Our Marketing Blog

Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.

Spread the Word: Creating Shareable Experiences

First, to be clear, your event does need an iPad (or an android tablet or many smartphones) to be successful. Your activation needs to keep people connected to the digital world at-large to extend reach beyond the physical footprint. Social and mobile devices enable people to talk, share, and tell their friends how cool they are for participating in your awesome brand activation. Whether people are tweeting, checking-in, vine-ing or instagramming on their own or being strongly persuaded by cheerful Brand Ambassadors, people sharing info about your activation is good. You're smart, so you know that social sharing creates buzz. But, you want that buzz to be sustained and turn event goers into long-term customers' and ultimately brand evangelists. So, how can you turn that moment-in-time picture or tweet into a future engagement? A few ways to achieve this goal include: Track, Monitor and Respond to Conversations in Real-time Experiential marketing is about engaging with consumers one-on-one, so why not take that principle online? Create an event-specific hashtag to track the conversation. The ubiquitous hashtag, now also on Facebook, groups all messages about a specific topic into an ad-hoc forum that are searchable and indexed by search engines. So, arm everyone with your hashtag. Think of something clever and relevant, but keep it short and sweet. Make sure to put it on all event signage, staff t-shirts, and collateral so that everyone is informed. With the event hashtag, community managers can easily track the event and respond to attendees via social channels. Answer questions, give suggestions, or launch a contest. By engaging in a two-way conversation, you have the opportunity to build a longer term relationship. Capture Data Now people are actively engaging with your brand at your event and online. This is a great opportunity to understand more about your customers and potential customers. More Facebook likes than Instagram posts? 250 check-ins on Foursquare? Looks like you have a peek into which channels to target for future marketing initiatives. If event-goers are using your social sharing photobooth, you can include opt-in questions to capture email addresses to follow up with them post event. With RFID technology, we are closer to finding out how many people are actually attending your event and engaging on social. Data capture win! So, when creating a branded experience, be sure to bring iPads or mobile devices to capture the necessary data to follow up with attendees post event. While we all may not ultimately define 'success'? in the same terms, as experiential marketers, we can agree that extending the reach of our events is a step in the right direction.

Tech At Bonnaroo

For the last 12 years, thousands of people have flocked to Manchester, TN to soak in the sun, music and good vibes for Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo is one of the largest music festivals in the US and wrapped up its four days of non-stop music and activities this past Sunday. I was fortunate enough to attend the festival again and not only was the event environmentally conscious but technologically advanced as well. The Website The Bonnaroo website serves as a Roo-goer's home base for everything from lineup info, tickets, news, videos and even a post-Roo "lost and found" powered by great-karma.com. This year, Bonnaroo teamed up with PROD4ever and WPEngine to create an appealing website with all of the bells and whistles an event of this size needs to run smoothly. The main site itself was powered by WordPress with WPEngine managing WordPress hosting service - handling everything from support to site speed. The partnershipworked well given the site's size and stature. Mobile App Bonnaroo's website was great both on desktop and on mobile because of its responsive theme. There are however some things that are better suited for a native app and that's where the Bonnaroo app came into play. It mirrored a lot of the content from the website in a more mobile friendly manner and introduced some mobile only features like a trip planner for the drive down. The app was developed and maintained by Nashville-based Aloompa, who seem to have a monopoly on the festival mobile app department. RFID The best tech integration at Bonnaroo the past two years has to be their RFID wristbands. They acted as your ticket into Bonnaroo and they were scanned every time you headed into "Center-roo" to see a show. These wristbands made it a lot harder for people to sneak in or create fake tickets. The wristbands also created a bunch of opportunities for interactive experiences. People were encouraged to register their bracelet and connect it to Facebook and Twitter before the event, so they could use check-in locations at each stage to automatically update their status and hopefully make their friends jealous enough to want to attend next year. Checking-in was as easy as holding your bracelet up to one of the RFID scanners, a single beep and a green light and you were on your way. Some of the stations even allowed you to pose for a quick picture that would get posted automatically. Last year, this social experiment generated over 200,000 check-ins. Still waiting for the numbers on this year. Streaming Video All of the cool festivals are doing it. It's actually what got me interested in attending my first Bonnaroo last year. This year, Bonnaroo teamed up with UStream to broadcast two channels, so you were always in on the action. The high quality footage will be released slowly to the public over the course of the year to garner interest in next year's festival. In addition to UStream, Bonnaroo teamed up with ChirpVision to stream 3 live shows at once to the audiences' mobile devices. All you had to do was download their app, and you could take advantage of their free-wifi and video streaming service. Honorable Mention It's not new or directly connected to Bonnaroo in any way, but boy is it awesome. Most people who attend Bonnaroo drive from whatever part of the county they hail from. This year, we used the Waze app for directions to Bonnaroo instead of our old friend Google Maps. Waze is one of the coolest apps I've used in awhile. It's slowly been building a loyal community of people who report things like traffic, accidents, speed traps, hazards etc. The app can then help you re-route to avoid potential delays and even warn others of upcoming hazards. I can't wait to use this app again for my next road trip. Wrapping It Up Bonnaroo is more than a music festival. It's the perfect blend of music, art and technology to create a truly amazing experience. It is officially safe to leave your phone in your car and forget about it until it's time to pack up Monday morning. With Bonnaroo's high quality videos and easy check-in stations there's no need live life through a small screen when it is happening right in front of you. Bonnaroo is an experiment gone right, and I can't wait for next year.

