What is the Future of Experiential Event Planning?
In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Evolve Activation is featured as one of the Top Event Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile!
First off, I’d like to cover what we hope is the past of experiential events. The pandemic!
We are still in a pandemic. Marketing agencies and event planners must continue to take precautions to bring safe, yet immersive experiences to consumers, creating a brand experience that drives brand awareness and consideration while protecting the safety of our guests. Brand growth relies on face-to-face engagement to drive connectivity and invite consumers to immerse themselves in the brand’s persona.
While event professionals are still planning for this hurdle, we’d like to believe that the worst is behind us and that brand engagements will be able to move forward with less apparent precautions. In-person events moving forward will always require some form of additional safety precautions because these best practices are now here to stay. While some precautions will be less obvious, there will still be noticeable safety measures at marketing events that will remain a part of our everyday experiences.
What does Evolve Activation see as the Future of Experiential Event Planning?
In two words: social responsibility.
How is Social Responsibility the Future of Event Marketing?
Let’s first consider the client.
Social responsibility has become the forefront in how brands source and vet the marketing agency they will work with on a project. This didn’t use to be the case. Clients and brands have specific social, sustainability, or accountability guidelines they need to follow for corporate responsibility.
Until recently, only brands were required to meet their socially responsible standards. Now vendors are being seen as an extension of the core brand, requiring vendors to adhere to the same brand guidelines. After all, we are only as good as the company we keep.
Corporate responsibilities traditionally fall into one of these categories:
- Environmental Responsibility
- Ethical Responsibility
- Philanthropic Responsibility
- Economic Responsibility
An event marketing agency must meet its potential clients’ needs. Festival and event marketing have typically been unfriendly to the environment in the past. Think of the many giveaways you’ve seen at events; where do those trinkets end up? We once ordered one million ping pong balls for a college brand experience. This type of request would be highly scrutinized and likely rejected in this day and age. While promotional items are great to bring in the masses, they are not something that typically has a long-term value and often become waste by the end of the night.
Brands want marketing agencies that mirror their environment and ethical corporate responsibility values. Part of the vetting and pitch process in the future will require proof of social involvement and civic responsibility. We constantly experience this as part of the current pitch process.
How do Event Marketing Agencies Prepare for the Future of Experiential Events?
For successful event marketing, agencies need to make changes to meet the needs of their clients. Or keep “evolving” to purpose lead marketing practices. Start by sourcing an entirely new set of vendors to work with on-purpose lead event activations. We have some trusted old-school vendors we love, but they do not meet the social standards that some of our clients expect for live events. While we plan to use these vendors for as long as possible, there will be a day when they do not measure up to our agency’s purpose lead marketing strategy. We must meet the values that our clients expect for their brands.
Think about something as simple as utensils for a food sampling event. Our agency has been testing and sourcing new environmentally friendly disposable event items for events for four years. We now source bamboo eating utensils for our events. Our environmentally responsible strategy doesn’t stop there. We tried paper straws for one event, and our guests’ feedback was that it diminished the brand experience, so we had to keep searching. We’ve now tried bamboo, reusable, rice, straw (literally wheat), and flavored edible straws. We found different winners depending on the product.
Another consideration is quality. Find an event marketing partner that is dedicated to providing the best quality for the attendee experience, whether it is event booth fabrications, giveaways, and kits. One that has created such a tight-knit group of high-quality vendors willing to work with us on pricing and meet tight deadlines. While some of our vendors have been transitioning along with us to more socially conscious practices, we do have a couple of gaps. We’ve found solid vendors that meet our needs, but we can find better pricing and flexible options for our clients’ events.
When considering cost, it is key to provide clients with a side-by-side of a cost-effective event activation vs. a socially responsible event activation. There are often additional costs for socially responsible event management; we leave it up to the client what path they want to choose. Occasionally the socially responsible option provides a discount in price. Our experts have mostly seen improved pricing on mobile event tours when choosing the most eco-friendly route, saving on fuel, road time, and not filling an open spot with an unnecessary event.
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Socially Responsible Event Marketing is a Global Experience
We all know that human rights and workers’ rights are a vital part of our daily lives. With the rise of social responsibility, those rights are becoming important on a global front. Staying aware of social justice on a global scale and doing our best to source products and materials from areas that support healthy work environments for all.
The events industry had a lot of free time on our hands during the pandemic, and we put our time to good use by sampling socially responsible products and building a network of socially responsible vendors. We know socially responsible event platforms are available, but it’s rare to find an agency that will concentrate on this category.
An Experiential Marketing Strategy is Needed for the Event Experience
You’ll never believe the amount of time we’ve invested in ensuring we provide top-notch, socially responsibly event solutions. We’ve realized that many vendors make claims and offer substandard eco-products. In 2022, a majority of our new clients require a purpose-driven marketing strategy.
The future of experiential and marketing events is providing socially responsible solutions without missing a beat. There is little time to source new products, build relationships, and negotiate prices on new event materials. Once the event strategy is confirmed, the pipeline must be in place and ready to go to market.
About the author
Justin spearheads account services, utilizing a partnership-driven approach to ensure client satisfaction. His deep field experience informs program development, creating experiences that resonate with the target demographic while tracking key metrics to measure impact and ROI.