Event marketers today are grappling with the rising cost of event services, extensive shipping delays and labor shortages. While the confluence of these circumstances might signify a perfect storm for another line of business, experiential marketing is a hardy—and nimble—industry prepared to adapt to the state of the economy without compromising the quality of the work. And while there’s a general sense of optimism, the majority of event marketing budgets are not expected to be fully reinstated to 2019 spend levels until later this year, or even 2024 for some organizations. So we tapped six brands for their pro tips on making the most of event budgets in 2023 and beyond.
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“It’s really the continuation of honest conversations. When you think about experience marketing and events and activation, anybody in this business can tell you that there are many single points of failure, there’s a lot of opportunity to overspend. There’s a chance that you could chase a good idea too far. I think it’s the idea of staying rooted in what it is you need to deliver, understanding that audience and trying to be as consistent as possible… And that’s at every level, too, because whether there’s unrealistic expectations on KPI deliverables or on the world climate when it comes to producing assets, or whether it is staffing, or whatever the case may be, sometimes the universe just can’t deliver the type of ambition that a brand has. So, those thoughtful conversations are super important.
-Cliff Rigano, creative director-culture, content and experiential marketing, at Mast-Jägermeister U.S.
“The first thing is to prioritize. You can’t do everything. So, know what’s important and know what are the couple of big bets you want to place in a given quarter, in a given year. The second is, don’t just think about your dollars in terms of that one individual channel. What we try to do across all media is look at how do we take owned, earned, paid, and then things like our sponsorships, put that all together and say, where do we want to be? Where can we get the biggest bang for our buck? Because if they all work together well, you can exponentially improve what you do in terms of perception and reach by leveraging all of them.”
-Alice Milligan, cmo at Morgan Stanley
“We don’t have the luxury of doing anything and everything that we want anymore because of the state of the economy and the state of the industry right now. So you have to be even more strategic about where you put those dollars and what you do with them to make the most impact.”
– Jitter Garcia, vp-event marketing and brand experiences at TelevisaUnivision
“Not even reflective of this time, our team has always been cognizant of getting the most ROI out of any partnership or sponsorship or event we have. We know that when you put sponsorship dollars into something that the brand is going to support, you also need to carve out a budget to bring it to life. And we’re always going to be aware of and focused on that. We also know that experiences might be more important than ever nowadays in a world where everyone’s bombarded by digital media. And that’s why we’re always going to invest money in this space.”
-Matt Barber, brand partnerships and experiential marketing manager at Subaru
“Since 2020, if anything, we’ve all learned how to work differently, and I think that includes what we’re putting our money against. So we’re finding efficient and effective ways to better connect with consumers, and this is definitely through events and experiences now that we’re back to normal. Events is definitely one of them again.”
-Mike Jensen, senior brand manager at Thomas’ Breakfast
“With everything we do, we want to understand the audience to know what they want so that we don’t waste. Everything is very thought out and thoughtful in regards to how are we going to impact the audience, not just how are we going to make a really great marketing event. This is about: what are we going to do that the audience is going to amplify for us? So we’re very strategic and laser-focused on what are those events that are really going to give us the best reward. You can’t 100-percent know that, but you can put up as many guard rails as you can and then pivot when you need to.”
-Ellen Stone, evp-marketing at Bravo