Choosing the correct venue for your experiential marketing event can make or break your activation. There are so many questions brands must ask themselves when picking a location: Can I reach my target audience there? Will I get enough foot traffic to meet my engagement goals? Is an expensive venue really worth the price, or will it push me over budget without offering a huge return?

As you start thinking about where you should have your experiential marketing event, we advise approaching the question from two angles. First, you should think about the type of venue you’d like for your activation. Then you should think through several important qualities you need in a venue.

Let’s start with the former. Here are the types of venues that make sense for experiential marketing:

  • Festivals, fairs, conferences, trade shows and other events that are already taking place. This is one of the most common venues for experiential marketing because the organizers have already done some of the hard work for you: They’ve booked a location and invited a bunch of consumers who might be interested in your products or services. Events such as these are a natural fit for experiential marketing because people come to them looking for goods, services, ideas and interactions with other people.
  • Close to an organized event. Say you’d like to be at a major event like a music festival or fashion show, but you simply can’t afford to buy a booth. Here’s a trick: Find a way to set up nearby instead. Plan an experiential marketing activation at the airport, train station or on a party bus. Set up your event in a nearby hotel where lots of attendees will be staying.
  • Stand-alone venue. If you want your experiential marketing activation to be all about you, you’ll want to find a venue where no one else is trying to market similar products or services to the public. If you organize your event at a stand-alone venues such as a park, other public gathering space, restaurant, hotel or field in the middle of nowhere, expect there to be more work involved. You may have to apply for permits and pay the associated fees, work with equipment rental companies to bring in everything you need, and handle publicity and outreach. However, the payoff can also be much greater.
  • One or more of your stores or offices. Why go anywhere at all? Maybe the best place to have an experiential marketing activation is at your stores or offices. When TD Bank hosted a hugely popular thank you event for consumers, they gave out rewards at ATM machines in various branches.
  • A partner’s location. Hosting an experiential marketing event at a partnering company’s venue can be a great way to reach your audience and reward that business. Factory 360 recently planned a series of cross-promotional experiential marketing activations designed to let consumers know they can use PayPal at Jamba Juice and other brick and mortar stores. The events took place at various Jamba Juice stores across the country so consumers could immediately try out this convenient service.

Once you’ve identified the type of venue you need, it’s time to get more specific. Which festival or trade show is the best place for your brand to set up a booth? Which partners are the best hosts for your sampling event, customer appreciation day or sales manager meeting? Here are some specific things you should keep in mind when choosing a venue.

  • Reaches your target audience. We’ve mentioned this several times, but it bears repeating: You want a venue that will give you access to your target audience. If you’re considering a fair or festival, they should able to give you some sort of demographic information about their audience. If you’re considering a stand-alone venue, it should be in a neighborhood or town with a high percentage of people who fit your target demographic.
  • Substantial foot traffic. The more people who attend the event, the more opportunities you have to interact with consumers. Make sure any organized event can demonstrate a track record of high attendance. If you’ll collaborate with a partner for an event, ask them for details on which stores see the most customers each day.
  • Can fulfill your space/technical requirements. Figure out what resources your activation will require (space, power, water, etc.), then make sure the space can meet them. You don’t want to put a deposit down at a rural fairgrounds only to discover they don’t have cell phone service, wireless Internet access or something else that’s critical to the success of your event.
  • Access to earned and new media. One of the great things about large organized events is that they’re more likely to draw news media, bloggers, influencers and other people who can give your company exposure. Research who wrote about the event in previous years to determine what news organizations sent reporters or which influencers blogged about the event.
  • Meets multiple goals. It’s always good to get more bang for your buck. Is there a way you can meet multiple goals with one experiential marketing event? Does hosting an activation at a partner’s venue give you an excuse to network with their executives and pitch them on purchasing more goods and services from you? Will placing your activation in Washington double as an excuse for the company president to make some lobbying trips? If you need the venue for an extra day for setup and tear down, can you host some VIP events in some small part of them? Using a venue in multiple ways can extend the effectiveness of your event.
  • It’s hard to know whether attending an event or setting up at a certain venue is really worth it until you’ve tried it once. But there are ways you can estimate whether you’ll get a good return on your investment. Look at similar festivals and compare square footage costs. Determine the number of target consumers you think you can reach, then divide that by the rental amount to get a cost per person touched.

Another way to determine if a venue is really worth the cost is to contact Factory 360. We have substantial experience selecting venues for clients, so we have a pretty good idea of whether a venue is affordable or overpriced. Our agency can also help you with all other aspects of venue selection, from determining the type of venue you need from helping you think through all the nitty-gritty details of setting up at that venue. Contact us today to learn how our award-winning experiential marketing agency can help you achieve your goals.

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