It's All About The Experience

With 2016 fresh behind us, it seems like a good time to look back and do a quick evaluation. Was it a good year for you personally? Did you move things forward, stay in-place or slip behind a bit? Did you experience both love and loss in 2016? Did you have any fun getting there?

Let’s switch over to our professional lives. What did you try out that was new and perhaps even risky this past year? What new experience did you help to build?

2017 marks my tenth year in the live experience and face-to-face marketing industry so I’m also looking back at the entire decade. Back in 2007 I was part of a small team at Red 7 Media in Norwalk, CT. that launched the Event Marketing Institute (EMI). We premiered EMI at Red 7’s Event Marketing Summit that spring and my career path changed. Up to that point, I was a marketer who didn’t understand what face-to-face marketing was. I had never been to a tradeshow in my life. But the EMI opened up my view of live marketing far “beyond the booth”; Mobile marketing, street marketing, product launches and corporate sales meetings were all in the mix too. I learned a lot quickly.

Like most live marketers, I had (and still have) a tough time articulating exactly what it is that I do when I meet folks outside of our industry. The neighborhood BBQ, our church’s Christmas open house, assorted cocktail parties…People would try (or pretend) to understand what I was talking about, with most gravitating to the tradeshow part. Almost everyone my age or older had some understanding of what a tradeshow was anyway. I even tried using the popular term, “experience marketing” but that brought even more puzzled looks over the buffet table.

Then I caught a few episodes of “The Apprentice” on TV featuring our President Elect, Donald Trump. It dawned on me that many of the group projects he assigned to the contestants were actually face-to-face and event marketing based. The group ‘task’ frequently involved a live branded experience and when I started citing the popular television series, more people began to understand what I was describing. Check out the new “Celebrity Apprentice” series that just started with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Donalds’ old role. That formula hasn’t changed much.

All roads lead us back to that memorable live experience. And not just the well-executed (in terms of successful event operations) live marketing experience, but one with strong ties to a specific brand. (How many times have you seen one of those mega expensive Super Bowl TV ads, and remembered the cute or clever plot, but totally missed who the advertiser or brand was)?

Live branded experiences that live with us both on-site and after, the type that lingers just long enough for us to want to build on it, is what we all strive to achieve together.

How many of those brand experiences did you and your team help create in 2016?

How many of them will you help to build for others in 2017?

Keep it experiential.