Listening to blues music pour from the TV, I didn’t have to attend the recent NHL Winter Classic to know it was much more than a hockey match. Home-based viewers like me could feel the tremendous fan experience in this year’s host city of St. Louis. Yet, we knew it wasn’t as good as being at the real thing. As one article summed up the scene, “St. Louis’ famous Ballpark Village was transformed into the Blues’ fan hub as the NHL Winter Classic ‘Fan Fest’ drew fans from all over. From shooting areas, to photo ops, to live concerts with stars like St. Louis’ own Nelly, the Winter Classic was made for fans of all ages and backgrounds.” With this level of entertainment, it’s no surprise lines were “at least a block long” to access the fan experience area.
Why the Fan Experience Matters More than Ever
Live events, no matter if a single football game or a multi-day music festival, are more than the main attraction. Their focus is a fan’s entire experience. This most often begins with their first steps through the gates. When your brand makes an appearance at these fan-focused events, you have a huge opportunity to piggy-back on the already positive emotions and enthusiasm that fans experience at these events. When they associate your brand with their favorite team or band, your experiential campaign objectives are amplified.
It is expert planning that gets fans in the spirit the weeks, days and hours leading up to the event. There is data showing that consumers find experiential purchases “more satisfying than material purchases.” And even the anticipation of the event brings happiness. It’s why companies like AirBNB are capitalizing on this information and are active in selling experiences. They are giving consumers opportunities to connect with others, to make memories and to have valuable stories to share.
For your fan marketing event, it’s critical to seamlessly incorporate your brand into the fan experience. Your success depends on what you deliver over and above the main act to endear fans to your brand for the long run.
Three Ways to Improve Your Brand’s Fan Experience This Year
Treat fans to a once-in-a-lifetime experience with one or more of the following three tips for enhancing your brand’s impact at sporting and music events.
1. Get to Know Fans Through Data.
The most important thing you can do to help fans have a great time is to know them. That means you must understand their preferences and their habits related to your business. The NFL New England Patriots franchise realizes fan data is necessary for ongoing success. This information allows them to make business decisions that “impact fan experience.” This includes “ticket prices, game-day staffing, stadium improvements and various other areas.” The data enables them to communicate with fans and build long-term loyalty. They want to create a bond that’ll survive even when the team’s track record isn’t as strong as it is now.
Understanding the demographics and preferences of the fan base will help you to design your associated brand experience. While building a brand experience at an event does carry with it inherent excitement, it is up to your brand to understand each of the fans in attendance and ensure you are speaking to all of them.
A Forbes article recommends the collection of three data types. These are transaction data, social media data and fan profile data. Regarding the latter, “In some cases, this information may be easily and readily available, such as age of season ticket holders. In other instances, we may need additional business processes in order to collect or capture these data points.” Many organizations are incorporating mobile technology into experiences to capture attendee information but also shape future event-related activations. They’re gathering info with technology as early as attendees’ point of entry and continuing with contests, giveaways and more.
2. Incorporate Digital Technology for Them (and You).
Among 2016’s top event marketing trends was the expanding role of digital technology. The increasing participation of those who “never experienced the pre-digital age” makes its integration an intuitive element of a live marketing event. Digital technology can offer value to fans. It can be helpful and fun while allowing you to capture consumer and event data for continued engagement.
Brands can look to the actual fan events themselves for consumer engagement inspiration to use at their own in-event activations. AC Entertainment’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival uses beacons to track attendees’ actions and to communicate with them. In fact, to help guide attendees to the event, the organization geo-fenced the entire state of Tennessee. This allowed them to send messages to anyone in the state, with directions based on each person’s individual location. AC Entertainment made it easy for fans to reach them and set the stage for a positive experience.
In November, we saw the audience at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards “light up” through use of a new wearable device. The PIXL wristband features a LED light, the color of which is based on fan attributes. So not only does it impact the fan experience in a fun way, it allows organizations to collect data when the wristband is activated. Further, event managers now have contact information to drive food and merchandise sales during the event. They can also stay in touch with attendees after.[Tweet “Mobile technology should be incorporated into events early to capture invaluable fan data.”]
Last, put in place an initiative to use digital technology to encourage fans to create visual content for your brand. Innovations such as Spectacles from Snap Inc can help. These smart glasses allow fans to take images and post them directly to Snapchat. Fans have fun while generating brand awareness and boosting your return on engagement in the process.
3. Lead the Way with Capable Event Staff.
Technology is great in facilitating data collection and fan engagement. But there is no better way to connect with fans than through one-on-one human interaction. However your increasingly high measures for the optimal fan experience with your brand requires above-average event staff.
Brand ambassadors must be personable in welcoming fans and guiding them through the brand experience you’ve created. They must be effective in data collection and content creation. Great B.A.s are able to assist attendees with the associated mobile and digital technology. They must be flexible and quick on their feet to interact with tech savvy fans and derive solutions as needed. Ensuring a positive brand and fan experience is no easy job.
Your brand is activating at music and sporting events because interacting with fans is the perfect opportunity to drive brand loyalty for your own company. Follow the tips above to ensure your brand experience reigns supreme.
Since 1999, EPS has provided top-notch event staffing services to deliver the ultimate fan experience. EPS screens individuals based on your specific brand needs in order to provide the best people to represent your organization. Our experienced team will help get you the results you need.