As we look ahead to the rest of 2022, one thing savvy event marketers know is that audiences want more from events. Gone are the days when a series of speakers in a hotel ballroom cut the mustard for a compelling event. Audiences want an experience, and they want to feel a real world connection to what they’re experiencing. Enter experiential marketing. This marketing strategy gives brands the opportunity to fully immerse and connect their audience with their products or services (think pop-up events). So what should event marketers keep top of mind as they’re developing their experiential marketing strategies? Keep reading!
Insights to consider for experiential marketing in 2022
- Connect and inspire. Let’s be honest. The past two years have been stressful, and at times, downright scary. Now more than ever, people deeply want connection and inspiration in all areas of their life. We’ve all been cooped up and isolated so when we do gather, we want a release from the anxiety and stress. Think about how your next event experience can bring joy and inspiration to your attendees (in addition to learning). Consider elements such as the use of bold color, creative ways to transform spaces, and art installations to bring some much needed light and whimsy to your audience. Additionally, consider making community and connection the heart of your event. People are craving togetherness so events that prioritize connection and shared experiences will be in high demand.
- Tout your values. In light of world events and the pandemic, many customers are rethinking their impact on the world. This includes a better understanding of the values and actions of the brands they support. This provides an opportunity for businesses to be open about what they support and how their operations affect the world around them. Consider centering event experiences or activations around what your brand stands for as a way to connect with your audience. In the past, this may have been a riskier marketing strategy but today’s customers expect their brands to be more human and actively participate in important social conversations.
- COVID is still a concern. COVID safety and mindfulness will continue to be paramount for any business that is bringing people together. While people are ready to get back to “normal” life, they also want to feel safe while doing it. Proactively address any safety concerns by talking about your event’s protocols such as limited attendance or outdoor options so attendees feel good about attending and engaging. Many marketing pros predict that primarily outdoor events with metered entries will continue to be popular. You can get creative with experiences like roller rinks or event domes. The days of packing people into any indoor venue are probably behind us so it will be important to think of alternatives. Additionally, reconsider elements such as tray passed food and drinks and think about implementing food stations, meals in containers, and digital menus.
- Hybrid is probably here to stay. While many in the event industry are split on the staying power of virtual events, most agree that hybrid events – a mix of in-person and virtual elements – are likely not going away. In addition to mitigating COVID concerns, the hybrid model is a great way to increase event attendance and reach a broader audience. Many brands are recognizing the benefits of reaching beyond local or regional audiences and opening a dialogue with consumers all over the world. Additionally, events with compelling digital experience added to the live aspect (rather than just livestreaming the in-person event) can create a unique and engaging event for local and international audiences. You’re adding an entirely new element to an experiential event which can keep your current attendees engaged and attract new ones.
- Diversity and inclusion are critical. While virtual events made accessibility and inclusivity a bit easier to manage, many brands are rethinking these elements as they move back into real world events. We spoke earlier about how important connection is to consumers right now, and that extends into creating opportunities for everyone to engage. It’s important that brands consider and incorporate accommodations such as visual, auditory, cognitive, and sensory, to make everyone feel included. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Plus, you want to make sure that all of your hard work can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s also important to think about diversity and inclusion internally. Are you making the same accommodations for your staff as you do for attendees?
- Get familiar with the digital world. The jury may still be out on the staying power of NFTs and the metaverse, but many industry pros suggest that event marketers get familiar with them. Artists and businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and are finding creative ways to engage with their audiences in these spaces. Hey, Facebook even changed its company name to “Meta” so it’s probably worth paying attention to.
Keep learning and stay flexible
While this is hardly an exhaustive list of experiential marketing trends, these are important ones to think about and keep in your front pocket. 2022 (and beyond) will likely come with its own twists and turns that will keep event marketers on their toes so it’s important to stay abreast of trends and stay open to learning new ways of doing things. While we don’t know what’s coming next, we can safely bet on experiential marketing as an exciting and creative way to keep customers engaged and create compelling events.
If you’re about to set off on an experiential marketing journey and could use some help, let’s have a conversion. At InGo, we help businesses solve their biggest event marketing challenges and drive more attendance and engagement. Find out what we can do for you!