I’ve barely unpacked from back-to-back work trips to Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS) and the amazing C2 Montréal conference (see tons of jaw-dropping event photos in this Bizbash article). Both events were produced very differently however it was fun to see what they had in common and spend time with some of our clients and new friends. I personally was re-inspired so I wanted to share my key takeaways as soon as possible.

As a creative events professional and the owner of a specialized boutique events agency, I already knew about many of the current industry trends and best practices that were discussed. But the conference was a great reminder of how events are so much more than just meetings and what they need to have in order to truly impact brand success.

Here are my top six takeaways from the last two weeks. And if you want to know more, talk to Red Velvet Events about how we can leverage these strategies to take your brand to the next level.

1. THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY

Let’s face it: We’re in the golden age of FOMO. If you have any sort of social media presence, you know that we live in an experience economy. People look for Instagrammable moments in their daily lives, and even more so at events. So how does that translate into your event and its success?

First of all, don’t make the big mistake a lot of companies are making right now: just throwing an experience out there without being intentional. Photo booths and props are fine, but what’s going to have a lot more impact is uncovering the purpose and goal of your event activation and working to encompass that in a visual, experiential way. For example, are you trying to sell more products, launch a new service, or boost team morale? Whatever your goal is, find a way to tie the experience back to the event purpose as well as your company’s purpose in order to accomplish that goal.

The truth is, people are seeking entertainment and visual experiences in every aspect of their lives, from shopping to entertainment to, yes, work. Run-of-the-mill meetings aren’t successful anymore unless they’re mandated; and even then, companies are questioning whether they should spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to send employees to a conference they’ll forget about as soon as they’re back at their desks.

If your brand wants to thrive, seek out festivalization experiences, which have become very popular for B2B and B2C events. Give attendees an experience they’ve always been curious about. Again, just make sure you work intentionally and keep coming back to your purpose.

2. METRICS

Everyone knows the saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same goes for our industry: If you hold an event and don’t know if it was successful, did it even happen?

You need to be able to calculate your return on investment (ROI) for your event in a thoughtful and intentional manner. It’s absolutely essential to determine which parts of the event impacted your brand, what worked, and what didn’t.
This is definitely easier said than done, but that’s why we’re here! At Red Velvet Events, we completely understand how essential metrics are to ensuring event success. Defining and calculating these metrics has become second nature to us. If you want to delve even deeper into your event ROI data, we’re well-connected with partners that can help you really dig into your metrics and uncover invaluable information.

Talk to us today about what a difference measuring event success can mean for your long-term brand success.

3. STORYTELLING

As we discussed in a previous post about one of our award-nominated events, visual storytelling is an essential part of any successful event today. It ties in closely to brand purpose, furthering the goal of your event while also creating an unforgettable experience for attendees.

When we’re designing an event program, we do so in a way that lets people easily retell the story through social media and makes them excited to share it with everyone they know. After all, your customers are your best advocates. At the right event, they’ll be excited to be your brand ambassadors. And when you see your event growing a following organically on social media, that’s one more way to measure your event success.

4. COMMUNITY

One common pattern of conferences that we’ve noticed – especially at large tech conferences – is the headline act that wraps up the experience. It’s not uncommon to see enormous headliners like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake or Maroon 5 performing in these shows. What IS surprising is how many attendees are willing to spend thousands of dollars to fly to and attend these conferences on their own dime if their employers won’t pay for their registration.

This level of dedication and loyalty got me thinking about the kinds of communities that truly successful events can create. Many people see them almost like a reunion where they can catch up with their colleagues and peers, and have the opportunity to enjoy an amazing show together at the end. Can you imagine how incredible it would be if your brand was able to create and sustain a community like this, one where customers come back year after year to learn about your products and connect with like-minded folks? In other words, how much could it impact your organization if your event provided content AND community?

I’ve noticed that, on average, conferences have a life cycle. After about eight years of success, you have to reinvigorate things to keep your community interested and coming back. But this is exactly why working with a creative agency can give you a leg up, especially if you’re a first-time conference organizer. Red Velvet Events can help you identify and define your community, and ensure your conferences always get tied back to your brand’s purpose, year after year.

5. INVESTMENT

Now comes the hard part.

All of the services and insights I’ve mentioned above are doable and scalable for any conference or event. But they come with a price tag.

This is why it’s crucial to see conferences as an investment in your brand’s success. The upfront cost – especially for first-time organizers – can be a short-term pain, but it can lead to tremendous long-term gain. Successful annual conferences may take time to build loyalty and momentum (again, think of the eight-year life cycle); and if your brand wants to put together a new yearly event, you want to get things started on the right foot by building momentum and positive word-of-mouth.

Ultimately, you need to consider what’s going to move your band closer to success. Holding the same event every year might be cheaper, but if you don’t know which parts of it work and you’re not seeing a lot of new clients or new sales initiatives, is it really worth it?

6. THE EVENT WHISPERERS

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry – you’re not alone. That’s exactly why Red Velvet Events is here to help you with every part of the event planning and creation process.

At C2, I kept asking myself about my own company’s purpose. The more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to one thing: If I had to sum up our overall purpose in just a few words, I’d describe it as “event whisperers.” When a brand comes to us with a problem or doesn’t know where to start with a program, we fix everything for them – and we love it!

As much as I enjoyed the conference and getting to know my colleagues from all over the world, I couldn’t wait to get back to Austin and get back to work with my team. I went to Las Vegas and Montréal to be inspired, and I enjoyed every second of both conferences. Attending EMS and C2 re-emphasized why I love what I do and reminded me of how effective my team is at event whispering during every stage of the game.

Building a brand’s success through conferences does not happen overnight, but it absolutely does happen – and we’re here to make it happen for you. Get started by reaching out to our team of event whisperers today!