Perhaps the biggest industry event of the year is the annual Experiential Marketing Summit, which is hosted by Event Marketer. This year’s event, which took place between May 3rd and 5th, brought nearly 2,000 marketing professionals together to discuss all things experiential. The information covered is valuable to both brands and agencies that are hoping to make a splash with experiential marketing events in the future. Did you miss out on this event? Don’t worry—we’ve rounded up some of the major themes that emerged during this year’s three-day conference:

Reinvention

A number of different speakers at the event discussed the importance of reinvention, including executives from IBM and American Express. These speakers stressed that brands will struggle to stay relevant if they don’t continue to reinvent themselves to adjust to changes in consumer demand. One brand that does this brilliantly is Adobe. This software company allows customers to redesign their logo and packaging in order to stay relevant.

Another brand that decided it was time for a change is AOL. The brand completely revamped their annual NewFronts event in 2016 in order to “inject some fun” back into the process of introducing industry professionals and consumers to new content. In the past, the event featured industry executives on a stage promoting new programming and introducing sizzle reels. But in 2016, AOL took the event to the streets and allowed consumers and professionals to “choose their own adventure” by moving freely throughout the event and choosing which brands they wanted to interact with.

You don’t have to completely reinvent your brand in order to get noticed, but you should think of changes that you can implement to make your brand appear more fresh and relevant.

Social Media

It would be hard to find a marketing event that doesn’t thoroughly discuss social media, so of course, this was a major theme at this year’s conference. One social media platform that was discussed at great lengths was Instagram. Stacy Mackler and Andrew Barlow, two executives at Lancome, spoke about the importance of planning events with Instagram in mind. If you want consumers to talk about your events on Instagram, create an experience that they will want to capture and share with their followers.

Seems simple, right? If it was, then every brand would be doing it. Mackler and Barlow showed the audience how every inch of a recent Lancome event was designed with Instagram in mind. Attendees could stop and pose in front of a breathtaking flower arch or snap a shot with some of the small decorative desserts. Most importantly, the products also got a lot of attention because they were placed under the perfect lighting and surrounded by small floral arrangements.

Guests were so impressed with the beauty of the event that they couldn’t wait to snap photos and take videos to share on Instagram. By designing with Instagram in mind, Lancome was able to generate a significant amount of buzz on social media.

Working With Influencers

Gone are the days where brands should simply ask influencers to promote their products on social media. According to the experts at the conference, brands must get influencers more involved in order to make an impact. One example of an experiential marketing event that successfully used influencers is SyFy’s college campus tour. SyFy hosted experiential marketing events on five different campuses to drum up interest around a new show, The Magicians. The events gave college students the opportunity to screen an episode of the show, but that wasn’t the only reason why college students showed up. Each event was hosted and promoted by a local social media influencer with a huge following. By attending the event, guests could mix and mingle with the influencer while also connecting with the SyFy brand.

The candy brand Trolli also saw success when it decided to pair with NBA star, James Harden. Instead of simply posting a Trolli ad on Instagram, Harden agreed to be a part of the company’s Beardsketball campaign. The Beardsketball game featured a basketball hoop that was designed to look similar to Harden’s signature beard. Attendees had the opportunity to try to shoot hoops through the basket, but if they missed, Harden’s image on the basketball board would begin smack talking them. While playing the game, guests were also asked to wear Snapchat Spectacles that delivered branded content directly to the targeted audience. The Beardsketball campaign was such a huge success that the brand took it on the road—and Harden was a frequent guest at the events. Both of these examples show the level of involvement that influencers must commit to in order to ensure the experiential marketing activation is a success.

Disconnect to Connect

Technology plays an important role in many experiential marketing events, but many brands have found that they need to disconnect from the digital world in order to connect with consumers. American Greetings pulled this off by giving event attendees the opportunity to choose a free greeting card, write a personalized message inside it, and drop it in a mailbox to ship it to a loved one. The brand could have gone a completely different route by incorporating cutting edge technologies that allowed consumers to design their own cards and send everything digitally, but they went a much more simplistic route and it paid off.

Of course, disconnecting completely won’t be right for every brand. But, if you do decide to pull back from technology, make sure that you pay close attention to detail during the planning process. You will need to create an environment that is exciting and encourages connectivity without relying so heavily on the “wow” factor of technology.

Are you ready to plan an experiential marketing event? Contact Factory 360 to connect with a team of experts who can guide you through every step of the experiential marketing process.

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