Event Marketing as a tool for building valuable, self-organizing communities
What you should consider to make your next event a complete success — a quick Event Marketing Guide
The key to happiness is not money, security, or even good health. It is quite simply to create and enjoy good relationships with the people you cross paths with during your life.
Pieter Hintjens, 2018.
Keeping that statement of Pieter Hintjens in mind, also in business context, an event can be an successful instrument creating or strengthening the relationship with your stakeholders — and by that creating happiness. No matter by which actor, for which target group and with which goal an event is organized — it is always an adequate instrument to establish personal and direct contacts among the visitors of the event in an informal and pleasant atmosphere. The participants of an event should be interactively integrated into the event to give them the feeling of being part of something special or even unique.
Credibility through emotion
An event offers a good opportunity to address the participants emotionally. Thinius and Untiedt describe an immense importance in the orientation of an event to the message of a brand as well as to conveying meaning and value. The credibility of a brand must never be disregarded. The prosumer would notice this and rate it negatively. They rather describe the role of prosumers in the context of events as follows:
“The prosumers and no longer the consumers are developing ever more differentiated expectations of a brand. It’s about individualizing needs. The results are products with a high degree of maturity in their life cycle. Functional, objective and superior product performance criteria are no longer enough. There is hardly anything more individual than an event to bring psychological needs to women or men.”
The following guide is intended to give you an overview of which aspects you should consider for the successful implementation of an event:
1. Determine your event marketing object
The selection of the event marketing object is the determination of the central communication object of an event. This is equivalent to the procedure in advertising planning. Possible event marketing objects can therefore be individual products, product groups, a company in its entirety or for example ancillary services a company is offering.
2. Set your event goals
In event marketing, the primary focus is on psychological communication goals aimed at creating emotional experiences and demand-oriented brand services. It can be differentiated between internal and external cognitively-oriented as well as internal and external affectively-oriented communication goals. Cognitively oriented communication goals should direct the consciousness of a recipient to a product and/or sharpen his detailed knowledge of a product. The affectively oriented communication goals intend to change the attitude or conviction of the recipient towards the product in the direction of the target positioning and/or to ensure the emotional experience of the brand.
External cognitive-orientated event targets could be for instance:
1. Identification of new products
2. Providing key information on a specific topic
3. Active involvement of the participants with this topic
4. Maintaining contacts with selected customers, opinion leaders and media representatives
The affectively-oriented external communication goals could, for example, be composed as follows:
1. Maintenance and modification of the company or brand image
2. Integration of a brand and its contents into the recipient’s world of experience
3. Building and maintaining a relationship between the company and participants/partners on the basis of a collaborative experience
4. Strengthening sympathy and credibility
3. Develop an event strategy
To create a sustainable event concept based not necessarily solely on monetary reward systems, you should try to generate added value for all relevant stakeholders and respond to their respective needs. To this end, the target groups and the event format should primarily be adapted.
Is it a conference, a trade fair or an innovation summit?
Is the target group internal or external, specialists or the general public?
In addition, you should make decisions on other relevant aspects:
Which location is suitable for your event, and why? Which specific location is suitable for the purpose of the event?
Taking into account the medium- and long-term objective of possibly expanding the target group of the event, a certain “scalability” of the premises must be taken into account when selecting the location, so that no change of location is necessary when expanding the scope of the event.
4. Determine your target group
The definition and selection of a suitable target group is indispensable for the success of an event. Start-Ups & Young Companies, Universities, Partners & Customers, Private Individuals or B2B Partners?
The base groups are divided into three areas:
Primary target group
The members of the primary target group can be described as active participants in the event. This target group can be conveyed direct, emotional messages by means of interactive communication.
Secondary target group
The members of the secondary target group are not directly to be described as active participants in the event. Although this target group is on site, it should rather be seen as an important multiplier of the events message. This target group includes, for example, press representatives or celebrities. They serve as a mouthpiece for the tertiary target group to be reached.
Tertiary target group
The tertiary target group, for example, represents competing companies. This target group does not participate in the event itself. She only learns about this event through media coverage or mouth-to-mouth advertising.
5. Plan your event budget
The budget is also a decisive component for the successful organisation of an event. Make an extensive cost calculation in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises after the event.
What are the costs for you? — These costs include personnel costs, material costs and all other costs incurred by the organisers themselves.
How high are third-party costs? — These costs include all costs incurred through external product purchases and services.
What are the fixed costs? — These costs are independent of the final size of the event (rent or technical costs)
What are the possible variable costs? — These costs depend on the final size of the event or the number of participants. This includes costs for catering, hotel rooms or personnel.
6. Be aware of your risk factors
Carry out a risk analysis in advance to identify which internal and external risk factors could cause potential problems in the realization of your event. The risk factors of an event are very individual, but can, for example, represent too few participants (internal), bad weather conditions (external) or technical difficulties (internal).
Try to minimize these risk factors in advance by designing concrete measures or formulating guidelines for their occurrence.
7. Plan your pre-event communication measures
Early and target-group-oriented communication in the run-up to the event is important in order to control the success of the event. Therefore, you should think about the following in advance:
● What do we want to communicate?
● When do we want to communicate?
● How do we want to communicate?
● Who do we want to communicate to?
● What makes our communication successful?
8. And also a must have: After-event communication
However, the work is not finished when the event location is completed. Afterwards it is necessary to deepen the contacts made, to use the euphoria, to develop the (hopefully) positive attitude of the participants towards you as organizer, to thank your guest for their participation and to ask for their feedback.
And always remember: Avoid standstill and try to make the next event even more successful!
I hope there were some good and useful advices for you by implementing your next event. Following this guide may help you organizing an successful and great event that will be positively kept in mind. Always remember: Events, where people get the chance to interact directly with a company or a brand, where your stakeholders can be part of something special and where you can present your purpose in a emotional and also personal style will help you build up and strengthen your community. The impact of an event as marketing tool is increasing enormously — especially since in our digital world personal contact, a strong relationship, individualization and a good interaction with your stakeholders become more important than ever.
As I started with a quote of Pieter Hintjens, I want also to ad another comment of Hintjens as conclusion. Hintjens visions the concept of online communities as an „Artifical Living System, which imitate … living systems“, which consists of a „… large numbers of independently owned components“ to „work together, competing and collaborating, in a free market for services, labor, resources, and knowledge.“
Christian Homburg (2015): Marketingmanagement: Strategie – Instrumente – Umsetzung – Unternehmensführung.
Gerd Nufer (2012): Event-Marketing und -Management: Grundlagen –Planung – Wirkung – Weiterentwicklung.
Heribert Meffert; Christoph Burmann; Manfred Kirchgeorg (2015): Marketing – Grundlagen marktorientierter Unternehmensführung.
Jan Jochen Thinius; Jan Untiedt (2013): Events – Erlebnismarketing für alle Sinne: Mit neuronaler Markenkommunikation Lebensstile inszenieren.
Pieter Hintjens (2016): Social Architecture. Building On-line Communities.
Vok Dams; Colja M. Dams (2008): Code Rouge: Gesetze des Erfolgs für Events und Live-Marketing.