now there are minds that come from a technology background and have creativity. The great melding of those worlds is right now. Geek has been cool for a while, and is only getting cooler.

Work with Social Media

Create on-site experiences over Social Media. It could be an on-site scavenger hunt. It could be taking a photo—something fun and challenging, and if they bring it back they win a prize.

Make your event fun

Consumers are not students; As much as you want to promote your products and educate them about what’s new in your organisation, people want to enjoy their day out.