Feature Article - January/February 2017

The Evolution of Event Marketing

It's the Experience That Counts

By Rick Dandes

The Right Fit

Seiko does something similar, Dougherty said. "We come to an event with an array of products, maybe 10 to 20 preselected Men's and Ladies' watches that would appeal to everyone. We set up in an area, usually within proximity to where the guest register is at the hotel for the event, and once people receive their credentials they can come over and have a fun shopping experience picking out a watch that best fits their lifestyle."

First and foremost, plan ahead. Lighting and background noise make a difference. Low noise levels will allow your recipients to hear what the consultant is saying, and ample lighting will allow them to properly shop and see what they are choosing. If an outdoor venue is chosen, shade for all participants is key.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? Think again. In the past, Seiko attempted to run these events on their own, utilizing their independent premium representatives "and our own personnel to staff them," Dougherty explained. "It became burdensome to do this, took us away from our true responsibilities of sales, and we often found ourselves stumbling over each other because we really didn't do this for a living. It was clear that if we wanted to prevail in this arena, which was important, due to the success of event marketing, we needed help."

Seiko sought a partner that would give the brand the attention it deserved and would bring a world-class experience to the recipient—an experience that would leave people feeling like they just received an incredible gift. That's where turnkey companies like the one Seiko chose as a partner, Global Gifting, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., or others like Links Unlimited come into play.

John Cresci, president of Global Gifting, worked at Maui Jim for 10 years, learned the trade, took their business model, and expanded on it for several other brands. "There are companies out there that can provide product but don't know how to do the experiential part," he said. "They don't know how to facilitate it, don't know how to organize it, don't know the logistics that it involves, so I modeled this company with that mindset of people in mind. Those details are what we do."

Tumi, the South Plainfield, N.J., high-end business and travel product manufacturer, has done many corporate gifting events, said Mike Landry, vice president, Special Markets, and they handle their own details.

"We have a pretty standard package," he said. "We ship a show capsule out, a table draped with a Tumi logo, and a couple of banner stands. We can vary the products enough to offer a couple of backpacks, top-zip business cases and some women's pieces. People will come through and say, 'Don't like that, don't like that, and wow, that's wonderful, I have to have it.' It's a shopping psychology."

Six to eight different bags are typically offered at Tumi events, all at the same price line because the meeting planner wants to control costs. Planners want to know how much they are spending per person, Landry said. "Typically the event takes place where there is a bar, with music being played. The Tumi experience becomes part of the show—a wonderful, feel-good experience, a fun thing to do."

Landry is also a proponent of individualizing the gifting experience. "In our particular channel," he advised, "the smaller the item, the more apt someone is likely to take it away with them. People will always find a way to take home a pair of sunglasses or a watch. In our case, we are talking about bags. No one wants to be at a resort location with a bag and then we give them another bag."

Tumi's strategy is to ship those selected items to recipients after the event. This takes away their worry about what to do with that second bag and allows the company to customize them with monogramming. "The Tumi DNA is in the design language," he said. "If you bought it at retail you might want it monogrammed. I can't do that on site, but people completely understand they'll get the bag after the fact with their monogram on it. People love that flexibility. They love the added value of having that monogram."