It was Sir Isaac Newton that said “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Now I know that’s physics and you’re here to read an event marketing blog, but stick with me here and all shall become clear.
If you start thinking of your event as a science experiment, you’ll start to notice patterns that will take you right back to science class. Even if you never learned your periodic table, there was one thing everyone remembers: mixing elements can create incredible reactions.
In our world of experiential marketing, elements could be people, they could be spaces, they could be objects, they could be anything. But when we concentrate all of those elements together under one roof, we have the potential for an incredible chemical reaction. So, we need our elements to align to create amazing experiences.
Where Can I Start?
Break down every little element that your attendee may experience from the moment that person walks towards your event, and see what you could do to improve on their experience. They may not even notice it, but they also may have just had the BEST walk to your venue they've ever had. Their first experience of your event is a good one, now let’s carry that on!
So, keeping with the science theme; we’ve touched on physics, we dallied with chemistry and now we’ll jump to fun discipline: biology. In this section, let’s take a look at the core senses you can engage when approaching your next event.
We often see things before we hear, touch or smell them. So, quite simply, ask yourself the question: does "it" look good? "It" could be anything from your logo design, website, show entrance or clever use of AV through the welcome experience.
What about an awesome sculpture the local art college helped create to be outside of the venue? Don't just think about the inside. Literally think outside of the box (venue). Create a tunnel if it’s always raining. Have screens showing the next key note speaking session, but think beyond words on a slide, get animated with an awesome AV team.
We don't use sound enough in our space. Well, that's not entirely true. Walk into any exhibition hall and you'll typically hear a cacophony of sound from the networking chatter going on between hundreds or thousands of people, to the noises the crazy wiz bang wotsit stand is making (every show has one right?!).
But what about a space of silence?
Create a space that people can check in to for 20 minutes or so. You can still get your messaging across through wall graphics, branded cups or note pads, just without the extra noise. Or why not use directional audio to target certain areas of the entrance or walk ways with helpful or guided information? For example, if people are queuing into a theatre, you can place different speakers at different intervals, introducing an amazing acoustic soundscape to keep people in line and not let them wander off. Failing that, what about a marching band. Everyone loves a marching band, right?
Hands up if you've been to one of the food shows over recent years? What's the most common thing you'll see at these events? Aside from the latest trend in cooking that year, it's that slightly puckered face you'll see of an individual, followed by a "mmmm, that was delicious." So think about your event or venue’s food. Venues have really upped their catering game and some of the food is incredible. Ask to see the menu options so you can tailor the spread - make it yours, make it excellent.
How can we make a bustling trade show hall smell nice? Sure, some flowers or diffuser sticks could work wonders in some areas, but let's start in one of the more controlled areas of an event, the welcome experience. Typically funnelled through a smaller area, you have the chance to engage subtly with people's sense of smell. How, and somewhat importantly, why?
Think about any good smells that have enacted fond memories and great experiences for you and then think about how you use them. For example, for me, it's fresh bread being baked near our campsite on the beach in France. It woke me up in the morning and had me scrambling for euros so I could run off to the bakery quickly and pick up my baguette. And perhaps a pan au chocolate as well. Anyway... that smell brings out happy memories for me. Could smell help relax people or take them to their happy place as they walk into your show? Especially if you have a busy entrance way. You’d be surprised how a simple pleasantry such as smell could affect crowd interaction.
Physical interactions help your memory recall happenings. Whether you’re talking about a growing walkway of plants though the centre of your show that people can brush their hands past, or a feature product area that people can interact with, the way something feels can recall great memories. Granted, we can't all install a little bio dome in our 2/3 day events, so why not keep the touch simple? Equip your audience with something like a smart badge so that they can interact with every stand/show content/feature area etc. Give them the opportunity to touch and engage with the environment around them.
So, senses, elements, experiments… What?
Don't forget, everyone is different and everyone has different needs, so everyone will experience your event differently. To be inclusive of all walks of life and all abilities, it's so important to plan your experiences so that all elements you put into the science mixing pot are aligned to help you deliver a successful event and engaging experiences for your attendees.
So, what about you?
Do you have all the elements to create a successful event? Need some help planning your next epic event - here's a guide with all the essentials.
About the Author
Matt has been working in events & exhibitions for over 10 years. From organising, to design, to website, and onto registration and intelligent data services, Matt has extensive experience at every level. With a background in organisation, marketing and design Matt is able to cut through the technology and approach data and registration solutions with the end users in mind. As Technology Engagement Architect for GES and an active participant in the industry, Matt has been involved in a variety of industrywide research projects and is an expert in how to prove ROI and manage data effectively.Follow on Twitter More Content by Matt Coyne