EXHIBITING- July/ August 2010 www. exhibitingmagazine. co. uk 13 cover story Brands prefer to spend budgets on the event itself because they have anecdotal evidence that the event works. Brands often measure event success in softer ways, by speaking to their staff and customers, so they don't feel the need to rigorously measure it. And, of course, big brands would not continue to invest in events if they didn't deliver. Media planners prefer to buy media channels that are measured to within an inch of their lives. The data extracted from traditional TV, radio or print campaigns can sit happily on computer screens and be used to precisely plan a campaign. I'm not saying that this is wrong; these people are effectively a guardian for a brand budget and they need to justify spend. But, perhaps it's time for them to come into the real world of experiences and not just plan campaigns by relying on what it says on their screens? It's a numbers game to them and they tend to go for size over substance: " If our adverts are seen by over 1m people, then that just has to be better than just a few thousand at an event?" But, by seeing brands exhibiting at or hosting a live event, a smaller audience really connects and engages with them. Surely that's better than passively viewing a TV and simply changing channels? I t's an issue I discuss a lot but, in my opinion, media buyers and planners still seem unable to get their heads around the effectiveness of live events. Live events are getting recognition in their world, but they are often the first thing to be removed from the marketing mix if budgets get cut. Measured for success? I think it may be hard for media buyers to understand the argument for events because, traditionally, the effectiveness of events has been hard to measure. We know that event effectiveness can be measured, but often brands do not feel the need to invest in the measurement process. Ian Irving It's not just a numbers game anymore Director of RPM Corporate, Ian Irving, wants media planners to throw away the tape measure and seriously consider live events. " Brands often measure event success in softer ways" Although traditional marketing avenues provide statistics, can figures create brand advocates the same way live marketing can?
cover story Do you have the time? Another issue to be considered is that events take time to activate. They are not marketing items that can be picked up and created at the drop of a hat. Once a campaign has been devised it is then pretty straightforward to book and place TV, billboard or magazine advertising. However, it takes time and creativity to turn that campaign into a live experience, whether that be for a consumer audience at a festival, a B2B audience in an exhibition hall or for an internal staff conference. There is also some confusion in the market place caused by media agencies pretending to actually create events themselves, then sending the brief to an events agency to do the actual work. Things get lost in translation; the agency account managers are not event specialists and so do not know the right questions to ask, nor properly understand what does and doesn't work. The event agency gets briefed by an intermediary who has a limited understanding, both of the brand and of the event mechanic, so it shouldn't be a surprise if the resulting event is less than effective. Media sellers need to look at the bigger picture and invest in the research of events and experiences or align themselves to research agencies which have the experience and expertise to measure. In doing this they will see there is huge value in the qualitative power of a live experience. Events are the most powerful form of engagement and are proven to influence the buying behaviours and advocacy of consumers. Today's consumers are hungry for immersion, engagement and benefit. There is no proven benefit to them of a TV or print advert. In fact, recent research in the USA showed that at least 40 per cent of people watching TV in the US are actually asleep. This type of advertising is a one- way communication, a message forced onto a consumer. Why should they listen? Research from live marketing body FaceTime shows that one in three people experience uplift in positive attitudes after attending an event. This is against one in four people experiencing uplift to a 30- second TV advert. Brands that assume their customers are receptive to this antiquated approach are often sadly disappointed. More and more, consumers ask ' what's in it for me?' We all know it's all about a relationship, so why should that relationship be one sided? FaceTime also tells us that, before a show, 32 per cent of visitors interviewed saw live events as the best way brands could market themselves. This figure rose to 74 per cent post- show. Marketing has changed and media planners need to keep up. Gone are the days of mass messaging and ' one size fits all'. It is not a numbers game and not a case of ' throw enough mud and some of it will stick'. Consumers are savvy towards advertising; they can choose to ignore it. So, brands can choose how to communicate with their audience: an immersive experience that engages and rewards a consumer or a static, one- dimensional approach that may be seen by a larger audience. I know which one I would choose. Tuning off: is anyone really taking in your one- way advertising? 14 www. exhibitingmagazine. co. uk July/ August 2010 - EXHIBITING Research conducted by UK marketing body FaceTime ( across Q4 09 and Q1 10; 1,160 show visitors interviewed across four shows) . One in three people experience an uplift in positive attitudes after attending an event. . 74 per cent of post- show interviewees said live events is the ' best form of marketing'. . After experiencing brands at trade events, 28 per cent more visitors indicated ' I would like to buy', with 29 per cent at consumer events. . 36 per cent of visitors said event attendance ' makes it easier to decide to buy', doubled to 76 per cent afterwards. . 50 per cent of visitors expect events to be the ' best place to find out new things', rising to 85 per cent afterwards. . After attending, 74 per cent of visitors thought events ' let you be more open minded about what brands offer'.