Experiential marketing is a very corporate, flashy, even sexy way, to say what those of us in the business of doing meetings and events already know: that live events are powerful and different than traditional marketing avenues because of their capacity to make you experience - or feel - something.
Feel what? Feel different. Feel enlightened. Feel moved. Feel empowered. Feel compelled. You name it. The power of mass communication harnessed in a live event that tells a brand story is unparalleled.
And feeling is emotion.
In a post-recession events industry, the defense of meetings and events throughout business and philanthropic spheres is real, gritty and ugly at times. Events have a bad rap. They’re expensive. They’re fluffy. They’re the first thing to cut if the budget gets tight. They’re just “parties” or discretionary spending gone wild at retreats and conferences.
To be clear, sometimes they are. Poorly managed events can be all of those bad things and then some. Show me a person who turns their nose up at the power of events and you’ve found a person who has been burned by a budget-busting, poorly executed “party.”
It’s easy, when you’ve been doing something for a while, to get lost in the “what” and the “how” of your business. Events are no different. You produce and manage events and you do it well: your messaging and content is succinct and on-point; your timelines are comprehensive and detailed; your vendors are partners bringing 110% to the table; your room looks branded and nothing is too small to be connected to it; and your speakers or entertainment are well-rehearsed and equipped to provide the audience with exactly what your Client wants.
But the “why” is the part we forget to shout from the rooftops. Why events? Why our brand of events?
The answer: events bring people together and positively and effectively impact them in an emotional way that few other mediums do.
Our parent company is a theater, so we like to say “good events are like good theatre. They have a clear beginning, middle and end.” They have a “story-arc.” Why does that matter? Because a good event is like good art – it hits home as much in your brain as it does in the center of your chest…And when it’s really good, you can’t even pinpoint why. You just feel it.
The brand may be different from event-to-event. The objective may be different. The format may be different. At the first meeting with our clients though, the question is always the same: “how do you want people to feel when they walk out?”
Events can immerse and inspire a room with internal vision for a company’s future; can move an audience previously unfamiliar with a Nonprofit to donate more money than they walked in the room intending to spend; can create an experience that makes customers feel closer to a brand and compel them to favor one product over another.
The common denominator is feeling – emotion.
When you say the word “emotion” to certain professionals, often you get an immediate visceral reaction to how that emotion will be translated – and it’s not always positive. Let us submit this truth: emotion is the critical piece that makes the difference. It is and should be the driving force behind all the decisions we make related to our events. Because if you don’t feel different walking out of a meeting or event than you did before – and generally I’d add it should be a positive feeling – then somebody hasn’t done their job well.
Don’t be afraid of emotion. Instead, realize it’s what drives humans at our core and separates us as thoughtful, compassionate sentient beings from the rest of creation. Use events to harness that reality and achieve your objectives – whatever they may be! And make sure you have the right people helping you do it. That’s important too.