Event Says

Events: why they usually mean nothing – part one

The problem…

Events. Experiential. Experience marketing. Only one thing is clear, which is: Not a damn thing is clear. Our industry is confused, and rightfully so.

Fran Elliott, director of Experiential and Events at Momentum Worldwide.

Fran Elliott, director of Experiential and Events at Momentum Worldwide.

What does a client mean when they say they’re looking for a “consumer event?” Do they mean a large, annual expo-type activation like the Ideal Home Show? Or, maybe they mean a roadshow going live at a number of shopping centres nationwide? Both are aimed at consumers, and both are technically events, but are entirely different beasts.

In the context of shopper, an event can entail a seasonal, in-store promotion like “Mother and Baby” POS campaigns in the Big Four. Is a secret pop-up with small-yet-exquisite touch points and an intimate guest list also an event? Is the Super Bowl an event? Are business conferences events?

Oh, and what’s the difference between an event and experiential? Is there a real difference between the two terms, or is “experiential” an interchangeable term used by people who want to sound smart at meetings?

And brand marketers, when your agencies use these terms, are they operating by the same definition as you? Is their definition grander than yours, or more limited? And when faced with discrepancy in that definition, does ANYONE address the elephant in the room—faced with the fear that they might look like the person who doesn’t understand experiential?

Herein lays one of the biggest challenges faced by our industry and ANY business looking to capitalise on the power of live, human interaction (which is to say, EVERY BRAND): the disparate, varied use and misunderstanding of these words.

This isn’t just about semantics. This is about making events mean something, maybe for the first time in the history of your brand. And what’s at stake is the power of live experience which, according to global Momentum research, drives 65% of consumers to recommend brands and 59% to buy.

Why definition is important for brands

Definition empowers marketers to sharpen up their rosters, and ensure that they know what they’re getting when agencies are briefed. If the industry establishes clear definitions of each of its sub-sections, clients will have a clearer understanding of whom the experts actually are in these areas, and place their business accordingly.

They’ll know what they can expect, and from whom they can truly expect the best.

Yes, it is typically part of a creative team’s remit to determine the best response to a brief, but the clients’ expectations (and interpretations) of the discipline need to be streamlined in order to be best managed.

Why definition is important for agencies

Can we all claim to be experts in an area that lacks a consistent definition? Not really. We must establish a standardised terminology before we can claim expertise, and in doing this, we all get to bask in the glow of a new and improved industry.

Fran Elliott is director of Experiential and Events at Momentum Worldwide. Her second guest blog ‘Events: why they usually mean nothing – The Solution’ will follow next week.