Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Power Brand Experience: how Microsoft transformed its events into turbocharged experiences

Microsoft MGX event
On the occasion of my 8th year of "BRAND INNOVATION," I'm looking back at the key concepts that influenced my perspective on power branding.

Quite possibly the world's largest spender on event marketing, Microsoft became a marketing juggernaut by transforming its event and trade show portfolio into a turbocharged, experiential machine.

Local, regional, national and global events are being mixed and matched into super-relevant engagement platforms. The fusion of event delivery and digital technology has never been more urgent. And live marketing is being measured more than ever before, showing Microsoft what's working and why.

I had a chance to share time at a conference with Jeff Singsaas, general manager of event marketing at Microsoft.  He offered a taste of where the event industry was headed, from the redeployment of dollars to portfolio analysis to measurement and professional development.

Singsaas imparted this 5-part formula for winning events:
  1. A stable team of really good business people – to increase consistency of execution
  2. Making sure everyone is clear and accountable – to navigate account and budget
  3. Process focus – to remove variation and duplication
  4. Clear roles & responsibilities – to improve communication and accountability
  5. Great business acumen – to track budgets & metrics

From his vantage point at Microsoft, Singsaas saw the trend toward digital events being added to the marcom mix. This meant pairing tactics from the e-world to leverage traditional media – all in the context of successful meeting promotions and management.

Given this trend, there are four cornerstones of great marketing in this digital space:

  • a clear value proposition of what the customer wants and needs.
  • a more connected sales and marketing effort.
  • a definable business strategy with goals and objectives for the events.
  • storytelling that can make the message more compelling for customers.

Creating “the show that never ends” also means designing digital event tactics that can build anticipation, deepen the interaction, extend the experience, and magnify the impact beyond the venue.

Building anticipation means appealing to participants’ excitement and curiosity. Pre-meeting communication can provide practical information that address concerns. In this phase, one must avoid over-promising and under-delivering.

Deepening the impact means creating more relevant and meaningful interactions with customers. Planners should use technology as a means to this exchange, not simply having some gadgets in the meeting.

Extending the experience after the meeting can be accomplished in many ways using CDs, custom websites, and downloadable photos.

Magnifying the impact of an event helps leverage the investment in any convention, sales meeting, or customer event. Examples are posting meeting content online, hosting a keynote presentation in a virtual space, or even broadcasting live from an exhibit booth with updates from the show. Blogging from breakout groups is another common technique.

Rewriting the rule of event marketing: Applications for power brand marketers

Your event planning team can help you apply these best practices by connecting traditional event tactics with digital tools. 

I created this template to help list some of the ways you could get more from you next event when you build anticipation, deepen the interaction, extend the experience, and magnify the impact beyond the venue.

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