The Full Recap: 35 Tips And Insights From EMS 2015 - Event Marketer

EMS 2015

The Full Recap: 35 Tips And Insights From EMS 2015

The Experiential Marketing Summit kicked off this year with a few out-of-the-box activities designed to show off our beautiful host city of San Francisco—and give event marketers that all-too-rare opportunity to hang out with one another and not be working on an event.

At 6:30 a.m. on Monday, May 11, more than 17 intrepid attendees grabbed a Yoga mat and got their down dog on in a 55-minute yoga session with one of the top Bay-Area yoga instructors. Namaste’s all around.

Experiential Marketing Summit 2015 at AlcatrazAt 8:15, attendees split up to take advantage of two group experiences: More than 40 jumped on a boat and headed to Alcatraz for a tour of the iconic island prison, and 12 grabbed a bike and took a guided tour of San Francisco. (No word yet on how many were lost on the way up Telegraph Hill, but we did notice the ice machines working overtime to keep up with the sore quads the next morning.)

After lunch, the EMS education program went into overdrive with five workshops that offered attendees more than two hours of in-depth education on a wide variety of topics including: The 10 Habits of Highly Experiential Brands, Experiential 101, B-to-B D.I.Y Event Strategy, the Science of Neuromarketing and Content as Currency. Twenty of the fresh faces and next-gen rock stars in our 101 workshop walked away with books from the Event Marketer library to help them up their game even further.

EMS’s Opening Reception started promptly at 4:45 in the Solutions Center where attendees had their first glimpse at the more than 80 industry partners who came to share their expertise and their products.

Experiential Marketing Summit 2015

And then at 7:00, more than 550 attendees put on their party dresses and sport coats and gathered in the ballroom for the 2015 Ex Awards Gala where the industry’s top awards were announced. (Congratulations to Grand Ex recipients Bud Light and Mosaic, and all of the night’s winners!)

This year, attendees gained entrance to the Ex Awards with RFID bands that were customized so that when an award winner was announced, those award recipients’ bands would light up. Fun stuff. The night also featured wine pairings with Dark Horse wines (ah, Bay Area, how we love you and your wines), and cocktails from our friends at Bacardi.

 

DAY TWO

Yoga at 6:30 a.m. after the Ex Awards Gala and after party? You’d think it would be a bust. But this is the Experiential Marketing Summit, people. This crew does late nights and early mornings for a living.

Tuesday morning started off with a full house as our morning keynoter, Dima Ivanov, cmo at Bacardi, gave attendees an exclusive look at how the brand is going back to its roots to earn new customers and loyalists.

EMS 2015 Keynote_Dima

“Instead of share of voice, we are moving into a very different concept, which is a very simple concept, that I call share of life,” he said. “There are so many different ways of how you do it, but fundamentally, the concept is based on a very simple fact: The more time people spend with your brand, the more connected or engaged they are, and the more possibility that eventually they will buy the product or whatever you sell. It is all about creating fanatics. The more fanatics you’ve got, the more business you’ve got. It is all about connection and how much time people spend with the brand.” 

Kevin Allocca, head of culture and trends at YouTube, took the stage at lunch for the second keynote of the day, and gave event marketers insights into the behavioral shifts that are driving viral videos across the web.

Experiential Marketing Summit 2015 YouTube Keynote

“There’s no real formula for viral success,” he said. “Though there is a way to be smart about how new behaviors are becoming part of our collective digital experience. If you want to understand this stuff, you first have to examine what the conditions are that make the experience today different than what we had before.”

 

The morning and afternoon featured 30 educational sessions ranging from an informal Winner’s Circle featuring exclusive insights from the Ex Awards winners themselves (announced the night before), to game-changing budgeting strategies from Microsoft, to tips on creating shareable content from Ford, to creating a diverse sponsorship portfolio with insights from Citi.

At 4:30, Michele Promaulayko, editor-in-chief at Yahoo! Health treated all of the women in the industry to a Wellness & Wine mixer. The topic at hand: how women in events can stay sane, centered and physically fit in one of the most grueling work environments in the business world.

Experiential Marketing Summit 2015 WIEAll attendees convened for a happy hour networking event and then it was off to downtown San Francisco for dinners with friends, colleagues and new friends made at the show.

 

DAY THREE

Attendees started off the last day of the show with a hearty breakfast and more than a few trips to the never-ending coffee bar (thank you, Marriott Marquis, for keeping us all caffeinated. No really, thank you.) A lot of shows end with a fizzle, but EMS starts strong and stays strong until the very last session of the day.

