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  • Writer's pictureDan Bardgett

Events increasing use as a marketing tool

XSEM Managing Director, Dan Bardgett, talks to leading event publication C&IT about the evolution of events and how they're increasingly being use as a powerful marketing tool, engaging audiences and building meaningful brand relations.


Our industry is shifting. Brands are seeking a more integrated approach to their events, where they are no longer seen as one-hit projects to engage a captive audience, but as crucial components of a brand's overall strategy. This movement towards connecting every event to the bigger picture of the brand strategy is something we've noticed across all industries, and will be key in shaping the events industry in the years to come.

 

Back in 2022, XSEM repositioned ourselves from a ‘creative experiences’ agency to a ‘brand engagement’ agency. We’d noticed a change in market demand which presented an opportunity for us, a business that had just merged a marketing company with an event management agency. We were perfectly positioned to facilitate this growing marketing-events alignment and guide our clients, keeping them at the forefront of industry trends.


XSEM Managing Director at their Leeds based office, discussing the evolution of events as a marketing tool.
Dan Bardgett, XSEM Managing Director

What is brand engagement?

Brand engagement focuses on building a relationship between a brand and its audience. The concept of ‘brand engagement’ is central to modern marketing strategies because it creates emotional connections, builds loyalty and encourages active participation with an audience. This aligns brilliantly with what events are all about, with an added emphasis on creating experiences.

 

Navigating the evolving landscape

The landscape of live events is evolving, driven by a desire to achieve marketing objectives, align with tech advancements and surpass attendee expectations. The typical event formats, content and objectives that we have seen consistently for the last 20 years in this industry are moving radically and rapidly towards a more integrated and strategic marketing approach.

The move towards this approach requires a heightened focus on the preliminary stages of event planning, including objective setting, creativity and conceptualisation, to ensure alignment with the brand's core goals. Every touchpoint matters and is an opportunity to affirm the brand’s identity in the audience's mind.


Engagement and experience

Rightly so, people value their own time and ensuring that attendees get the most out of an experience is now more important than ever. Audiences are no longer passive, but immersed content-shapers.

Pre-event, we can utilise research or registrations to shape on-the-day content. On live days, we help them to engage through activities and technology. Post-event, we get their feedback to shape future experiences. It is important to make brands aware that no closed audience is really closed; creating shareable content is vital and ensures that their event has a much longer lifespan. By crafting these intensified, shareable experiences, brands have an opportunity to engage with their audience more, solidifying those relationships and forming, or attracting, new ones.  


Growing markets

Within XSEM, we have identified 3 key growth areas amongst our client’s which supports the development of events increasingly being used as a marketing tool:


  • Pre-project research: Understanding the audience better to tailor experiences.

  • Gamification: Adding competitive elements and instant rewards to engage audiences.

  • Brand storytelling: Creating immersive experiences that narrate the brand's journey including incentive travel and experiential marketing.


Each of these value-added services help us to intensify the brand-audience relationship.



Measuring success and ROI

The integration of a broad range of marketing and event strategies across many industries has sharpened the focus on ROI, emphasising the emotional impact of experiences and their crucial influence on behavioural change. Collaborative efforts between marketing and event teams have improved our ability to track success via behavioural change and measure outcomes against objectives, offering a more comprehensive view of an event's impact beyond the financial.

 

The pursuit of happiness

At XSEM, we believe that unforgettable experiences are created from positive emotions, and these emotions are crucial for deepening the bond between a brand and its audience.

Our mantra is ‘we make people happy’. By crafting these positive experiences, through engaging reward schemes, captivating exhibitions or targeted strategic communications, we spread joy and enhance the connection between our clients' brands and their audience.

An event is more than just an occasion; it’s a powerful marketing tool that should actively engage an audience, creating a stronger and more meaningful relationship with the brand.



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