In today’s experience economy, it is clear that moments matter. And in an age of increasing authenticity, where dialogue rather than monologue rules, a focus on brand engagement within business events is becoming much more important.
“Today, the ‘event’ is a strategic marketing initiative,” says Chris Beaumont, managing partner, North Asia at Results International, an advisor on M&A and fundraising to the global marketing and technology sectors.
“Historically, it was a point in time; opportunities now exist to anticipate (before the event takes place); to heighten connectivity (during an event); and to evolve to an ongoing brand dialogue (after the event), with appropriately designed social media messaging and channels. With such broader and deeper engagement, one will envisage more recurring revenue streams.”
He says the importance of brand engagement today parallels how traditional PR has evolved, where the discipline embraced social business, raised its profile among the c-level suite and focused on reputation management.
Beaumont also points to how PR firms are now more able to generate continuous revenue streams through their social media services. Perhaps there are also lessons to be learnt from management consultants, who seem recently to be getting more than their fair share of marketing transformation assignments.
While technology has been embraced by event and experiential marketing agencies with the aim of improving the event experience, Beaumont says an opportunity broadly remains for agencies and brands to develop new revenue streams that leverage a physical event and its branded content.
“Better bandwidth will facilitate live video streaming and monetisation to a broader audience beyond the event,” he says. “Going forward one can anticipate an increasing use of augmented reality to create augmented humanity [where wearable devices can pre-empt what people want]. One can assume that for Japan, for example, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be an opportunity to transform experiences across multiple dimensions, beyond the obvious sports engagement.”
Beaumont believes that embracing hyper connectivity is a starting point for agencies to create a brand dialogue and clear communications architecture to ensure the presence of what he calls ‘the three Cs’—context and content that are relevant at the point of contact.
The power of ‘live’
Technology and hyper connectivity can be used pre, during and post event to maximise the power of ‘live’. This is just one part of the evolving events industry, according to Oscar Cerezales, chief operating officer, Asia Pacific at MCI Group.
“Live is just another layer—it is not only embracing hyper connectivity but understanding that ‘live’ is only one of the many pillars in a CMO’s omni-channel strategy,” he says.
As the world becomes increasingly connected through digital channels, Darren Chuckry, managing director at Uniplan Hong Kong, says the live experience is even more important in building a connection between the brand and the user. Brands have to extend the way they have looked at and experienced events up until now.
“Live experiences become the content through which brands are able to build a relevant relationship with consumers,” he says. “We see this trend in retail, whereby stores are becoming the ‘experience centre’ that allow consumers to interact and engage with the product.”
For its part, Uniplan has developed a digital studio across offices to build new and engaging approaches for its clients.
“We are shifting our focus from being an experience presenter to an experience facilitator, by providing platforms for our audiences to curate their own experiences and share it within their circles,” explains Chuckry.
“We create bridges to reach online territories where our audience already is and we activate the relevant touchpoints across the customer journey in order to provide our audiences with integrated live experiences.
The power of live events is also being demonstrated through the growth in live streaming, spurred on by tools such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live, enabling planners to curate content in more accessible and inventive ways. But with this comes the challenge of creating a compelling live stream experience that won’t impact on face-to-face attendance.