The power and potential of event marketing

Elliott Kerr is the founder and president of The Landmark Group, an international sport and special event marketing company.The use of an event to reach a set of marketing and sales objectives has been a strategy employed by business for decades.It...

Elliott Kerr is the founder and president of The Landmark Group, an international sport and special event marketing company.

The use of an event to reach a set of marketing and sales objectives has been a strategy employed by business for decades.

It has been only in the last few years, however, that Canadian companies have come to fully realize the enormous power – and potential – of event marketing.

Full impact results

Planned and targetted well, event marketing can deliver full impact results. The consumer is constantly being bombarded by commercial messages through traditional advertising – newspapers, magazines, tv and radio.

Event marketing provides a chance to do something different to get the attention of the consumer.

The fragmentation of the tv market, brought about by the domestic growth of specialty and cable channels, has stimulated the growth of event marketing. It has become a logical alternative to modern mass media.

Given rising media costs and increasing commercial clutter, corporations are being forced to look at more effective ways to reach their target audience.

Marketing through events can prove to be a cost-effective way to communicate with a variety of people, including the consumer, trade, sales representatives and employees.

Before the search for an event or activity to sponsor, specific business goals must be established that are compatible with your company’s marketing strategy.

Establish goals

Establishing goals and objectives up front puts you in a far better position to negotiate a sponsorship package or create a new event that works for you and your budget.

Critical to the success of any event is the development of a strategic plan to project expectation in year one, two and three. Pre- and post-evaluation is also an important part of the planning process.

It is important to safeguard against having the success of an event measured in unrealistic terms. All the partners in any proposed event should have a clear understanding of their respective goals and objectives in order to meet the expectations of all interested parties.

What can event marketing do for your company?

Most marketing expenditures are made for a specific reason. Event marketing, however, has the advantage of being able to address a number of corporate objectives.

For example, through association, a company selling a high-end product or service can convey an upscale image to the high-income demographic group attracted to a particular event.

Through the event, the sponsor can convey an image to which the consumer can relate and this relationship would, over time, translate into business.

Not all companies get involved in event marketing to sell product. Many organizations use events to communicate a corporate philosophy or social responsibility. This point reinforces the importance of knowing what event you are buying/creating, and why.

Event marketing can give the sponsoring company the chance to get face to face with key customers, strengthening relationships, which can lead to increased sales.

Social venues

Such valuable interaction can take place in the hospitality suite of an international cultural event, or on the golf course of a company-sponsored game.

Employee and sales incentive programs are another way to leverage involvement in a specific event. Attending a high profile event can be used as incentive for sales representatives and employees. Creating a special cross-promotion can serve to reinforce the company’s commitment to a particular venture and develop a sense of pride among employees and salesforce.

You do not have to be a large corporation to use event marketing for merchandising or display opportunities.

Even companies with limited budgets can stage events or associate with an event – and have their products displayed and sampled.

Whether you are handing out product samples at the local shopping mall, or sponsoring an amateur play, or buying the rights to park your luxury automobile near the 18th hole during a famous golf tournament, it is still event marketing.

Indeed, when event marketing is done well, it can deliver big audiences and wide media coverage.

That was certainly the result when Lever Bros. introduced a product – Lever 2000 brand of deodorant soap to the Canadian market in the fall of 1991.

Lever supported the launch of its product with advertising and promotion. But the company also used event marketing as an integral part of its launch program.

Lever had a strong media buy for Lever 2000, and supplemented it with a comprehensive range of event marketing initiatives.

The company became a sponsor of a series of mass cycling events, in which Lever 2000 product and promotional literature were distributed to participants.

From in-line skating events in Toronto to ski competitions in Western Canada, Lever 2000 signage was prominently displayed as product samples were distributed to active, community-minded consumers.

Event marketing played an important role in the success of the Lever 2000 launch and it continues to be a strategic part of the Lever 2000 brand marketing mix.

Event marketing may not be an appropriate vehicle every time, but associating with an event should always be evaluated as part of the overall marketing mix.

By carefully targetting your audience, finding or creating an event and exploiting the marketing and merchandising opportunities – you and your company can reap the many benefits of a successful sponsorship.

With more than 4,600 companies spending a projected $4 billion in North American sponsorship in 1994, many organizations have come to realize the tremendous value inherent in event marketing.