June 2, 2016 - SXSW, Sundance Film Festival, Oktoberfest—while you might not have attended any of these major events, you've definitely heard of them and know at least a little of what to expect from them. How is that even possible? These successful events' marketing campaigns possess three common features that have transformed them from annual happenings into highly anticipated spectacles.
They Create Unique Experiences
Identifying and appealing to a target audience is key for any marketing strategy, and understanding how to provide that audience with an innovative, unique experience is especially integral for events as they must draw people from all over the globe. The event must be built on the defining characteristics of a target demographic, and provide them with something they won’t get anywhere else, whether they be technology titans, film buffs, or those who just enjoy a good time.
As an event for world class music, educational panels, and industry leading technology, SXSW has created an identity as the place to be for anyone in the music, film, and interactive industries. More than a conference, SXSW markets itself as the "premier destination for discovery" for creative professionals. The event, held every year in Austin, always positions itself on the leading edge of innovation, incorporating location-based technology like iBeacon and a “recommendation engine” in its event app to personalize the experience for each attendee.
Sundance Film Festival
Founded by Robert Redford, the Sundance Film Festival began by targeting independent film producers, providing them with an opportunity to showcase their work. As the annual Utah-based festival has grown in stature and prestige, it's maintained the same focus on independent producers while appealing to new and larger audiences from around the world. Their online and mobile ticket platforms also allow fans to get on a virtual waitlist for last minute tickets to sold out films, helping the festival drive ticket sales and the guests feel catered to.
They Have a Strong Brand
For an event to create its own brand, there must be a universal theme or message throughout all social media, advertising, and marketing campaigns. For events, cultivating a brand means creating a lifestyle that the target audience desires.
Vancouver 2010 Olympics
It can be tough to pin down what defines Canadian culture. This makes it all the more impressive that the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver were able to reinforce the city’s brand as a multicultural, naturally beautiful and diverse city. The event’s iconic blue and green graphics, which evoked the region’s breathtaking coast, forests and mountain peaks, were applied to everything from host city street banners to official Olympic hockey rink boards. The games were also the first ever to have an official Olympics app, which accommodated the unique needs of visitors from around the globe while reinforcing the imagery and messaging behind the games.
The billion-dollar software company has shaped their brand not only around technically sophisticated programs, but around stories. When you attend their events like Envision or Ignite, you expect to meet professionals interested in the human aspects of technology. This messaging is carried through in their commercials, conferences, and events, and appeals to the very core of our nature: the social aspect of sharing experiences.
They Don't Stop When the Event Ends
Measuring the success of an event's marketing campaign is crucial in adapting to changing consumer desires and demands. For an event's marketing campaign, this means releasing positive information, interviews, and post-event feedback to strengthen the brand. It also means applying feedback to future events and campaigns.
The front page of the Oktoberfest website presents the measurements from the previous year's success. In 2015, they had over 5.9 million guests and served 7.3 million liters of beer. Numbers like these show that those with a taste for parties and adventure—and the occasional beer—have made Oktoberfest the world's largest Volksfest.
Coachella uses social media including Twitter and YouTube to demonstrate just how massive their event is to the world. Even after the music and arts festival has ended, the public discourse never really stops. The organizers hype up the event all year long to ensure that attendees are always looking forward to the next one.
These events are all prime examples of marketing campaigns done right. Whether they came from humble beginnings or established cultural traditions, they're now world-famous events that attract devoted attendees from all across the globe.
Photos: Eventbase, Eventbase, kris krüg, ArthurStock / Shutterstock.com