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Know what the Holy Grail of event marketing is? It’s not leads, conversions, bounce rates, or net promoter scores. Instead, it’s creating the kind of engagement that goes beyond your products and excites customers, making them feel like they’re a part of and emotionally invested in a community.
It’s that sense of being part of something that keeps potential attendees returning repeatedly, consuming your content, and telling everyone they know about you and your next event. Increasingly, the key to creating that level of engagement is building and nurturing communities that help turn regular customers into your very own brand ambassadors and loyal customers.
When thoughtfully designed, event marketing strategies can be incredibly effective in growing brand awareness, driving loyalty, gaining insights, and building deeper customer relationships. Those customer relationships increase lifetime value, meaning more product sales and revenue.
While there’s no single formula for a thriving brand community, the best have a few elements in common.
- give customers a compelling reason to join,
- ensure that doing so is worth their time,
- and make it easy for them to get their friends and family involved.
Below, we look at ten examples of prominent event marketing strategies and highlight some of the features that make them successful.
What is Event Marketing?
Event marketing, or experiential marketing, is a strategic marketing strategy that allows customers to experience their favorite brands first-hand. Building that kind of emotional connection in an increasingly digital world can increase revenue, customer loyalty, and brand awareness.
A good event marketing plan takes its target audience into account and uses field activations, retail pop-ups, classes, and even tours and tastings to invite their event attendees to a personalized experience built with them in mind. After all, who wouldn’t want to drink Anchor Brewery’s Steam Beer after touring the brewery with their family?
When you use an event marketing plan, you’re weaving yourself into the fabric of your customers’ lives. You become a household name not just from awareness but from a connection. After all, in-person events can let customers learn from you rather than hear about you online.
Event Marketing Programs: Class Examples
Michael’s Event Marketing: The Maker Community
While arts and crafts retailer Michaels may be best known for its hot glue guns, paints, and beading supplies, for those in its Maker community, the brand is about so much more. At the center of that community is an array of in-person and online classes that are a source of knowledge, inspiration, and fun for more than 400,000 customers.
Working with AnyRoad, Michaels has refined and expanded its brand community, reaping numerous benefits. For customers, those benefits include increased access to classes tailored to their interests. When the time came to move away from virtual events and back to an actual class, they were ready with new insights for how to cater to their customers better.
Meanwhile, for Michaels, the benefits of their event marketing strategies spanned from harvesting a treasure trove of customer insights to expanding their brand reach and streamlining their operations and overhead.
King Arthur Baking Company’s Event Marketing: Baking School
King Arthur Baking Company’s free baking school is an excellent example for event marketers. Offered virtually and in person, there are classes for everyone from novices to professional bakers. And while King Arthur flour is a critical ingredient in every scone, biscuit, and pastry recipe, that’s not the point.
Instead, the goal is to teach people how to do something they love, connect them to a community of others who share the same interest, and indirectly create positive associations with the brand through an event marketing strategy.
Learning how to bake is compelling and a skill people want to brag about. King Arthur’s target audience bakes for friends, family, and more. All those compliments mean King Arthur’s Baking School is brought up at any dinner table with one of their newly minted bakers. This hits two touchpoints: learning to bake and eating baked goods.
Sephora’s Event Marketing: Beauty Playgrounds
According to French beauty retailer Sephora, 75 percent of engagement is emotion-driven. The emotions their marketing professionals and event planners are most interested in are happiness, trust, surprise, delight, anticipation, and pride.
To tap into those emotions, it thinks of its brick-and-mortar locations as beauty playgrounds that feature engaging LED displays, trendy music, and highly manicured aisles with thousands of products for shoppers to test. That way, their actual event is hosted in a space that elevates their brand to a sensory level.
Sephora has also focused on building a beauty community that allows customers to come together, ask questions, get recommendations, and post inspirational photos. Not only has the community helped drive emotional engagement, but it’s also been a rich source of insights into the types of products customers are most interested in.
Event Marketing Strategy: Digital Brand Community Examples
LuluLemon’s Brand Community Marketing: #Thesweatlife
Athletic apparel store LuluLemon has recently enjoyed tremendous success, largely thanks to its community-based retail model. Built around a new member loyalty program, their model includes multiple experiential stores designed to ignite a community committed to living #thesweatlife. This hashtag has quickly come to embody a movement on social media that resonates with its target audience.
LuluLemon’s event marketing is unique because they blend traditional retail with fitness studios for customers to work out in and fuel bars where they can purchase healthy snacks. Customers can also try out select items in their classes before deciding whether or not to buy.
By creating a broad community of people committed to fitness, both online and in their experiential stores, LuluLemon has found a way to transform itself from a simple apparel retailer into a highly successful lifestyle brand.
LEGO Brand Community and Event Marketing: LEGO Ideas Community
The only thing kids (and quite a few adults) love more than building random stuff out of LEGOs is getting to build exactly what they want out of their LEGOs.
Understanding the drive of their target audience, the company developed the LEGO Ideas Community, an online forum where customers can submit their ideas for new LEGO sets. What makes it so effective is that it empowers customers to get what they want while helping drive new product ideation.
The forum allows customers to find and engage with other LEGO superfans, making the appeal more universal and less location-specific. Customers can connect and feel they have a stake in one of their favorite brands.
Coca-Cola Event Marketing: Share a Coke
Coca-Cola is one of the best-known brands in the world, with a staggering 1.9 billion servings consumed worldwide daily. And while it’s ubiquitous, that doesn’t exempt the brand from finding fresh and innovative marketing strategies to remain relevant, particularly among younger consumers. To help address this issue, the company launched its “Share a Coke” campaign.