Our morning keynote welcomed Dan Griffis, vp-experiential marketing and alliances at Target, to the stage for a casual “unplugged” session with Event Marketer Editor & Publisher Dan Hanover.

Experiential Marketing Summit 2015 Solutions Center“Having that thought in your head that ‘this might not work’ is a truly powerful thing,” Griffis said. “The [events] that we think, ‘we might not be able to pull this off’ are the ones that are truly pushing the industry forward and are creating something new and innovative. And I think that we all have a responsibility to do that from time to time. And that’s something that I fundamentally believe and I push the [Target] team very hard on.”

Experiential Marketing Summit 2015 Attendees

Attendees rolled right into the more than 26 sessions on offer throughout the rest of the day, and enjoyed their last few opportunities to grab a refreshment and get their hands on the products in the Solutions Center.

Intel amped up its presentation on embedding your company’s social media team inside your events with an action-packed team presentation. Acura treated attendees to its session on low-key activations to a full-scale recreation of its candy bar it uses at live events (there was nary a gumball left by the time this crowd was done with it). And Continental Tire gave everyone a Rally Towel to take home. These were just a few of the many “experiential” sessions at EMS. Because, who can do a live experience better? No one, that’s who.

The show wrapped up at 4:15 with energies still high, hugs all around and a “see you in Vegas” as we look forward to EventTech, Nov. 2-4, at the Bellagio. With so much to see and do at EMS, we know it’s impossible to take it all in. So we have compiled a list of 35 tips, quotes and insights gathered by editors throughout the show. Thanks to everyone for an incredible EMS 2015, and see you in Vegas!



TIPS, QUOTES & INSIGHTS

“From the experiential perspective I want to create an opportunity to tell a story and have you be a part of that story. It could be immersive, it could be social media driven, it could be in-store driven. To the extent that I have an opportunity to have conflict, have an experience, I build anticipation and some kind of connection to that experience, it carries over to the brand. These brain mechanisms are very blunt. Once [consumers] care about the experience [they] had, it carries over. We want to create experiences that create great memories where it has a halo effect around this brand, and therefore [consumers] like the brand more.” –Dr. Paul Zak, neuroeconomist and author of The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity

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“Building an event, you really do have to start with the foundation and have the objectives and understand what you’re trying to build, what’s your vision of what you want your house to look like, and make it livable, and so in each of these sections there’s something that really ties nicely into the analogy of building a house.” –Mary Fehrnstrom, Director-Global Event Strategy, Cisco for Workshop: DIY Event Strategy, The Cisco Way

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“There’s so much gray area in our jobs that you have to define it and if you don’t define it, it will be defined for you. So you need to do it with your colleagues and with your clients and make sure everybody understands their roles and responsibilities. This is important because you don’t want to get to the site and say, ‘Oh, I thought you were taking care of this. No, I thought you were.’ It could be simple or it could be something super important.” –Deb Murray Lemon, President/Partner, On Board Experiential Marketing for the Workshop: Experiential Marketing 101

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“Budgeting is something that everybody at an agency should know how to do. If you’re not fiscally responsible, you’re not a manager and you’re not a leader with your client. Everybody should know what they’re spending and why they’re spending it and what the ramifications are for that.” –Deb Murray Lemon, President/Partner, On Board Experiential Marketing for the Workshop: Experiential Marketing 101

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“You need to understand the things you are measuring, and measure the things that matter. So, ask ‘What are we trying to achieve here and how are we going to achieve it?’ Is it about spending quality time with your customers? Is it about getting a lot of people through [the event]? Is it about how long and how much and how many? What are the things that are really important to measure? If we’ve defined those things early on in the strategy, when we get down to the measurement part of it, it becomes a little more straightforward.” –Mark Mullen, Vice President, Strategy + Planning, George P. Johnson for the Workshop: Experiential Marketing 101

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Re: Why to measure outcomes and not outputs
“Outcomes are preference for brand, the ability to protect premium pricing, customer lifetime value, wallet share, mind share. These are the things that matter to brands and clients because they’re trying to run a business and this is a part of their marketing mix and it needs to contribute to the marketing mix and lead to sales. Outputs are, how many t-shirts did I give away? How many chairs do we need to have in the room? How many people showed up in the session? They’re helpful for the diagnostic process, to know if you got that part right—to know, next year when we do it we need more chairs—but the real things we want to focus on, the way we want to measure and communicate business value around the bigger ideas, those are the outcomes.” –Mark Mullen, Vice President, Strategy + Planning, George P. Johnson for the Workshop: Experiential Marketing 101

