AI tech company GumGum had big event plans for 2020. From activations and panels prepared for SXSW, to a fleet of yachts lined up for Cannes, the brand was ready to shatter its year-over-year event goals and rein in new audiences. All of that, of course, had to change in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Like everyone else, GumGum had to turn on a dime, enlisting its entire marketing department to dream up new ways to deliver branded experiences without a face-to-face setting. The brand’s new approach to its events runs the gamut from webinars to virtual happy hours. If your team is looking for fresh ways to offer brand experiences without violating the social distancing rule, take a look at the following six tips.
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Leverage interactive content.
There’s nothing wrong with offering a straightforward virtual event, but taking attendees on an interactive journey tends to be a lot more engaging. For GumGum, that meant leveraging an interactive content platform to take clients on a virtual adventure.
“We transformed our [live] event into ‘Five essential ways to stay connected with GumGum.’ So it looks like attendees are going on a hike and they get to pick their adventure, whether they’re the fitness guy or they’re the Zen girl or they’re the family person,” says Som Puangladda, vp-global marketing at GumGum. “You take them through the experience and they go through the different tips. There’s also a good cause coming out of this because if they sign up, they’ll enter to win a raffle, but they’re also going to be part of GumGm Gives, which is donating the funds that we have collected from these sign-ups to Feeding America.”
Fill the calendar gap.
Many live events have been postponed, rather than canceled. If that’s the case for your organization, take advantage of that gap in the calendar to engage your audience virtually, until you can connect with them in the flesh. GumGum’s “Bring Cannes to You” campaign, now in its fourth year, will take a digital format during the Cannes International Festival of Creativity’s original dates this summer. The brand will then engage attendees live at the festival this fall (fingers crossed).
GumGum is staying in touch with partners and keeping them apprised of its efforts via virtual happy hours with a variety of teams. It’s a way to keep clients and partners engaged in a fun, more informal setting.
“We’re doing virtual happy hours and having some virtual games, too, that we’re playing so they can win some gift cards and prizes, and also be part of other initiatives that we’re doing. So right now we’re keeping clients entertained, happy and also knowing that their partnership with us is still being taken care of,” says Puangladda.
Keep branding consistent.
If you’re building digital experiences for your U.S. audience and need to extend them to your global audience, make sure a consistent aesthetic and brand message is leveraged across regions.
“I have a marketer in every region—Chicago, London, Japan, New York and L.A.—it’s all hands on deck,” says Puangladda. “We have a Slack channel that’s gathering a lot of ideas and sharing all the initiatives across the board. So my marketing manager in London or Japan can clone [a U.S. virtual event] and be able to share that experience in their own region… We want to make sure it’s thoughtful, it’s branded, our creative team is involved, and we get input, and then we just clone and tweak it. And this recipe has been working well for us with everything we’ve done.”
Put your content to work.
As Puangladda puts it, a marketing organization’s content is “gold” right now, serving as a way to educate and motivate clients and consumers.
“The content that you have is like gold right now, and now is the time to repurpose that content—those case studies, those online experiences that you created. Promote that and continue to educate your client, because that’s where the digital platform does really well, is continuing to bring that message across to your client, and continuing to show that you’re a great partner.”
Dig into your data.
We all know the power of data pre-coronavirus, and now, it’s as useful as ever. All those numbers you never had time to analyze? Now’s your chance.
“Data doesn’t lie. This is the time to go back and evaluate analytics on event attendance,” says Puangladda. “How did it grow? What do we need for those numbers to grow year-over-year? For Bring Cannes to You, we were able to reach 1,000 meditation participants globally, and around 600 in in-person attendance, which is great. So we’re going back to those analytics and data and seeing how can we make our new strategy post-coronavirus very appealing.”
Photo courtesy: UnitoneVector