Originally published in Engage Magazine, click here to download your free copy.
At GES we have a marketing campaign that touts our ‘epic events for epic clients’. You may disagree, but we think this is a pretty clever angle on our business, and we’d argue that much of our work could qualify as epic and that, of course, all of our clients are epic.
Yes, I am pandering. The thing is, when you claim to produce epic events, you need to make things a bit more concrete and explain what you mean.
What is an epic event? How do you create one? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
The five essential elements of an epic event
1. It connects with hearts and minds. Like all of us, event attendees make decisions based on a mix of emotional and rational factors. But, all too often, event marketing relies on being entirely emotion or entirely intellect. Epic events consider both, and are designed to affect our hearts and minds equally.
Emotional impact can be sad or inspirational or funny. Even provocation has its place. Rational impact is evidence and fact-based. The best events mix both into an irresistible cocktail.
2. It serves a purpose. More than ever before, people expect businesses to be driven by a mission greater than the products or services they sell. Epic events align to a mission and seek to drive greater value – to tangibly contribute to making the world a better place.
This drives emotional investment by attendees, who want to align to brands (and attend events) that share their values. And some advice to event marketers: if there is no business mission, or the mission is muddy, create a purpose for the event.
3. It’s surprising. Little-known secret: most events are insufferably boring. I’d suggest that the industry start with making sure everything that happens at events is interesting. After that, adding in delightful and surprising moments can take the event to epic.
This can include surprising speakers or F&B treats or product announcements or all of the above. Surprising moments are etched in people’s memories. Surprises that they tell others about.
4. It’s share worthy. Speaking of telling others, epic events are experienced physically and through attendee devices as they capture key moments and photos to share in their own social networks.
Event marketers need to filter their activation ideas to make sure they are indeed worth sharing. We believe that people share content that helps them express who they are – so begin by gaining a deeper understanding of your audience and the content they already share.
5. It’s measurable. Why strive for epic if you aren’t evaluating impact? Epic impact is understanding the effect of the event on hearts and minds – from changes in perception of the brand to anticipated sales.
And if the event has a mission, real, tangible impact can be evaluated on moving that mission forward. Survey attendees to understand their beliefs and intended behaviours. Track and report on progress because understanding what works (and doesn’t) is the key to doing better next time around.
In the intro, I mentioned that many of GES produced events are epic. In truth, epic is a journey – we are always striving for greater impact and we always feel like we can do more and do it better.
So, with that, I wish you well on your journey to epic events!