Designing experiential marketing events to make a good first impression is like dressing up for your first date. You look your absolute best, because you want the opportunity to secure the elusive second date. In the case of events, you want to make a stunning first impression on your attendees so they develop a positive perception of your brand. From there, you are more likely to drive immediate and long-term sales, as well as nurture your new customers into becoming repeat customers.
And creating that perfect event experience is not easy. You’re not only after the right experience and level of engagement for the event, you also want the right people representing your company. You need great product and service positioning, a way to capture attendee attention and a plan for continued engagement after the event. It takes a 360 degree approach to leave an impression on your audience while ensuring event goals are met. At it all begins with the initial touch point – the first impression.
The Science Behind First Impressions
First impressions do last. What’s interesting is the speed at which people make these judgments. Studies tell us that you have just 7 seconds to make a first impression. In a snap, the human brain has already made up its mind about someone or something based solely on those first seconds. In addition, changing that initial impression later on is challenging. It’s critically important that your event comes out of the gates strong and wows attendees almost instantly.
A Good First Impression Means Good Brand Recall
In event marketing, a great first impression at an event makes your brand more memorable and appealing. In fact, the EventTrack 2016 survey showed that 74% of consumers say engaging with branded event marketing experiences makes them more likely to buy the products being promoted.
Strong, positive brand recall makes your company the first choice after the event when consumers consider purchasing a product or service like yours. Whether through experience or exposure, you want customers to come back to your brand to purchase. You also want those consumers to become brand advocates and recruit new customers. A good first impression is the first step.
8 Ways To Make A Good Impression on Attendees
Here’s a checklist of things you can do to guarantee good and lasting first impressions, as well as best practices to continue a positive impression during and after the event.
1. Tease Your Audience
Create intrigue so people will be burning with anticipation as your event day approaches. Post updates on your website and social media accounts with event build out photos or guest, speaker or activity announcements. Consider creating a Facebook event to maximize reach beyond your followers. Run contests and use other engagement tools to get people excited to see what happens next.
2. Create a Well-Designed Event Footprint
Make sure that attendees are instantly engaged and know where to go and what to do when they arrive. Product-based brands might have interactive displays and demo areas so attendees can get hands-on with products. Service-based brands may include presentations, videos on large screens or testimonials to attract and educate potential customers. Also, keep in mind that your event’s venue and specific location must be an area that gets great traffic and will reach your target consumer.
3. Hire the Right Event Staff
When it comes to a good first impression, people are your number one asset. Be sure you hire event staff and brand ambassadors who are enthusiastic, fun, engaging, and, most importantly, experts on your product or service. Excellent event staff training can help you get there, but first finding the right people who jive with your brand is everything. Make sure you have enough staff as well. You will want to guarantee that all attendees get the attention they want and no opportunities are missed.
4. Be a Good Listener
You might be selling something, but your visitors also want their voices to be heard. Training brand ambassadors to be good listeners not only makes attendees feel important, it helps your staff figure out how to sell your company to suit their needs. Have brand ambassadors build rapport and offer free assistance and consultations. Let visitors know that you are not just there to sell – you’re there to help.
5. Feature a Wow Factor
You need to keep your attendees engaged with your brand at your event. In order to be memorable, offer attendees an experience that they have never had or can’t get anywhere else. From virtual reality to wearables, technology can help you create a unique event experience. Or use your imagination based on what your company offers. The key is to embrace the “experience” in experiential and amaze your attendees.[Tweet “The key is to embrace the “experience” in experiential and amaze your attendees.”]
6. Come Bearing Gifts
People love freebies, and they have been shown to drive sales. Give out quality promotional items that visitors can use and appreciate. Try to choose items that people will use in relation to your product or service, or that will remind them of you. Because samples can be extremely effective in increasing sales, if you can include mini-versions of your product, consider giving attendees the opportunity to try before they buy.
7. Stay in Touch
To continue to engage attendees and drive sales after the event, you need a way to stay in touch. Whether you are collecting business cards, asking attendees to fill out a short digital form, or using a social media campaign, find a way to continue the conversation and show brand value. With continued engagement, you can transition guests from customers into brand advocates and multiply your marketing reach.
8. Send Them a Post-Event Message
Sending a small note of appreciation is always a good way of making someone feel special. Make your visitors feel like VIPs by using mail merge to send them a personalized email saying thank you. You can also nurture the relationship by inviting them to future events, driving them to download an offer or encouraging them to follow another call to action.
A good first impression stays with people for a long time. Prepare your event from top to bottom and your brand is sure to be likable and memorable, not only in the first few seconds, but in every moment after.
Learn more about experiential marketing staff and execution by downloading our Ultimate Experiential Marketing Staffing Guide and Checklist. It provides step-by-step instructions on finding the best people for your event and ensuring execution runs smoothly.