Ever feel like something’s missing? That pinch of salt or spice in a recipe? That perfect accessory to complete an outfit or tie the room together? The final flourish on a painting? Unfortunately, we at Enliven Production Group see essential features too often being missed by others when planning their events. This article will review six key event components that are pivotal for 2019, plus one exciting technology that's gaining ground at events, and should be considered for your next corporate gathering, too.
1) Brand Promotion
This might seem really obvious for event planners – always be increasing your brand’s familiarity. After all, you’ve got a captive audience at your event. And yet…
When your customers, stakeholders and employees see your brand, you want to invoke good impressions, emotions and trust, and for participants to feel they understand the level of credibility and benefits your business provides. Consider brands like Apple, Nike and M&M’s. These established brands immediately prompt memories and feelings that, although unique to you, come with a general sense of comfort and familiarity. Brand recognition is powerful for business growth.
That’s why it’s so important to promote your brand at your corporate event. In addition to executing your event goals, live events allow attendees to personally experience what your business is all about. Your event is a platform for them to make a connection, understand your culture, and to build loyalty – far beyond simply knowing about or using your products or services. These positive feelings greatly influence your business’ success. Face-to-face time is an invaluable experience with a level of effectiveness that can not be matched by any other medium.
Having your company brand, and event brand if you choose, properly embedded throughout your live event seats these two experiences together, putting your company on an expansion fast track. You’ll not only see improvements in awareness, engagement and attendance, you’ll see growth in relationships, sales and leadership - ultimately your bottom line. Brand, brand, brand! We can never stress this component enough.
2) Your Company’s Core Values
“Brands are facing a new competitive landscape in which self-definition, core values and purpose will increasingly define their ability to reach customers that only allow what is meaningful in their lives to pass through their filter.”
Simon Mainwaring, Social Media Specialist, Author, and Businessman
Core values are the fundamental beliefs and guiding principles of your organization. They help your company and employees determine if they’re going down the right path to meet their goals. Ultimately, they’re what your company stands for and why it exists. Without clearly understanding and applying them, your business will struggle.
The same applies at your events. We’re not saying you should present your list of core values to attending customers. But you should incorporate these principles into your event design. Not only will doing so help present your company in the best light to your event stakeholders, it will show your employees that management walks the talk.
For example, if your core values include integrity and trust, you should insure your method of sharing files and information is secure (i.e., establish a secure private network system). And depending on who’s attending, you may want to acquire a background check service and facial recognition technology as part of the registration process.
If your core values include collaboration, go beyond team building events and design in participation opportunities. Poll the attendees pre-event to ask what their most important subjects are and what they hope to see and achieve. Then tweak your agenda accordingly. You can also request everyone's answers or opinions on select issues before the event and share the information as an ultra productive way to kick off your event and set the meeting pace.
Do your core values embrace high quality and insist on excellence? Choosing a quality venue in the right location is a good start. Don’t cut back on your technology, either. Give your presenters the proper tools to present their messages, and your attendees the right equipment to clearly see and hear them. If budgets are a concern, consider smaller groups or fewer meeting days – funneling down the “who and what” that is most important.
If your core values tout work-life balance, offer event(s) that include spouses and children, and provide ample downtime. And choose the appropriate dates, location and venue that interests and excites family members.
Of course, every business’ core values are different. Analyze them for proper event integration.
3) A Full Featured Event App
This component is almost expected in today's conferences. So make sure you’re using its full potential. To start, this top technology component can be extremely useful even before your event arrives. In addition to handling the invitation and registration process, use the app to build anticipation and excitement through carefully designed promotions. Describe what your attendees will experience and learn, what keynote speakers or other VIPs will be there, what cause(s) your business is supporting onsite (to help promote your culture), and announce the extracurricular and other valued activities that will take place.
The app is another good place to promote your company brand. A fully customizable app allows you to tie in everything from importing company logos and videos, to designing the app’s layout and background using company colors and graphics.
Of course, there are many additional components these apps offer that will heighten your event. You can read more about these amazing features in Mobile Event Apps Mean More. One in particular you should pay attention to is event analytics. This aspect provides crucial real-time data so you can uncover important insights on the success of your event – before, during and after – with very little effort. Before the event, the app can be set up to retrieve data for engagement rates, usage trends and registration numbers. During the event, you can track session popularity, attendee behavior, content views, and generate and download reports to answer all your questions. Some app features allow polling and surveys, great for both during and post event information to help analyze your outcome.
The app is one important event component that directly affects your ROI and can help you develop a roadmap for future event success.
4) Personal Elements
Promoting smaller networking breakout groups or meetings where “like minded” individuals can meet specific groups of people or choice individuals with similar needs bumps the effectiveness of events sky high. And this personal element can easily be designed into a full-featured event app. With smaller assemblies, you can focus the event’s subject matter to engage specific interest-based groups, an effective strategy known as hyper-targeting.
