Two Words: Event Marketing

In an age where teens have the ability to access information in a multitude of media, including the Internet, cell phones, TV, print and more, it has become increasingly difficult for brands to differentiate themselves among one of the most savvy and picky demographics. How can brands stand out from the competition and create a lasting connection with teenagers? Two words: Event Marketing.

Put a sample of a product in a teenager's hand and, sure, if they like it, they are more likely to purchase versus sight unseen. Give that same teen a sample and an experience with the brand and the purchase intent increases even more. Event marketing has taken product sampling and given it 3-D and surround-sound. It gives brands a chance to create an experience based memory.

Event marketing allows a brand to hand-pick the most appropriate venue to reach a very specific consumer and tailor its activation to fit that lifestyle. Teens are like wolves; they travel in large packs. Where you see one indie rock-loving, skinny jean-wearing teen, or young fashionista, you are bound to see dozens or hundreds more. This makes it easy to pick and choose where a brand can tap into, and successfully execute event marketing. However, as event marketing creates a more lasting impression, it is just as easy for that impression to be negative versus positive. There are a few key points to keep in mind when utilizing events to market to teens successfully.



Event marketing gives a brand a lot of freedom to get a little crazy. Teens have become very discerning. The key is to thoroughly research the likes and dislikes of the group of teens you are specifically targeting. For instance, if you are going after 15-year-old baseball playing males, trucker hats with the brand on them as a premium would be a huge miss. Teens can see right through poorly researched and executed brand marketing attempts, especially when it's experiential. There's little room for error.

Don't Hold Back.
If you are going to use the awesome power of event marketing, do it right. Work with a creative team or agency that specializes in youth marketing or, even more specifically, the target market within the teen demographic. If you are sponsoring an event, don't cut corners on execution. If you are executing a buzz or guerilla strategy, make sure you aren't doing something that's been done before ... they will know.

Think Outside the Box.
Even if your brand is at the right location or event, if it's a boring execution, it will be dollars wasted. Beyond authenticity, it needs to be original. Take the 30-foot space you have at an event, and figure out how your key brand attributes can maximize that space in a non-traditional way. Find one word that best describes your product and free associate. Sometimes the best promotion of a product and its key attributes is not the most obvious one. Having the ability to create an experience with the brand broadens the potential ways of carrying out the messaging.

Event marketing has truly opened up a world of opportunity when marketing to the teen demographic. It is one of the few avenues of marketing that gives you the opportunity to provide a tangible, experiential memory. When done properly, event marketing can give your brand that little something extra that translates into purchase intent and sales.

1 comment about "Two Words: Event Marketing ".
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  1. paul myers, December 17, 2009 at 8:36 p.m.

    Great post Lauren! I couldn't agree more. The problem is that many brands think they are already including "event marketing" in their mix. Unfortunately, those brands are not activating their "event marketing" programs properly.

    For example, I recently attended an event. Actually, my first Monster Jam event. One of the event sponsors, who shall remain nameless, probably considers their "sponsorship" of this event series to be a complete "event marketing" strategy because part of the sponsorship fee they pay goes towards activating said sponsorship on-site at these particular events. Unfortunately, the event production company is apparently not schooled in "activation". Because, although this company had a branded tent placed inside the event's "festival village" or "pit party" the "brand ambassadors" (whom were probably hired by the event production company rather than a marketing company) were handing out branded bottle openers to event attendees.

    The kicker is that the brand sponsoring the event is a QSR brand. Their business does not offer any sort of product that requires the use of a bottle opener. The closest they get to needing a bottle opener is their fountain drinks. Plus, the attendee demographics of this event consists of little kids (who love Monster Trucks) and their parents who were attending because the kids needed a ride and supervision while at the event.

    Bottom line, I'm still trying to understand how a branded bottle opener distributed to a crowd comprised mostly of persons who are too young to drink beer would possibly drive traffic, let alone brand recognition, back to this QSR client?

    The real sad part is that I see this happen all the time. Unfortunately, brands are not aware of agencies like mine or like Fuse. Therefore, they go with what or who they know when they should take at least the same amount of time they dedicate to allocating their marketing budgets to research and engage partners who can activate their marketing initiatives. It's not always the bigger agencies that know how to reach skateboarders, urban or emo-punk youth.

    Those agencies whom need help in targeting niche audience segments should also do their homework and partner with agencies who participate in these youth lifestyles.

    Maybe then we will see more authentic, credible and ultimately effective event marketing rather than empty booths at events like the X-Games?

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