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“You can’t go to an influencer and say, ‘Hey, here’s what I’m going to give you and I need you to say this verbatim and when can you send it out?’ Ninety-five percent of the time it will come out wrong and look forced… You have to give your influencers a wide lane to play with and program.” –Alex Frias, Co-Founder & President, Track Marketing Group

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“About eight to 10 years ago we said OK, we’re not an emotional brand, we’re not an experience brand, how do we get there? And we can do that by working in a category like entertainment… Entertainment drives loyalty, music and sports drive people talking positively about brands, so that’s important for Citi—we want people talking about our brand in a positive way.” –Jennifer Breithaupt, Global Head of Entertainment Marketing, Citi

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“For most of the 20th Century, marketers had a great deal of control over the context in which their messages were experienced, but the world has changed. Half of YouTube is accessed on mobile, hundreds of millions of videos are shared via social platforms and that’s a place where content is mixed with innumerable discussions and context.” —Kevin Allocca, Head of Culture and Trends, YouTube 

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“Using Snapchat really allowed us to give fans a VIP experience without creating a VIP area.” –Pattie Falch, Director-Sponsorships & Events, Heineken

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“The only value you ever create or that companies ever create happens in the context of a relationship. No relationship, no exchange of value on any level. The reason why experiences are so important is that that’s the container for a relationship, especially ongoing. So if you don’t have an experience, you can’t have a relationship. If you don’t have a relationship you can’t exchange value with anyone.” –Nathan Shedroff, Chair, MBA in Design Strategy, California College of the Arts (CCA) and author, Make it So

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“A principle we like to apply is starting at the end. We’re always thinking about what is that last feeling that everyone is going to walk away from? Who are those people? What do we want them to think, feel and do? So really thinking about that last moment was always top of mind.” –Adam Suellentrop, VP, Production & Client Services, Barkley Kalpak Agency

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“For a lot of reasons, the Hispanic community has been under-marketed to. What that means is when you market to them, it is actually effective because it is a new experience for them. Moreover, culturally speaking, this community wants a face-to-face, experiential, interactive experience. When you combine those two forces you have an opportunity to really build a strong huge connection with this community, which is exactly why my team looked at Copa Univision and said this will be the way we will engage Hispanics in a new, innovative way that gets them in front of brands that want to speak to them in a real effective way and in a sincere and authentic way.” –Carlos Alimurung, SVP-Corporate Business Development, Univision

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“Whenever you create a framework with which they can engage and allow them to express their creativity in their authentic voice you get back tenfold what you would get if you dictated to them what you wanted them to do.” –Amy Green, Marketing Development Specialist, Ford, re: the college market

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“Know your audience and how to authentically connect with them. That is critical. People are able to sniff that out very, very quickly. You also need to know your environment and have a good recognition of what is the norm in this space. American Express does a whole host of events and experiences. What we would do on the trade show floor is not necessarily what we would do at a proprietary event for some of our best customers. Know your brand. There are things we would not do because they would feel disingenuous to American Express.” –Bethany Kay Barefoot, Director, Trade Shows and Field Sales, American Express

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“All of our activations have an eye toward lead generation. If there is a digital component, [attendees] have to give some piece of information in order to be able to participate. Keep it light, remember where these people are. A trade show is a cross between a circus and an airport with a little sprinkling of ‘The Hunger Games’ thrown in.” –Bethany Kay Barefoot, Director, Trade Shows and Field Sales, American Express

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“Pro gamers are not basement dwelling nerds, these guys are athletes in school, these are the guys who are the opinion leaders and influencers in their world. And when we talk about who’s watching, this stat was just recently published: Of all esports viewers, 40 percent of them don’t play the top franchises. This is akin to if you watch football but don’t play football, it is the exact same thing. It is proof that esports is becoming a real spectator sport.” –Ryan Fitzpatrick, VP Lifestyle Marketing and Branded Entertainment, NCompass

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“A lot of brands have a traditional sports marketing strategy and a lot of people are trying to target millennials as part of that sports marketing strategy. But unless you are trying to sell life insurance, that is probably not the right place to be. Your millennial audience is not there. Where to find these guys and how to talk to them, how to be credible and authentic to this generation? Esports is the right solution.” –Ryan Fitzpatrick, VP Lifestyle Marketing and Branded Entertainment, NCompass

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“Data is always complex. That is its nature. Make sure you stay true to the data, make sure it is authentic, but get rid of as much visual complexity and experiential complexity as you can. If what we designed couldn’t be understood within one or two touches, we have failed. Simplicity and clarity are absolutely critical. You can have lots of amounts of data, whether it is sales data or performance data or number of customer engagements or financial data, but if it is not telling a story that supports the brand or the campaign or the event, it is of no use. How the data is visualized is as important as the data itself.” –Nathan Moody, Design Director, Stimulant

