We’re all a little bit geeky these days.
Every time we turn around, there seems to be a new digital platform that will build community, connect us with our customers, enhance our brands, and generally solve any business problem we encounter with the assurance that the promised land of profitability is just a simple click away. And don’t even mention the ecstasy that arrives when 2.0 is released.
Trust me, I actively promote relevant platforms to our clients and try to help smart marketers separate the wheat from the cat videos for their content needs. I not only get it, I encourage it.
Can we actually connect through digital means? Of course we can. Consumers proudly follow us, like us, share us, pin us, and link to us. It’s easy. It’s entertaining. It’s helpful. And, if you do it right, you’ll grow brand affinity and loyalty.
So go ahead and invest in digital. Focus on digital.
But while you’re spending your dough on pixels, don’t forget about the power of the good old live event. Why?
Produced videos and blog posts are great but there’s a certain polish that happens when you edit and perfect what you say and how you say it. Consumers want to do business with brands that are honest and genuine. Putting your company in front of them certainly shows the real you. And if they shouldn’t be buying the real you, ummmm…. what exactly should they be buying?
You’ve read it.You’ve heard it. You’ve seen it. “To be successful in social media, you can’t talk about yourself.” Great. Thanks for that and the annoying party metaphor that usually accompanies it. In response, insightful executives have been heard asking, “Well, what the hell do we talk about then?”
To elevate the conversation beyond product benefits, promotional offers and your list of ingredients, you need something else to talk about. An event can be that topic of conversation. Whether it’s a group of speakers (like the unbelievable ones featured at The Art of Marketing in Vancouver and Art of Management in Toronto that I’m fortunate to be hosting), a stunt, a festival, or a show, live events drive conversation about something people care about. As an added bonus, your brand can tag along for the ride.
There’s no greater example than Red Bull. They supported the live event of the century, Red Bull Stratos, and sat back and watched as millions actively (and indirectly) consumed their brand. While Felix Baumgartner jumped from space, I think it was Red Bull who actually took the greater leap. I’m thrilled it paid off for them and I’m just as happy for their success as I am for his. You want conversation? Red Bull dominated it.
I don’t think I’ve ever made anyone cry on this stage (OK.. there was that one time but onions and Robin Sharma were involved). People have certainly laughed along the way, though. Emotion shows our personality and when brands help deliver authentic emotion, we feel a little closer to who they are. The world of advertising has certainly caught on to this. Instead of casting double-scale talent to deliver scripted and rehearsed material, some of the world’s best brands are creating live events that feature natural and genuine emotional reactions and then simply showing those as their commercials.
Coke’s 007 stunt. Volkswagen’s Fun Theory. T-Mobile flash mobs. They all have had innocent bystanders experience a live event before repurposing their reactions as bona fide commercials. Not great for my actor friends but pretty powerful to someone watching at home.
They’re content that produces content.
While the actual live event may be the focus of an initiative, they provide opportunities for additional content that further extends the messaging. Interviews, hashtags, making-of videos, followups, summary reports, testimonials, and even – dare I say – custom magazines, can all be additional pieces of content that spin out of an event that will or has taken place.
Additional content on a specific subject not only fills out your editorial calendar, it allows your customers to dig deeper into something they may want to geek out on. While overall participation may decrease, the depth of it does the exact opposite. “Like the stunt? Here’s a ‘making of’ video. Like that? Here’s an interview with the client.” The deeper they get, the closer they get.
Please invest your dollars in digital. We’ll all be better off for it. But don’t forget to save a a small part of your budget so you can come face-to-face with your customers.
If you disagree, don’t worry. Just come up to the stage, look me in the eye, and tell me about it.
This article first appeared in “The Art of” Magazine. You can subscribe to either print or electronic versions here.