Is your brand ready to rock live events in the roaring twenty twenties? Here are five points to help you create a live experience that was worth waiting for.
It’s been reported that there is massive, growing consumer demand for live events in what’s been called the Roaring Twenties. We’re seeing a reprisal of the 1920’s legendary lust for entertainment and social interaction post the Spanish Flu and World War I. Experts are expecting widespread economic changes, and while there are plenty of opposing viewpoints, there’s one common belief: our desire to socialise will overcome the pandemic. This was proven to be true by Live Nation UK’s surge in UK ticket sales following the publication of the “roadmap” out of lockdown. Its Creamfields and Reading and Leeds festivals sold out their weekends in just 72-hours!
FLive events are coming back, and we’re amped! Not that sharing toasts through screens wasn’t fun (for a while). Thank goodness for apps like TikTok, Snapchat, Houseparty – and if you’re part of the hip, invites-only crowd – the Clubhouse. They kept us all connected during some pretty crazy times. But there’s really nothing like real-life, face-to-face activations to help brands truly connect with consumers and in so doing, build that all-important brand love.
As countries around the world emerge from their varying levels of lockdown, we’re starting to see the re-emergence of face-to-face activations and physical events, and have also done a fair few of our own. Our Because team in New Zealand crushed five in one weekend not too long ago, and every single one was a sensational success (not gloating, just proud). Our Australian contingent has been prepping for months for their live winter events, especially the enormous annual Easter Show for Woolworths which generally welcomes up to 900 000 visitors over two weeks. And now there’s a solid roadmap to lifting restrictions entirely in the UK by June. Needless to say we’re in planning with more than a few of our more forward-thinking clients who have dusted off their live strategies and pushed the ‘go’ button, and we are more than thrilled! Because UK has been chomping at the bit for our turn to once again flex our brand experience muscles. We’ve been keeping a watchful eye on the market, studying changes in consumer behaviour and learning about what really works in the ‘new world’ from our global team. The benefits of working without boarders…
As a live-first agency we’ve always been acutely aware of the effectiveness of on-the-ground campaigns. And we’re not alone, according to research shared by The Drum, 70 per cent of their respondents agreed that ‘virtual events can be exceptionally creative’, but over 80 per cent said they can’t replace live events, and 84 per cent said that engagement at live events is superior.
Customers’ needs have (once again) changed, and brands have to (once again) adapt quickly to this literal change in events, leveraging the post-lockdown behavioural shift if they want to make up for lost live time. It’s anticipated that consumers will have a new appreciation for live experiences – but these events will require thoughtful planning. Yes, we want to surprise and delight brands’ fans with awesome creative and immersive experiences worth sharing, but we also have a responsibility to make them feel comfortable and keep them safe. Here’s what we’ve been focusing on with our partners and clients around the globe:
Don’t treat digital channels or social media like bolt-ons
Harnessing creative technology with live experiences has always been a USP for us, and this was rewarded through the lockdown when we dialled up the digital engagement and pixel-led experiences for our clients. We’ve never treated digital, virtual and physical as separate elements, and our omnichannel focus has paid off: hybrid strategies are now a marketing must-have across the industry. According to industry research by Bizzabo, 97 per cent of event marketers surveyed believe that we will see more hybrid events in 2021 than ever before and that it has to be part of every marketing strategy and budget. It’s reinforced what we’ve always believed, and that’s why we plan all our events with all three areas given the same importance. We relied more on our digital strengths for Covid-smart campaigns, but we’ve returned to a full hybrid strategy for the last few months of planning and prepping. We place equal importance on live, virtual, and digital channels and seamless interaction between the three, and in both traditional retail and e-commerce.
Personalize your approach
We’re huge believers in crafting bespoke experiences and offering personalisation where possible, and we’re not alone. According to the Marketing Insider Group, 9 out of 10 planners use some form of personalisation, and it’s proven to be effective in ramping up event marketing ROI. The trick: finding authentic, effective ways to personalise the experience, and that’s where you need to choose the right methods (and marketing partners).
Build brand love in person
We are believers in the power of turning consumers into fans, and now more than ever due to the effects of the pandemic, consumers are looking for brands they can trust, ones that are authentic and are putting people first. You need to create experiences that earn their trust, and show that your brand is making the right decisions. The good news? Live experiences offer more effective ways of doing just that.
Plug in new tech toys
We love shiny, clever digital tools, and we’re always adding more tech to our toolbox. Thankfully, this geeky fascination has helped us to keep client’s businesses afloat during the lockdown and even helped others nail more market share. One of our favourite tools has been Virtual Atoms, and it has given us an edge over competitors in the experiential space. Trust us when we say this, you will want to use these Virtual Atoms at your next live event.
Covid-consciousness needs to be a golden thread
Regardless of size, the first goal of any event will be to make consumers feel safe and confident in their revelry. Each event will require bespoke handling – there are no one-size-fits-all safety plans. According to research done by American Express, 67% of event organisers reported that their meetings and events policy contained explicit language around safety and security. The craziness of the last year and the fear of another spike requires kid gloves to be used, but the good news: if you get this care and empathy right, you’ll also earn trust and brand love from your consumers (see the last point).
Tick tock, tick tock, we’re watching the clock. In less than 100 days UK brands will be out there, engaging consumers in the actual real world. The excitement is palpable – the nation’s, the brand managers’ and ours. We’re ready to rock. Is your brand?