How live business events create the meaningful brand experiences you need

Amid the cluttered media landscape, events offer brands an opportunity to truly connect with customers, writes Jacqui Timmins, exhibition director at Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) and CIBTM.

Your average consumer is exposed to more than 8,000 advertising or promotional messages a day. In the digital arena, consumers are overwhelmed and disoriented with the flow of information, making it difficult for them to know which brands to trust. The direct consequence of this is that your customer is also getting smarter at avoiding any types of advertising messages. Advertising avoidance is the new quiet consumer revolt and it affects all channels. Different types of media create different types of avoidance behaviour, from TV channel zapping to mouse clicking; they have changed the station and unfollowed you. Your brand is gone, to be quickly replaced by the next. Delivering messages through traditional channels is a struggle nowadays.

On the other hand, consumers are more inclined than ever to actively participate in campaigns and a winning event strategy is key to make the best out of this opportunity. Make your campaign real, authentic, relevant and tangible for them to feel in total unity with your brand.

With Business Events Expos around the world, the IBTM portfolio has recognised that exhibitors at our events need to be smart about how they portray their brand, products and services. We no longer live in the Don Draper/Mad Men era where we can brainstorm a powerful sales line, turn it into an ad and be successful.


What is left if you want to stand out from the crowd?

Your key competitive advantage is to create a unique brand experience that allows you to interact face to face and engage emotionally with your target audience. Events make true engagement possible and a genuine connection with your customers can be established. Your brand promise can finally come to life… if you know how to make it real!

The only way to get to the heart of your customers is to make them feel inspired and willing to be a part of your community. You need to believe in similar values. Sharing them them is a good start but ultimately, you will need to make the demonstration of that. A meaningful brand experience will engage your customers (and their emotional cortex) beyond the normal scope of promotional advertising therefore creating a meaningful brand association that will resonate at the core of your customers’ brand perception.


How we revitalised our event

Event strategy and brand strategy need to echo one another. It’s the way AIME (Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo) was re-imagined for 2015. We redefined the classic format of exhibitions and completely revitalised our attendees’ experiences. At the core of all our initiatives is the attendees’ needs, and beyond the scope of a normal two-day event, our vision is to bring the community to life all year round.

For AIME, we had to think outside the square and give more to our attendees. We identified three key pillars that our attendees (and most professionals) relate to for support:

  • Knowledge,
  • inspiration, and
  • business.

All our efforts and energy focused on creating the new touchpoints impacting all senses around these key needs. Then, everything was conceptualised for our attendees to take ownership of these touchpoints. The knowledge program was refreshed with sessions covering both professional and personal development. The show floor was redesigned with a large community hub covering more than 600 square metres with complimentary business coaching, educational and inspiration seminars and a new networking area for all to mix and mingle freely. The social program included more networking opportunities with a new Gala Dinner event closing the expo.

Digital media is an integrated channel to the event holistic marketing approach, with offline and online platforms amplifying each others messages consistently. As a result of all these changes, it felt right to rebrand AIME with a new logo and brand identity in-line with the industry values for a new immersive and memorable brand experience.


The wrap

Live expos and business events provide the ideal platform to engage face to face with your target audience. The main power lies in the fact that you already have an engaged and dedicated audience when your message occurs at a live event.

Whoever you are; an exhibitor, an event organiser or a visitor, it is the most effective medium for cut-through. By generating a strong brand engagement, you will turn your audience into loyal customers.

In this context, keeping your brand at the forefront of people’s minds has never been more achievable as your target audience is in the perfect mindset to receive your message and ultimately become your best brand advocates – at one condition: always exceed their expectations.