5 Event Categories for Experiential Marketing

5 Event Categories for Experiential Marketing

Posted by: Alycia Rovner on July 28, 2016
The first, and often most important, step in devising an experiential marketing plan is deciding where to find your target audience. You've spent time and money gathering meaningful customer data such as age, gender, income level, and occupation. You know exactly who your potential customers are, but where do you go to find them? Here are 5 event categories to consider when planning an experiential marketing program:
 
1. Trade Shows
Ah, the 96 billion dollar industry! Trade shows are specifically organized for industry-related companies to showcase and demonstrate their products and services. From toys and technology to coal mining and fashion, there's a trade show for just about every type of business. They also provide the perfect opportunities for brands looking to target other companies, also known as business to business (b2b) marketing. Trade shows are often the first step brands take when launching an experiential marketing campaign because they're the "low hanging fruit" of events. After all, it makes complete sense to exhibit at an event that your buyers attend. For example, if a company has created an innovative, groundbreaking barware accessory that will transform the cocktail industry, I should exhibit at the Nightclub and Bar Show. It attracts thousands of buyers and decision-makers within the bar industry. Ding ding ding! Determine under what industry your brand falls and attend its largest trade show.
 
2. Conferences
Conferences are defined as formal meetings for discussion. Most of us have probably attended one as part of a company or organizational outing. But conferences bring more to the table than your standard board room meeting. They often incorporate guest speakers, breakout sessions, networking events, and even happy hours. All of these "mini" events help attendees develop personal or professional skills, meet potential business partners or clients, and simply learn more about their industry. Many conferences include an exhibit hall as part of their event offerings. Similar to trade shows, the halls showcase industry-related companies that want to promote their products and services. The difference is that conference attendees can browse exhibit aisles on their own time vs. attending for the sole purpose of making purchases. This often makes for a more relaxed environment. Attendees don't feel pressured to make deals, but instead spend time learning about brands. Align your company with an industry-related conference that draws professionals who have similar interests as your brand's offerings. 
 
3. Outdoor Festivals
People have celebrated festivals around the world for centuries. They bring friends, families, and communities together to enjoy good times and create memorable experiences. Summer festival season is an exciting time of year for experiential marketers. Consumers break out of winter hibernation longing for entertaining outdoor activities. Most major cities host festivals each weekend between May and August, and those living in warmer states can experience them year-round. And let's not forget that no well-established festival goes without vendors and corporate sponsors. From food trucks and local businesses to some of the world's biggest brands, experiential marketing goes hand-in-hand with outdoor festivals. It's the ultimate business to consumer (b2c) face-to-face marketing platform. To determine which type of festival is a good fit for your brand, take a close look at the event's attendee demographics. Align with those that attract similar stats as your target customers. Make sure to consider the festival theme and incorporate it into your experiential activation. For example, it makes sense for a beverage company to sponsor a food and wine festival, but an insurance company might stick out like a sore thumb. That's not to say the insurance company shouldn't exhibit if the festival's demographics are the right fit. But it should add a food or drink-related element to its activation in order to attract festival-goers to its booth. The goal of experiential marketing is to organically draw consumers to your activation in order to start a conversation. So take your customer data and match it with a festival in the city of your choice. There's bound to be a match... or several!
 
4. Concerts
Live shows and concerts are great venues for brands to engage with consumers. Amphitheaters are flooded with sponsors who have strategically chosen to attend concerts that draw attendees who share similar profiles as the brand's demographics. These days, music sponsors aren't just buying your standard stage and bathroom banners. They want to interact with concert-goers and create an experience that resonates with them long after the concert has ended. Most major concert venues draw anywhere from 2,000 - 100,000 concert goers, creating a powerful platform for brands to engage with a large volume of consumers in a short period of time. You could even consider conducting sales or sampling if it makes sense for your marketing strategy. When was the last time you attended a concert and were in a bad mood? Never! Concert goers are happy, willing to engage, and might even make a purchase. From Beyonce to Def Leppard, there's definitely a concert for each audience segment on your list.
 
5. Sporting Events
The popularity of professional sports has provided marketers with an impressive platform for sponsorships. Big brands are essentially synonymous with sports. Consumers have watched as groundbreaking commercials, celebrity endorsements, and prominent branding campaigns have centered the world of sports entertainment for decades. Enter any sports stadium or arena and you'll come across several big brands activating outside the venue or along its concourse. Many teams have even created and branded "Fan Zones" as a way for brands to organically reach fans, and also create pre-game entertainment for fans who enter the zones. These sponsors incorporate sports-related games, contests, and promotions to grab fans' attention. It's not a cheap avenue, but the results of sponsoring and activating at a major sports venue can pay off.
 
Planning an experiential marketing campaign is a lot of work. All of its puzzle pieces need to come together in order to call your activation a "success". Eliminate the worry of being in the wrong place by putting your market research stats to good use. Align yourself with the right event segment or consider testing several. Of the millions of events that are produced each year, your options are literally endless!
 

On The Avenue Marketing creates face-to-face experiential programs that deliver real results. Need assistance with your next event marketing campaign? Contact us today for a free consultation. We'd love to hear from you!
 

Alycia is a marketing strategist who has been connecting people to products through events for more than a decade. As Vice President, Marketing of OTA, she draws on her experience to create customized event marketing programs for her clients. She's developed a deep understanding of how to create authentic, engaging promotions that organically attract consumers to brands. In her free time, this Boston native enjoys creating craft cocktails, soaking up the summer sun, and obsessing over her 4 lb. Chihuahua, Taco.