From attending design-led exhibitions, I have first hand experience in the impact an event can have on your brand. Being seen at a well-known event can raise your brand reputation and give you exposure to key buyers and journalists from your industry. But what impact can hosting your own public or corporate event have against attending an exhibition?
Today I collaborate with Ben Cole, managing director of live experience agency Inspired, to discuss how companies can create their own events and the benefits this can have for their business.
Firstly, why should you consider running your own event against attending an exhibition?
Exhibitions are like show-homes, carefully constructed to appeal to the needs of a particular market. So for me the biggest benefit of running your own event is the ability to create your own home, rather than a showroom. You get to create the event around you and your stakeholders needs; this may vary depending on whether you are holding a public or corporate event or event aimed at the public.
Ben: “From identifying and engaging with potential attendees to the design of the event environment and how the event is hosted, the organisation remains in complete control, without having to fight against competing brands and products on neighbouring stands at an exhibition. At the most basic level, attendees at your own event are there to engage with your brand only, and have already qualified their interest by turning up. In reality, the sales process within most professional organisations is so complex that it is very difficult to attribute sales purely made as a result of events. Often, attendees will have engaged with that brand beforehand, and may already be an existing customer, so there may be little hard evidence to suggest that a single event will have influenced their purchasing behaviour.”
Despite not directly affecting sales, the event can have significant impact on the customers’ loyalty to the brand, which may lead to higher sales.
So where do we start in thinking about running an event?
Ben: “ Great events are based on clear and realistic objectives depending on what the organisation is trying to achieve. It might be educating and inspiring people about a new product; or introducing new stakeholders to the company’s brand & vision. Running an event “because that’s what the company has always done” will not deliver tangible benefits to the company”.
I couldn’t agree more that an event doesn’t have to be based upon what the company has always done. It can be trying something completely new, but an event must have smart objectives to measure the impact it has on the company. These objectives can be different for each stakeholder; as an example, for a fashion product release party you could measure the amount of editorial features written about the collection by journalists, or sales achieved from new prospective buyers.
That being said, a consistent theme should be kept throughout. It is difficult to measure any direct sales impacts from running an event, as usually the majority of the attendees will be people who have previously been connected with the organisation in some way, but it does help to raise the loyalty to the brand.
How far ahead should I plan and what is the importance of location?
I know how quickly time can pass when organising an event. Bear in mind all the things you need to make the event happen: promotional materials, products, catering as well as considering how far in advance you need to inform your stakeholders. If you are selling tickets you may want to do this months in advance! Be prepared to be flexible.
Ben: “Location can be very important in helping shape the audience perception of the overall experience. The setting and perceived quality of a venue should reflect the brand of the organisation that is staging the event – either as it stands now, or showing aspiration for where it wants to get to.”
Back to the reputation point, location can be key in growing your brand. Holding an event in a high profile location, with ease of access from the rest of the country, can make a significant difference to the popularity of your event. It is also important to think about the logistics and your stakeholders. I remember getting an invite to a supper club once where the organisation offered to pay for our taxi from the tube station; I couldn’t complain!
The costs of the events can be high, how can you cut costs as a start-up company?
Ben: “Question the value of everything needed for your event – if an item doesn’t really help you achieve your agreed event objectives, then think seriously whether it is required. The goal is to make every event relevant by delivering a great experience – one that is remembered and talked about long afterwards.”
For me a way of cutting costs is thinking about the networks you have in your company. It may be an employee whose sister owns a catering company, or a cousin who owns a club in London. Make use of the six degrees of separation and don’t be afraid to ask for favours.
Ben and I would love to hear your thoughts on what types of events you have run as
an organisation and the impact they have made to your company.
If you are interested in speaking to Ben regarding your event activity, you can visit
his site below.