By Yvonne Milosevic
Advertising a product or service only in print and online is so 2009. Brands today—even magazine companies themselves—recognize that the way to connect with consumers is through events.
Despite our increasingly digital/virtual economy, the event industry has grown substantially in the past decade. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of event planners is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028—faster than the average for all occupations. Patrick J. McGinnis, the host of the HBR podcast FOMO Sapiens, interviewed party planner extraordinaire Bronson van Wyck earlier this year for his take on the role of event planners in the corporate world.
Events are the new magazines
“Magazines used to be the way that a brand could tell its story, could explain who it was, and what the qualities about it were that would appeal to a given set of consumers,” Van Wyck tells McGinnis. But all that has changed. Experiences are where it’s at today. Through events, customers can discover and engage with a brand in a high-touch environment.
We want to create immersion with our events, Van Wyck says. “We’re trying to take the essential qualities of a brand [and] distill them down into a set of characteristics that can be expressed in an environment,” he explains. When guests leave that environment, they know more about a brand and feel more affinity toward it, Van Wyck says.
Events can help boost a brand on multiple levels. Beyond merely getting to know a brand or service, when customers experience it in person, they may realize they must have it in their lives.
“If you can make them love a brand or a product or a service, that’s the best of all,” adds Van Wyck. “Because they’ll not only go out and buy it, they’ll also tell everybody that they know to buy it.”
Under the influence
The most off-the-chain events usually have an army of influencers in attendance. They then bring the brand to their millions of social media followers. And just like that, you’ve got a pre-approved endorsement by people you like and trust.
“I think events are an incredible opportunity to build platforms for communication and persuasion, and then engage the people who attend them in the process of disseminating that information,” says Van Wyck.
As much fun as they are to host and attend, an event is still a marketing investment. And you need to see a return on that investment, Van Wyck notes. Research by Bizzabo found that an overwhelming majority of C-Suite executives (87%) believe in the power of live events and plan on investing in them more in the future.
Go big or go home
We’re fickle, easily bored, and there’s a lot of stuff vying for our attention these days. Events need to offer a fantastic, one-of-a-kind experience if the brand hopes to capitalize on consumer love. Otherwise, the only FOMO we’re going to be feeling is missing out on a good night’s sleep to attend a ho-hum party.