There’s no doubt that marketing, sales, and brand engagement have changed over time. Customers who enjoy the convenience of online shopping are nonetheless starting to crave the excitement of engaging with a brand in a live event setting. Consequently, you may be considering taking a chance on marketing via live events.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this growing trend. We’ll discuss why live events make sense in a marketing context, and explain how you can leverage them through your website. Let’s jump right in!
Why You Should Consider Live Events in Your Marketing Strategy
Engaging customers can be a challenge, especially when there are so many media elements vying for their attention 24 hours a day. While not all entrepreneurs can run out and rent a storefront, there are cost-saving alternatives that can be just as engaging as shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.
If you’re weighing the options, hosting a well-planned event can create a significant return on investment. These kinds of events provide the human element some customers desire when shopping for products online, without requiring you to maintain a property.
Some businesses are using pop-up shops as a way to engage directly with customers. There are plenty of other options to consider, however, including conferences featuring knowledgeable speakers, lunch-and-learns, and outdoor events.
One popular lifestyle brand, Refinery29, created an annual event to attract customers. This global, online media company caters specifically to women, and its 29Rooms event brings people out from behind their screens and into an immersive, themed experience.
Event-goers experience 29 rooms filled with hands-on activities, supported by Refinery29’s partner companies. The goal is to engage customers and build stronger relationships.
One of the key factors in creating a successful event is for companies to push boundaries, while still staying “on-brand.” The 29 Rooms event was created to disrupt the exclusivity of New York’s Fashion Week, and create a wholly-inclusive space for people to experience art, fashion and culture.
Another useful example comes from Disney itself. As the second season of the popular children’s show Doc McStuffins was about to launch, the entertainment giant partnered with several UK-based stores to provide children with an immersive experience.
Participants brought their stuffed animals to a designated location, where a replica Doc McStuffins check-up clinic was set up. This example highlights another key element in planning events. If you’re in a market that involves families, focusing the event on children will bring parents to the table as well.
4 of The Best WordPress Event Plugins
Whatever type of event you decide to run, planning and promoting it can require a lot of resources and time. Fortunately, there are plenty of WordPress plugins available to help you keep event information organized and available online for your attendees. Let’s look at four of the best options.
Event Espresso is truly an all-in-one event plugin. You can download the free “decaf” version from the WordPress Plugin Directory. While there is also a premium version of the plugin starting at $79, the decaf version has everything you need for a basic event.
For example, you will be able to set up ticketing for events and receive payments through PayPal Express. Additionally, you can access Apple or Android apps for ticket scanning in order to offer a smooth check-in process. Upgrading to the premium version opens up opportunities to work with other payment gateways and expands the ticketing options.
Event Espresso can be used for any kind of event. Some example use cases include paint and wine events, workshops and festivals.
Amelia is a useful, free plugin for small businesses and organizations. It enables you to create an online booking system for appointments or events. One of its best features is an automated calendar on the administration side, so you will always see what events or appointments have attendees.
You’ll also be able to send email notifications from your dashboard to those attendees, keeping a solid flow of communication going. Plus, Amelia includes four new blocks for the WordPress Editor, which offer booking, calendar, catalog and search functionality.
You can upgrade from the lite version to gain access to more features, including customizable designs, export options and more. A premium license starts at $59.
The Eventbrite plugin is a great way to smoothly integrate events that you’ve planned with the cloud-based Eventbrite application. You’ll be able to import all of your Eventbrite events or filter them based on a number of variables, including date, organizer, location, and more.
Once you import your events list, you’ll can either integrate them into one of the many WordPress events calendar plugins that are available, or use shortcodes to display the list on a post or page. The Eventbrite plugin is compatible with all the leading events calendar solutions.
This is a free tool, which is another benefit. You may have to pay for some features in your Eventbrite account, however, depending on what kind of events you are setting up and managing.
As one of the most popular and reliable events plugins available for WordPress, Events Manager is jam-packed with features. The latest version of the plugin also includes both location and event custom post types for WordPress.
You’ll also have the flexibility to create recurring events and easily duplicate events as needed. While you’ll have to upgrade to the pro version of the plugin if you want to offer a variety of payment gateways, the free version has more than enough options to advertise and maintain your event registrations.
The pro version of the plugin starts at $75 for one site and $150 for five sites. When you upgrade, you’ll also be able to maximize Event Manager’s custom and automated email notifications in addition to the coupon and discount management options.
How to Avoid the Potential Downsides of Live Events
While a live event can be an excellent way to promote your products or business, it’s smart to be realistic about your goals. There are some pitfalls to live events, which you should be aware of before inviting the town over for dinner.
One consideration to keep front and center during your event planning is the timeline. You might be able to throw together a nice dinner party on short notice, but when your brand reputation is at stake and you’re hoping for large crowds, you need to give yourself and your team ample time to plan out all the details.
Another important factor to keep in mind is whether there’s any potential for personal risks during the event. If you’re going to bring in a portable climbing wall or even just an old-school dunk tank, you’ll want to make sure you’re covered by insurance if necessary. It’s best to investigate your potential liability when undertaking a live event of any kind.
Finally, perhaps one of the most important parts of event planning is to strategize your brand’s role in the event. There’s a balance you’ll need to find in order to maximize your ROI. You’ll also want to consider whether the event aligns with your brand strategy. Avoiding a ‘gimmicky’ feel is important if you want your customers to feel that your engagement with them is authentic.
There are a lot of reasons you might consider hosting a live event to engage with your customers. You can boost brand awareness, provide an exciting experience, and bring in new leads. Before that, however, you’ll want to line up the right tools and resources and spend plenty of time in the planning stage.
Are you excited to try some of the tools we’ve mentioned? Share your own tips for running live events in the comments section below!