Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio March
Back to Basics
By Louise M. Felsher, CMM, CMP
CREATING AN IDENTITY
“Experience branding” gets the message across and reinforces
the power of meetings
Times change. Yesterday’s definition of “brand” was how a
consumer identifies a product, service or company. Today it means
the complete sensory experience that represents a product, service
While few planners carry brand management titles, the need to
brand events properly has become a strategic must. In fact, the
level of clarity and faithfulness in promoting a product’s or
company’s image can determine a program’s return on investment.
One way to inject image into the event and to draw out results
is through “experience branding” creating activities that relate to
the brand. For instance, the premiere party for the movie Legally
Blonde offered attendees makeovers, manicures and chances to model
ROI questions to ask after such events include: How did the
stakeholders react from first point of contact to last? How do they
now feel about the firm or product? How was the bottom line
affected? Data can be collected via survey and/or measured by
Whether consciously or not, planners inject experience into brands
simply by the nature of their profession. This imparts enormous
power, since planners generally are the first and last either to
determine or execute participants’ experiences.
Most importantly, planners often represent the only live
marketing source influencing the different channels the Web,
advertising, PR, direct mail needed to promote the event and
support a brand. And even though an event may be live, the total
experience is made up of contributions from all the promotional
channels, each eliciting different experiences for everyone
Prior to completing an outline of an event’s goals and settling
into the nitty-gritty details, planners must understand their
organization’s brand strategies. Are there sub-brands (i.e. Mars
Inc. vs. its individual products, such as M&Ms, Twix and Uncle
Ben’s rice)? Are there specific campaigns for new products or
strategic partnership brands that can be incorporated into the
Branding strategy is equally important to associations. For
instance, at its annual meeting in January, the Professional
Convention Management Association introduced a new logo as a way to
strengthen its identity.
AIM FOR CONSISTENCY
After determining all the points of contact for participants,
planners should communicate the same message through them all.
Branding particularly experience branding must be meticulously
orchestrated and consistent. The more each point of contact sticks
to the strategic plans and is leveraged off the others, the more
impact it will have.
How should the participant feel when opening the invitation?
Will it invoke or complement the reactions from the Web site? How
will the follow-up be handled? What will attendees feel when they
arrive at the event? Will the last point of contact be as powerful
as the first?
At the event itself, the most memorable experiences include all
the senses. In addition to integrating the details of the site,
signage, registration, seating, etc., keep in mind some tricks
others have used to elicit a desired response from an audience.
• The faint scent of vanilla was pumped into a
highly successful pharmaceutical launch last year.
• David Letterman keeps the temperature very
cold in his studio to keep his audience animated.
• A top software firm plays only baby boomer
music during event breaks. Thanks to lots of over-40 customers,
sentimentality is part of the company’s branding strategy.Louise M. Felsher, CMM, CMP, is a free-lance
strategic marketing consultant in Northern California’s Silicon
Back to Current Issue indexM&C
| Events Calendar
| Incentive News
| Meetings Market
| CVB Links
| Reader Survey
| Hot Dates
| Contact M&C