These are a Few of My Favorite (Internet-Connected) Things

There seems to be a million definitions of 'digital marketing'? floating around, but at the core, this term simply means the use of technology in marketing. Contemporarily, this refers to applications that exist on our laptops, tablets, desktops, televisions, or mobile devices. However, the breadth of technology that this term, 'digital marketing'?, applies to has started to drastically expand. Increasingly, communication can occur on extraordinary platforms, including physical objects. Futurists call this phenomenon, of translating real world objects to the Web, the Internet of Things. Internet-connected devices can now publish data that are measurable by censors or RFID tags. This data could provide better product recommendations, reveal patterns in everyday activities, or be integrated into our social networks. There are so many possibilities'each one creepier than the last! By the year 2020, forecasters expect there to be 22 billion Internet-connect devices. Here's a list of my favorite applications and concepts that are being developed. Acting on your road rage. Bump.com allows fellow drivers, as well as businesses, to connect with a driver through license plate recognition. The technology uses a camera, attached to your own license plate, which is able to very quickly read surrounding plates. Next time you get cut off'or want to ask for the girl's number that you've been trailing in rush hour traffic'you can simply scan their license plate with your smartphone and message them directly, or post a negative rating. This kind of technology could have several other applications (besides just alleviating your road rage) like automated check-ins, or the ability to associate a vehicle with an in-store purchase. Texting with your dishwasher. Although still a concept, innovators have been throwing around ideas about a future kitchen where all your appliances can be communicated with via SMS. One idea takes inventory of your refrigerator, crafting your next grocery list or letting you know when an item's about to expire. Another allows you to bake cookies, remotely. Some suggestions are as simple as allowing for SMS messaging when your coffee is done brewing. Futurists are saying these kinds of functions are actually closer than we think; and predict they will be integrated into our own home appliances in the near future. Remote-controlling your car with your iPhone. A new innovation (by AutoBot) does more than unlock your car doors'it allows you to find your lost car in a parking lot, performs diagnostic checks, and messages family when you've been in an accident. As a data nerd, I think being able to log data about your driving patterns or the health of your car has huge potential. Of course, Google has taken this idea one step further and has begun producing cars that drive themselves. Giving your heart its own IP address. As trust builds, consumers will increasingly start using apps for medical purposes. My favorite example allows you to receive text messages from your own organs. Researchers (at IMEC) have developed something called a BAN (that is, a Body Area Network) which is able to communicate with a user's cell phone, while also updating their doctor. This technology can work with sensors that monitor your heart, your brain, or your muscles, and could be marketed to fitness enthusiasts'?¦ or hypochondriacs? This new kind of healthcare doesn't stop there. Other applications are being testing: like pills (by Novartis) that have censors directly in them that can text you with dosage and timing information. These are just a few of the applications that are being dreamt up by technologists. It's becoming inevitable that objects will start to have identities of their own, be able to tell their own history and be connected to the Web. Devices (such as GPS unites or Internet-connected TVs) have even begun to outpace human subscriptions on both ATT and Verizon networks. It won't be long until status updates from more unexpected objects, like your microwave, start appearing in your News Feed. Entrepreneurs have begun to catch on and are capitalizing on this opportunity. For more information, check out some of these key start-ups in the space. Pachube.com: a platform for tracking real-time data of censored-objects Thingd.com: a 'database of stuff'? Stickybits.com: allows you to form user-generated clouds (threaded conversations of video, photos and text) around physical objects, especially CPGs Itsmyurls.com: generates identifying QR codes (used for resumes, social profiles, etc) Itizen.com: allows you to tag a product or a gift with 'a story'?

Actions Speak Louder than Words or in this Case Opt-ins

For years brands have been using registration systems with opt-in options to receive additional information as pre-requisites to participate in both on- and off-line activities. The goal was to use the information acquired during registration to follow-up with consumers post-activity about the brand's products or services. The information gathered through this process is very helpful and beneficial to brands; however, it also can be flawed. The two major issues facing this type of consumer data collection technology are that consumers tend to fill in false or the bare minimum amount of information. Even if consumers do fill out the registration thoroughly and opt-in for additional information, the actual consumer behavior and trends that a brand is able to interpret out of the brief interaction is very minimal. The U.S. Army and Air Force were running into these same issues, so they decided to turn to their respective experiential marketing agencies to help them better gain information about consumers for more quality interactions post events. The solution was the use of RFID location tracking cards. As consumers came to participate at event areas for both military arms at malls and other event locations, they were handed RFID cards or wristbands. The participants were then allowed to partake in a combination of different games and engagements in the event space designed to replicate fun and exciting activities performed as part of each military arm's active duty. To participate in each activity participants were required to swipe in their RFID item to activate each one. As consumers were enjoying the activities, the event managers were actually using the RFID item to track which activities each consumer went to, how much time they spent at each activity, and how well they did. Then, in real time, recruiters approached the consumers having key information about where the consumer spent the most time and what they were most interested in, which was learned through mapping the consumers activity in the event space. Since the recruiters already had information on what activities peaked the consumer's interest, they were able to have more engaging and quality conversations. The ability to understand consumers' behaviors is key in terms of selling any product including military service. With the ability to use specific consumers' activity to identify points of interest brands can adapt messaging to play off those interests as well as target consumers that they know for sure are already open to the product. Look for behavior mapping technology to be integrated into more event marketing events in the future. Do you have any plans to integrate it in future events?

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