At face value, the campaign was simple enough. The company swapped out the branding on bottles and cans with people’s names, inviting consumers to share a Coke with [insert the name of your friend or family member].
By personalizing its bottles and cans in this way, Coke created a viral campaign and brand community that drove tremendous engagement for its key performance indicators and took on a life of its own in the 80 markets where it ran. The result was billions of additional bottles and cans sold and a renewed love for the brand.
Field Activation Marketing Examples
JustEgg’s Field and Event Marketing: Grocery Activation
JUST Egg, a plant-based egg made by Eat Just, learned through market research that they had a significant barrier to getting their target audience to try their product. There was hesitation about whether a plant-based egg could taste as good or better than one from a chicken. Yet, 90% of consumers who taste the product go on to buy it.
Knowing that opportunities to get consumers to taste the product required planning and skilled execution, the company invested in a field and event marketing program and hired experienced event marketer Adrian Santos to build it from scratch. Heading into 2022, Adrian and his team planned 300 events nationwide to double the number of eggs in mouths every quarter.
This activation is for marketing professionals and event planners looking to get feedback about products and spread the word. Once people try it, they’ll likely buy it on their own. The increased demand for sustainable products in stores was great timing for the brand and its marketing efforts.
In fact, JustEgg could use this feedback in real-time to pivot when they attended a festival for their field activation strategy. Using feedback from previous events and the day before, they realized they were watering down their eggs too much! Once they changed their formula, they got much better feedback from consumers.
Nike Event Marketing: Run Club
To help motivate its customers to achieve their fitness goals, Nike introduced its Run Club app, which offers guided runs with a pre-recorded coach who gives encouragement and practical advice.
This is a great example of when virtual events meet real-life community building! By creating an event website or app and encouraging meet-ups, you create a brand community that’s perfect for sustained loyalty.
Featuring tools like a GPS tracker so that runners can keep tabs on how far they’ve gone, the app helps users meet their fitness goals when they are on their run while also pointing them to an array of in-store activities they can participate in when they’re looking for some fellowship.
Perhaps most impressive is that the app, ranked as high as number 12 in the App Store, helps people become better runners and forges a powerful connection between that experience and the brand itself as part of the event marketing process.
The North Face Event Marketing: Sponsorships
The North Face is a brand known for sustainability and a fierce passion for the outdoors, sponsoring Olympic ski teams and expeditions worldwide. Their brand name is linked with adventure, but how do you reach the everyday target audience with that elevated impact?
Easy: they bring that spirit into their communities.
The North Face sponsors local hikes, climbs, races, and even more outdoor events wherever they have stores. They aim to “bring The North Face to your next adventure.” The Explore Fund has been running since 2010 and beyond, and they support nonprofit organizations that increase access to exploration. They’ve also begun to fund women in film as part of this initiative.
Much like the Nike Run App, this creates communities through event marketing and field activation, mainly among young people. It is doing good, bringing outdoor adventure to underserved communities, and creating opportunities for lifelong brand ambassadors.
Event Marketing is Vital for Building Brand Loyalty with Event Attendees
Great companies have long been known for their great products. Going forward, however, the very best companies will also be known for the communities they build to bring like-minded customers together, drive engagement, and seal their loyalty for the long term.
Event Marketing Strategies We Mention
To summarize, here are some of the best brand communities and event experience programs to amplify your attendee journey and deliver success on your next marketing plan.
- In-store or virtual event classes
- Well-placed activations from trade shows to grocery stores
- Sponsoring communities near you for their next event
- Sensory forward event planning at a brand home
- Digital marketing through online forums, virtual events, and social media
You saw ten examples for yourself. Now, get started and build your brand community with our free guide.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Scheduling Software Needs
Before researching online booking systems, evaluating your business needs is essential. After all, you don’t want to overspend on bells and whistles when you only need an online form. For newer events looking to scale, a more sophisticated system might be the goal but not the starting point.
Consider the type and size of your business, the nature of your services, and the volume of transactions you handle. For instance, if you run tours and tastings, you should look at solutions meant for high-volume enterprises that can include add-on shirts, beer steins, and more.
Scheduling Software Flowchart
We made a helpful flowchart to help you decide if you’re ready to invest fully in online bookings or look into a free scheduling app, like Google Forms, as a better starting point.
As someone trying to make smart investment decisions, you don’t want to buy a booking and ticketing solution that doesn’t meet your needs. Use our guided questions to determine where you are in your investment journey.
2. Compare Booking Page Features and Pricing
Booking Page Features
Once you have a clear idea of your business needs, you can compare online booking systems that meet your criteria. Have a list of your most essential needs and what would be nice for you to have. Some features you should consider including on your list include:
- Website integration
- Branded booking page
- Configurability to match your brand
- Payment processing and add-on sales
- Automated reminders
- Automatic data analysis
- Feedback collection and analysis
Rank these on a scale of one to ten, with one being the least important and ten being the most important. That way, if you need to sacrifice a feature for a must-have, you’ll know exactly what you can do away with and what you can’t do without.
Scheduling Software Pricing
Besides shopping around for the right features, factor pricing into your decision. You want to use the scheduling software that gives you the best return on investment. So don't choose to sign up for the most expensive or cheapest option right off the bat — many times, you will need to look into more than just pricing on the surface.