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“Last year, the top 25 gaming companies earned $54 billion. It is not niche anymore. Games are killing it. We are the biggest platform out there.” –Javon Frazier, Principal, Maestro Media Ventures

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“There are content providers out there that are really making waves in the industry through streaming content with millions and millions of viewers. It is a unique opportunity for brands to partner with content providers. Consumers are responding less to traditional sales. Signage and banners ads are less important as these streams where people feel a connectivity to the event that is happening. That is the big opportunity, to partner with content providers and really do brand integration.” –Javon Frazier, Principal, Maestro Media Ventures

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“Event security is a topic that is hard to get your hands around and it scares a lot of people because there are a lot of scary things out there, but this is something you should focus on because it is terribly important to what you do…. If you do one thing, build an event emergency team.” –Matthew Olander, Principal, Waypoint Risk Management

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“Your ability to provide the safety and security of your attendees and staff will directly help your bottom line.” –Matthew Olander, Principal, Waypoint Risk Management

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“You might be doing an event in San Francisco—think, is there a way to give it a broader context, make it more scalable and reach a national or maybe an international audience, even if you are doing a local event.” –Ben Kaplan, Founder & CEO, PR Hacker

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“Consumers are much more willing to use social media, and this is true across every type of consumer demographic out there.” –Jeff Stelmach, President, Mosaic

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“We wanted to give these attendees an uninterrupted and elegant experience that they were used to. We wanted to enhance the overall event, not attack them with corporate messaging.” –Tori Petersen, Event Producer, Acura

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“If your product isn’t vital to the sport, provide a service or experience that fans of the sport will want. Make your efforts about them and what they will respond positively to.” –Travis Roffler, Director of Marketing, Continental Tire

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Tips for transforming employee events:

1. Establish an identity and build excitement through tools like countdown clocks, registration, personalized agendas and user-generated content.
2. Treat your attendees like guests (brand advocacy starts from the inside out).
3. Creating culture means not taking life too seriously.
4. Little things can make a big difference.
5. Give guests experiences worth sharing and give them places to share it.
6. Give guests the platforms to participate (sometimes literally).
7. Create a call to action for guests—why they’re at the event and what they’ll take away from it. –Karl Thomas, Senior Director-Brand Culture and Internal Communications, Hilton Worldwide

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“About 90 percent of people that actually tweet don’t get a lot of reactions. And while it’s great that they’re participating, the ones that do get a reaction are the ones we want to nurture more. So we started, then, finding influencers. Getting the influencers up front and understanding who they are through data—having them involved in an event actually creates more participation because they have the recognition and authentic voice that everyone’s looking for.” –Marius Ciortea, Senior Director-Content Marketing and Social Intelligence, Oracle

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“I would suggest a bit of strategy if you’re going to make a change. Use the competition to motivate. We went from an audience being openly hostile to possibly tolerant. That’s a big step. That technology mindset had been engrained for six years and it was very strong. So to me, that’s a success. That was exactly enough to make me feel like we could go forward.” –Joan Henderson, Manager-Custom Engagement for Industry Events, NetApp

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“Google likes to think of things in terms of product features. And the conference chair: literally every event planner’s nightmare. They’re terribly ugly, they’re horribly uncomfortable and they’re not functional—they’re just used for sitting. And I bet all of your butts hate doing that in your chairs right now. So here’s a solution [shows image of modern conference chairs with desks and outlets]. I don’t know about you but nothing freaks me out more than running out of battery on my cell phone. My heart literally stops beating. Our phones connect us to the world and we didn’t want attendees’ phones dying during the event. We wanted them to focus on what we were saying on stage. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend tens of thousands of dollars on chairs, but attendees really took notice. One prominent blogger… called out our chairs. Color me giddy if someone blogs about a product launch that we do, but I was astounded to see that even our chairs got some social media lift. Hashtag: worth every penny.” –Derrick Djang, Head of Events, Performance Ads Marketing, Google

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“Our structure was set to a home team and an away team. The home team was looking at the social networks, engaging with people in the feeds. We also had team members that were activating content for promotion on Facebook and Twitter. And as a global brand we have a global footprint. So content we created would go from live in the event to our European colleagues and the audience that they had that were interested in CES or technology. So we had a 24/7 clock of content that was engaged with.” –Bradley Whalen, Global Social Strategist, Intel

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