For social media, consider messenger apps (i.e., Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat) that provide a more personal touch than mainstream social media platforms (i.e., Twitter or LinkedIn). Messenger apps were originally designed to provide free, simple and instant communication between friends and family. They are now quickly working their way into the mainstream business world. As of January 2019, the number of global monthly average users (MAUs) is staggering:
WhatsApp – 1.5 billion
Facebook Messenger – 1.3 billion (most popular in the US)
WeChat – 1.08 billion
Note that Twitter and LinkedIn have considerably smaller MAUs:
Twitter - 326 million
LinkedIn – 303 million
(Source: Statista; The Statistics Portal)
Remember, attendees want a fresh, memorable and personalized experience. So research the demographics of your attendees and design the event with features that emotionally engage your audience. Obviously, an engaged audience is a prime ingredient for a successful event, and will promote future event attendance, too.
5) Event Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Although the term originated back in 1964, the concept of emotional intelligence (aka: emotional quotient or EQ) is rapidly gaining popularity and use in today’s business world.
First, what is it exactly? “Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,” says Howard Gardner, Harvard theorist, influential in the field of EQ/EI research. It’s also the capacity to be aware of, control, and express your own emotions. Arguably more important than IQ, emotional intelligence is believed to be the key to both personal and professional success. This makes it particularly important to integrate EQ-related components into your events. Some will directly correlate to your event, while others will be more of an association.
As companies push to recognize how their business impacts the environment, society and their stakeholders (under the broad umbrella of corporate social responsibility or CSR), consider offering a volunteer activity with a local organization or nonprofit group that corresponds with your company’s CSRs. Or you could bring in a keynote speaker from one of those groups to educate your attendees on the cause. Be sure to recap how helpful any participation was to the community as a way to appeal to the EQ of your event participants.
Mindfulness, health and wellness activities, which are integral to EQ, are becoming more common at events, too. Consider constructing a healthy menu filled with nutritional, wholesome ingredients, to heighten the atmosphere of wellness at your event. You could offer a mental health forum, provide a motivational speaker who incorporates a yoga or meditation session as part of their presentation, choose a venue that offers spa services, or include a portable chair massage service that’s conveniently placed near the session rooms. These overlap with the core values of work/life balance and/or family appreciation, too.
Understand that some groups may be more experienced or accepting of these activities and menus than others. Work within their comfort levels. You should be able to increase them over time.
6) Different Groups Together
“I don't think anybody's just B2B or B2C anymore.
You are B2I - business to individual.”
Ginni Rometty, Chair, President, and CEO of IBM
One increasing trend is to invite different groups to your corporate event to help fast track your goals. For example, instead of focusing only on business-to-business (B2B), consider inviting select consumers (B2C) who are at a particular point in their buyer’s journey. Or groups from different industries that support each other, creating the perfect environment for your business to strengthen customer relationships, and for consumers to make confident decisions. Be sure to think of all the different individual’s point of view – what do they each need to be successful at your event? Then integrate the features, content and elements that provide those experiences (some may need to be dedicated to one group only). Targeting multiple groups will also increase your selection of potential sponsors – a real plus!
7) Virtual Experiential Element
Our last subject is not yet a top component, but it’s gaining ground in the corporate event environment and definitely worth bringing to your attention. Plus it will bring a “cool factor’ to your conference. The use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices to produce an experiential event element (aka: event marketing, live marketing or participation marketing experience), is quickly increasing. VR/AR invites and encourages attendees to participate in a virtual, very realistic, brand experience. At the event, they can “try” new products and services, “tour” new sites and facilities, be transported to literally anywhere, engage in impactful training or other marketing applications, where it’s not feasible to experience the real thing.
For example, in 2017, Lowe’s introduced its Holoroom How To virtual training room that enables in-store customers to attend virtual home improvement classes or try new products without actually using real items. You can practice trowel techniques for applying tile mortar to build your new kitchen backsplash without wasting any product. Or with the aid of a weighted power hedge clipper prop, a user can physically learn the proper way to safely clip hedges in this very realistic simulation without feeling intimidated or being in danger from using the real tool.
Now imagine how VR and AR devices could be used to heighten your event. An automobile manufacturer could simulate car crashes to promote new safety features, guests could tour a new power plant oversees or a potential investment property, and a virtual training class could be created to demonstrate new medical devices or procedures. You can quickly see how effective this technology can be for any industry in a conference or trade-show environment.
So don’t leave your guests feeling like their event experience was incomplete. Be sure to include these six essential components (and the cool technical one) into your 2019 events from the very beginning.
At Enliven, we bring our client’s messages to life. Contact us if you would like help in designing and producing your next sensational event.