How to Hire an Event Marketing Agency
Whether your company is looking to build and boost brand awareness through brand activations, recruit and network with influencers to enhance your marketing, or plan a presence at trade shows, hiring an event marketing agency can pay huge dividends while ensuring success.
Event marketing agencies are highly specialized, while at the same time being able to provide in-depth services including event marketing strategy development, social media marketing campaigns, event staff sourcing, decor and finishing, and much more. Here we’ll take a look at what event marketing agencies can do, the differences between working with a freelance event planner and an established event marketing agency, and some helpful tips as you look to hire a reputable event marketing agency to create a successful event for your company and everyone in attendance.
What is an Event Marketing Agency?
First up, let’s look at what exactly an event marketing agency is, and what they can do. Like digital marketing and social media marketing, event marketing (or experiential marketing) is designed primarily to get the word out. But with the huge number of ads people see or hear each day, it can be hard to breakthrough. And you have a company or product line or services that are great, and people really should hear about them.
Event marketing is a way to connect directly with customers and the public, engaging with them through themed promotions, presentations, displays, and webinars. There are numerous ways to accomplish your goals with event marketing.
An event marketing agency, then, is a firm with a full range of experienced staff. They will be well versed in virtually everything, from event management to social media marketing of events (and stunts), event planning, communications and event marketing strategy, hiring or providing event staff, contacting influencers to boost your event’s reach, cooperative partnership opportunities, and much more. Event marketing agencies have a ton of know-how in these areas and are often run and managed by professionals with extensive event planning experience and backgrounds.
What are the Different Types of Event Marketing Services?
We listed some examples of the services that an event marketing agency can provide above, but when it comes to types of events or examples, there are countless options.
An event marketing agency can help you plan, strategize, and concept any type of event for your brand, including:
Particularly great for software and app launches, game developers, and more.
Networking events and happy hours
Getting people talking is one of the most effective forms of marketing and branding.
Charity events (5K walk/run, etc.)
With your brand front and center on the day of the 5K, everyone in attendance will know about your business before the day is done.
Raffles, sweepstakes, and giveaways
There’s no substitute for the excitement of winning, and these options engage customers while also building their affinity for your brand.
The exclusivity and surprise of a pop-up restaurant or store event always builds huge buzz and gets people excited about your products.
Why Do I Need to Invest in Event Marketing for My Business?
You’re likely already heavily invested in your marketing efforts. So the natural question is, “Why should I add the expense of event marketing?”
More than other forms of marketing, event marketing is an incredibly direct way to engage with your customers. They in turn get to interact with your brand in person, developing a connection that can’t otherwise be created. That connection means leads that are much more robust, and much more likely to result in future purchases or sales (or donations if you are running a non-profit organization).
Event marketing is also highly effective among key demographics and audiences. Nearly 50% of millennials have attended event marketing promotions and posted about them on social media, in turn providing your company with even more reach and a larger audience. Talk about bang for your buck.
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Should I Hire an Event Marketing Agency or a Freelancer?
When looking into working with an outside vendor for the services your business needs, you can generally go with an agency or with a freelance resource. And event marketing is no different. Let’s take a look at some of the positives of each, and why hiring an event marketing agency might be the right choice for your brand.
Positives and Negatives of Working With an Agency
Choosing to work with an event marketing agency brings with it several key benefits, starting with the dedicated staff, expertise, and know-how that will be available to your business right from the start. Nearly every event marketing agency has numerous dedicated resources they can bring to bear on your event. From an in-house planning team to public relations pros, social media marketing experts, relationships with event staffing agencies, and more, there is a lot of brainpower that agencies can bring to your event.
Event marketing agencies may also have experience with finding and contracting with brand ambassadors. They’ll usually be well versed in both live events and virtual events as well, so you can choose the right event for your needs.
On the other hand, there are also some potential downsides that you’ll want to consider, including:
This is always an important factor, and hiring an event marketing agency may add an expense that your company can’t afford.
Successful event marketing takes time. From planning to marketing and execution, just know that you are signing on for a longer working relationship with your event marketing agency than you would with a digital marketing firm, for example.
Will this event come together and look like an extension of your existing brand? An outside agency may take some time to get familiar with your business and your brand, but that process will be critical for brand activations, trade shows, and more.
Positives and Negatives of Freelancers
Another option is working with a freelance or independent event management or event marketing professional. Some of the reasons why companies choose freelancers include a lower cost (compared with agencies), a direct relationship with your event marketer, immediate availability, and potentially a more open schedule to focus on your event.
There are some downsides with freelancers as well, though, including:
A freelance event marketing professional will most likely be very knowledgeable in some event areas, but not all. Will they have venue contacts, social media marketing experience, and venue preparation experience? Most likely not.
