You invest a lot of money, time, and energy into your events and sponsorship strategy. Whether it's the U.S. Open, a music tour, or your own private conference, your brand sits center stage while the audience you most value stands in judgment. Did your brand elevate the experience? Did it stay out of the spotlight when it was supposed to? Did it create the spotlight when there needed to be one?
It may be time to go beyond the Foursquare check-in and the QR code in order to meet your brands' aspirations at events. By taking advantage of mobile engagement, you can make personal and delightful connections with the audience. Here are six rules for using mobile marketing at events.
Activate mobile engagement before, during, and after
No pre-event promotion equals low awareness and also shows your own lack of enthusiasm for connecting with the audience. Promote your mobile activities across all platforms and outdoor ad campaigns, social media sites, your smartphone applications, at point of sale, and in-venue signage. Make your biggest mobile activation at the event itself. Finally, your post-event messaging should be timely and relevant -- commemorative wallpapers, mobile coupons, feedback polls, thank-you messages, and offers to stay connected in the future are all great options to help take advantage of the time when the audience is still connected to the event's excitement.
Focus on the point of inspiration
The event itself is the culmination of a lot of effort, money, and hard work, and nothing is going to change that about event marketing in the future. The event is the point of inspiration. It's when your audience finally gets to associate your brand with something live and in-person, or associated with a lifestyle they live or love. Mobile engagement has the power to connect the audience to your brand when they are most excited, most connected, and most interested. On the national broadcast of the Country Music Awards this year, more than 100,000 people used their mobile phone in just 15 seconds to claim a guitar signed by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. What if that moment was brought to the audience by your brand? Your brand can move beyond the sign on the wall or the brochures at the booth. The mobile phone takes aim at the point of inspiration like no other medium.
Get the audience involved
Umphrey's McGee, a Chicago based jam-band, has constructed entire concerts around the audience's use of their mobile phones to communicate with the band in real-time. They understand that their fans always have something to say, and give them a chance to do it. Sprint is allowing fans of "The Voice" tour this summer to vote for the encore song in real-time. Taylor Swift gives her audience a chance to prove their trivia knowledge of their favorite musician at every show. At the Coca-Cola 600 in May, Nascar fans could send messages to their families or drivers wishing them luck. Michael Dell had his global sales conference attendees send pledges for the future into a wall using their mobile phones. Remember all that talk about "user generated content" online? People at events like to express themselves there too. Your brand can be the platform to facilitate it.
Go beyond the check-in
Creating a few well-constructed mobile engagement activities can have an incredible impact on your brand's awareness and a huge impact on how the audience perceives your role at the event. There are a few no-brainer activations you can be doing like QR codes, the "check-in," and a "text for more information," but checking the box on mobile is not connecting with your audience at the point of inspiration. One or two nicely promoted, highly creative mobile engagement campaigns can be breathtaking. Combined with easy-to-understand mobile instructions and clear calls-to-action (on-stage screens, in-venue signage, verbal calls-to-action from the stage, etc.), your audience will be looking for more things to do with their mobile phones connected to your brand.
Trust is key
Trust is critical for making mobile marketing successful for your brand. Always gain proper permissions and only offer relevant, timely, and valuable content that your audience is interested in. By requiring the consumer to take additional action to join, you ensure a higher percentage of qualified and loyal supporters. Be forthright about quiet hours, support, or how to opt-out. Make it clear to consumers that texting "STOP," or "HELP," will end their communication with you, and be able to direct them to a world-class support center for more information or answers. Allow the audience to tell you when, and how they want to be contacted on their mobile phones.
Take home the data
Even wondered how effective your event or sponsorship marketing strategy really is? Do you know if some events or sponsorships are better than others? Do you know if TV, radio, or print is a more effective way to drive attendance? Are you sure everyone is paying attention to your message while they are at the event? Do you know if you are entertaining mostly new customers or your most loyal ones? Did the audience stay connected with your brand once the event was over? Mobile engagement is the best and most affordable way for you to get immediate answers to these questions. By incorporating mobile engagement into how your think about your events, sponsorships, and advertising, you can start to better understand which half of your marketing budget is really working.
Mobile engagement can serve as the most powerful communication method for your brand at an event, and enrich your audience's overall experience. By following these six rules for using mobile marketing at events, you'll be on a fast track to giving your brand the center stage it deserves.
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