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Events Agencies Agency Leadership

6 key components of the ‘holistic promotion’ paradigm in experiential marketing

By Sebastien Klein, SVP, Group Strategy Director

Jack Morton


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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April 10, 2024 | 7 min read

‘If you build it they will come’: a nice fantasy, but no longer true, says Jack Morton’s Sebastien Klein. In the world of experiential marketing, promoting the whole life cycle of the experience is just as important as excellence in execution.

A bright light show against a dark background

Experiential marketing's new 'holistic promotion' paradigm / Tyler Lastovich via Unsplash

Experiential marketing budgets remain tighter than skinny jeans post-pandemic. Inflation has raised costs, slashed marketing budgets, and made sponsor dollars harder to secure. Meanwhile, attendees expect more than ever; they crave an ultra-relevant, stimulating experience beyond inspirational content, with more immersive interactions and opportunities to connect.

Thus, for good reason, experiential marketing teams hustle to add as much value to their experiences as possible. But they often stumble when it’s time to extract it – a letdown amid heightened scrutiny on expenditure.

Crafting a compelling experience is crucial, but equally significant is the strategic promotion that precedes, accompanies, and follows it. Today, the success of an experience extends far beyond its execution; just building it won’t guarantee that they will come.

Event promotion is integral to experience design

Developing an effective promotional strategy for a brand experience is not a standalone task, and not one to be handled by a separate task force.

True 360-degree event promotion principles embed event promotion in overall experience design from the start. Collaboration across specialized skillsets from comms, channel planners, strategists, brand managers, creatives, and production can deliver a powerful brand experience that’s not just a moment in time, but a holistic journey, tightly connected to and aligned with your broader marketing ecosystem.

1. Driving resonance and relevancy: Tailored messaging

When crafting distinct experience journeys for specific audiences against varying objectives, don’t fall into the ‘one-size-fits-all’ messaging trap.

Start with comprehensive communications planning as the foundation for successful event promotion and instant audience connection – if they don't instantly get what's in it for them, they won't show up or even pay attention.

2. Audience distinctions: Strategic channel prioritization

Acknowledge audience nuances, media consumption behaviors, channel preferences, and congregation points. These insights, along with the recognition that not all audiences leverage the same platforms and channels for the same purposes, should drive your channel prioritization and overarching plans. This will ensure you hit the right notes with the right crowd in the right places.

3. Unlocking untapped audiences: The power of paid media

Relying solely on reaching known audiences through owned channels and 1:1 outreach is limiting. The better approach is to leverage highly targetable paid media to reach new audiences and control or shift the makeup of attendees in favor of high-opportunity targets.

Remain nimble and agile with pre-planned contingency tactics that can be turned on and off as needed, optimizing spend without overspending. The more exclusive and sought-after your experience, the more you should curate your guest list.

4. Channel-specificity matters: Precision beyond basics

Once you’ve smartly defined what to say, to whom, when, and where, resist reverting to basic instincts in channel execution. How you convey the message is just as crucial. Prioritize reach drivers for awareness-building at scale and promote storytelling-conducive formats like video and digital audio to tease and hype.

Make the most of lower-funnel placements to convert interest into registrations and ticket sales while driving anticipation and fostering pre-event chatter through engagement-based executions.

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5. A holistic event journey: Beyond a moment in time

Implement a ‘pre/during/post’ comms strategy for continuity, treating the event as a tentpole moment within a series of touchpoints that deliver a more impactful and memorable journey –one that’s more likely to achieve long-term business objectives.

Repurposing content for on-demand views and fostering community engagement year-round amplifies the event beyond a marquee moment and physical walls. A predefined follow-up plan can go a long way to drive long-tail connection, conversions, and loyalty, but also helps reach incremental audiences and reinforce your message. Keep the good momentum you’ve built going.

6. Measurement strategy: Fueling continuous improvement

Develop a robust measurement strategy to understand effectiveness. Establish benchmarks to contextualize success, drive continuous improvements and demonstrate ROI – all must-haves to preserve or increase event investments. An approach centered on constant learning and optimizing not only demonstrates responsible budget stewardship but also sets the tone for purposeful decision-making and intentional creativity throughout.

Today, outcomes steal the spotlight over outputs. Success lies in embracing tailored messaging, diversified channel planning, and strategic use of paid media as integral components of the overall brand experience. Adopt a dynamic, interconnected approach, continuously measured, refined, and elevated for enduring impact. Surround yourself with partners who share the vision, seamlessly extending your team with subject matter expertise to bring it to fruition.

It’s time to turn your event from ordinary to extraordinary. It isn’t just a gathering; it’s a narrative, a journey, and a movement towards unparalleled success.

Events Agencies Agency Leadership

Content by The Drum Network member:

Jack Morton

No one sets out to be average. No one aspires to be ordinary. Jack Morton is an award-winning global brand experience agency that exists to reimagine what an experience...

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