So-you have an event, now what?

Honolulu is an amazing event city. Every night, there is a fundraiser, networking or just plain fun event. For those of us that are “out there” the problem is more often “which event do I do tonight” rather than “what do I do tonight?”

This gives the businesses, large and small many, many opportunities to promote their products and services to a variety of audiences, in a variety of ways. And business here is very smart about participating, because Honolulu’s business is all about relationships, they know events are the place for them.

What’s lacking at these events so often, is an activation plan. I mean, how are you getting the attendee to experience and relate to your brand? For some companies, (food companies for example) this is easy, “here try!”. But if you are say, an insurance company, how do you get people engaged? Well, that’s called activation. Activation is one word that many marketers don’t want to talk about – they don’t want to hear that they have to take an active role in the success of their event, sponsorship or promotion. If you don’t know where to start with activation, ask for assistance from the event you are sponsoring, in fact, ASK for ideas when you get a proposal. If you have an agency, ask them too. The best activation, engages the attendees, collects information, and gives you a reason to engage them once again.

There is a great article in this month’s Event Marketing magazine about photo activation. They use three companies as examples: Home Depot, Evian and Oscar Meyer. All of them are fun, but for pure marketing value and practicality, I’d have to say that the Home Depot is my favorite. Here’s why I like it: it drives people to their website (where they sell items), collects information on their attendees (allowing them to know their customer better) and provides them with a branded “keep sake” that is likely to be passed on, therefore enhancing brand image. This idea also gives Home Depot a way to stay in touch and inform the participant on such things as “do it yourself clinics , sales and coupons, and drives traffic! Because the events Home Depot does this at are all events in which they have heavily invested already, its a great touch point, and the attendees enjoy the experience of the event all that much more. This promo just shows why events are so powerful as marketing tools-it gives wings to all your other marketing efforts.

As you start to brainstorm ideas about activation, you will notice that even the largest, most important brands use activation. Please tell me again, why don’t you want to or need to? As marketers, now is the time to get engaged…if you aren’t engaged, how can you expect your consumers to be?!