Working with a single individual rather than a full agency staff will mean that your event planning and execution will take longer. If you have the time, that may not matter, but if you’re trying to tie your event to a larger marketing campaign, the schedule may be a challenge.
Will your freelancer be able to provide you with in-depth reporting on your event? While ROI is difficult to measure for anyone, it may be difficult for a freelancer to access and analyze other data for you. They may not have the tools, or perhaps experience, in analytics and reporting.
Why You Should Hire an Event Marketing Agency
Considering all of the pros and cons, and weighing the capabilities and options of both the agency and freelance choices, hiring an event marketing agency is very often the right call.
The tools, knowledge, connections, and successes that an established event marketing agency offers will provide significant advantages to your company. And they will have a proven track record of successful events they have hosted, making them able to provide you with examples and insight as you plan and build your event.
Hiring an Event Marketing Agency
Here, let’s take a look at some of the specifics of finding, hiring, and collaborating with an event marketing agency or experiential marketing firm. Using this information should help you make the decision to hire a firm, and then find just the right experiential marketing agency to collaborate with on a successful event.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Event Marketing Agency?
No surprise here; the first question you’ll have is how much an agency will cost you. And while the range of pricing and billing models is very wide, there are some basic figures you can keep in mind to help you consider cost before moving forward.
Many event marketing firms and experiential marketing agencies base their fees on a percentage of the event’s overall budget. While rates can vary dramatically, a good rule is between 8%-15% of the total spending on your event. For example, if you are planning a $65,000 networking event (with meals, a keynote speaker, etc.), your event marketing agency price will be approximately $5,000-$9,500. However, many agencies will lower the percentage of their fee for larger events. For instance, that number could dip to as low as 3%-5% for a full trade show presence and all of the required work and design that go into that.
How to Find a Reputable Event Marketing Agency
Now you are ready to start the search. But how do you find a great event marketing agency to work with?
Just like when you’re car shopping or searching for a new TV, reviews are a great place to start. While many agencies will include testimonials and even case studies on their sites, you can also find reviews in several places online. That includes here on UpCity, where trusted providers are backed by reviews from satisfied clients and customers.
You can also think back to great events that you have attended, or events hosted by partner organizations. If you remember a particularly great experiential marketing event, why not find out which event marketing agency was running the show?
Questions to Ask an Event Marketing Agency
When you set up calls with agencies, you’re interviewing them for the job. And just like any other interview, you’ll want to bring some good questions with you.
How many events have you successfully hosted and marketed?
Quantity isn’t the only factor that matters (or even the most important one), but this is a great place to start the conversation. It will open the door to the agency giving you specific examples of events and experiences that they are most proud of.
What tools do you use for marketing and reporting?
Find out about the specific technology they use, and how they put it to use. You may be particularly interested in social media management tools, or data analytics and reporting. Either way, this is a useful question for narrowing down your choices.
What size events do you typically host or manage?
Right away you’ll be able to tell if they can handle the event that you’re looking to host. And you will find out about the potential range of their projects, from happy hours to full trade shows.
These are obviously just a few examples, but they should help you get started and think of other specific questions that you need to be answered.
Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring an Event Marketing Agency
What should you avoid when hiring an agency for your experiential marketing event?
First, don’t go into making calls and scheduling meetings until you have your team on board. And be sure to involve them in the calls as well. Establishing that partnership early on will be crucial to making the whole project a success.
Second, you want to avoid starting the process without well-defined and realistic goals. Again, your team will be incredibly valuable here to ensure that you have the information you need.
Another mistake to avoid is not setting clear expectations (including budget) upfront. The goals are a part of this, of course, but so are other factors like points of contact, timing, priority order, etc.
Once you have selected an event marketing agency to collaborate with, you should expect a genuine partnership aimed at making your event both exciting and effective. It’s not enough just to have a great-looking trade show booth or a fantastic time at the networking cocktail event; you and your agency also want to make sure that your goals are achieved and expectations are exceeded with the best event possible.
You should expect clear and open lines of communication throughout the process, as well. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same event goals begins with great communication.
And you should expect peace of mind. Rather than all of the dozens of factors swirling around in your head or stealing critical time from your staff, you have an experienced event and experienced partner who knows what they need to do to make your event marketing successful. s
Give Your Brand a Kickstart
Now that you have a solid foundation for considering event marketing agencies to complete your overall marketing efforts, start dreaming big. The possibilities nowadays are endless when it comes to engaging directly with clients, customers, or prospects, and there are several outstanding event marketing firms ready to show you what can be done.