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Events give the public an up-close look at your brand..jpgExperiences give audiences an opportunity to connect with your brand in a tangible way. Photo credit: Forbes.com. 

Looking to put your finger on the pulse of the latest trend? Put away your iPhone and go outside. I’m serious—do it, now.

Real-world experiences are making a good old-fashioned comeback, a Renaissance of sorts.

In May, Amazon opened a brick-and-mortar bookstore in New York City’s Columbus Circle, the first of six stores set to open nationwide this year. What’s more, the online-retail giant announced last week that it was making a major foray into real estate, with the $14 billion acquisition of Whole Foods—a move that will add more than 400 grocery stores in the United States, Canada and the U.K. to the Amazon portfolio.

Amazon is not alone in taking an online brand into the three-dimensional world. Technology companies like Warby Parker have opened brick-and-mortar stores across the country, even as traditional retailers like J.C. Penney, Sears and Macy’s have laid off staff and shuttered store fronts.  

What’s causing tech companies to embrace this old-school model? Customers crave experiences. Businesses that want to engage with their target audiences should think about this, both from a business strategy and communications standpoint.

Experiential marketing can help a brand create excitement, build credibility and engender brand loyalty. Here are some key points to consider when planning a branded event.

Know Your Audience.

The first step in any marketing effort is to know who you are speaking to— customers, potential customers, the media? Is the bulk of your audience baby boomers or millennials? Remember, you can’t be all things to all people. The best way to plan and promote an event is to tell a story that speaks to your core audience. Don’t muddy the waters trying to appeal to the whole herd.   

Get Creative.

Like all marketing, events should show creativity while still aligning with the core essence of the brand.  Case in point: The Daily Show’s decision to open the Donald J. Trump Twitter Library, a satirical look at the commander-in-chief’s most memorable 140-character missives. A natural extension to the long-running show’s tone and tenor, the exhibit earned rave reviews—further bolstering the popular show into must-see TV territory.

Align with Influencers.

The halo effect—aligning with reputable people or brands—is a great way to bring attention and credibility to an event. Think about different ways to feature name talent or brands, whether securing a well-known speaker or partnering with a credible like-minded business. After all, brands are judged by the company they keep.  

Support a Worthy Cause.  

Pairing a charitable component with an event can drive attention among potential attendees and the media. Make sure to partner with a reputable charity, one that relates to your core offering. For example, a family friendly brand may choose to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of America or another charity dedicated to serving children and families.

Make it Interactive.

Businesses are increasingly turning to interactive technology to promote events, inviting the public to get involved through crowd-sourcing, contests and more. But why stop at the door? Today, technology like RFID (radio frequency identification) allows organizers to get the audience fired up and engaged, making for truly memorable events.

Summer is here—now is the perfect time to put your event plans into action. Remember: Even with the best user interface, customers still want to see, touch and experience your brand close up.

 

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