Nobody does events for fun. Ok, maybe some do, but nobody should miss the opportunity events provide. In the end, an event is an amazing marketing tool. It’s an investment, whether you invested your money, your energy, or your time in it. Would you give away money, energy, or time without anything in return? You better don’t!
Let’s take a festival, fair, or market: I would say anyone can come up with an occasion, find a place, put up some booths, place people behind the bars, and mount a sign above the entrance. Et voilà! Here’s your fair, right? You paid for the bills, helped set up the place, and how many evenings have you invested planning your event to get it until here. So damn you people, you better enjoy the fair and have fun!
But wait, it’s been two days and there isn’t much going on. You hear screaming kids, see annoyed looking parents, and everyone seems kind of in a rush, determined to get it over with quickly. Not exactly what you were looking for.
Now, what has gone wrong here? Well, you haven’t appealed to your customers’ needs. Especially nowadays, when events pop up everywhere and we are confronted with marketing (remember, events are marketing) 24/7, yours got to be special to stand out, get noticed, and be remembered.
Rather than being surrounded by advertising media (TV spots, print, and online ads), your guests shall ‘feel’ the message by being part of it. Make your event an experience with tangible, physical, emotional, and interactive elements!
The easiest way to stimulate excitement is to consider your guests’ senses when planning your next event.
Given that Christmas hasn’t been long ago, let’s say our fair is a Christmas fair, to give it a theme. Imagine the following scenario:
You’re strolling along an illuminated scenery, smelling roasted almonds and hot mulled wine while listening to subtle Christmas music. You simply feel the spirit watching characters of ‘A Christmas Carol’ mingling with the audience, engaging you and your friends into a small chat and leaving you with a festive greeting enchanted about this overall experience.
How does this make you feel? Relaxed, enjoying yourself, making you want to stay longer, just a little bit? Absorb the atmosphere and indulge yourself before it’s time to get back to busy bee life… Unless you’re the Grinch and cannot have Christmas be over soon enough. In this case, rewind and imagine the scenery replacing ‘Christmas’ with ‘Star Wars’ and ‘festive’ with ‘galactic’, or whatever is on your mind.
The difference that changed your perception is the stimulation of your senses when you walked over this fair.
Pay attention to the following five attributes when thinking about your event concept:
What do your customers see?
Maybe they are already welcomed by characters in full traditional dresses that fit into the theme. Transform the booths in decorative islands that invite to explore what they have to offer. Or become even more creative and break up this standard setup, and recreate entire scenes that fit your theme, like the Victorian London from Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’. Don’t forget to spread the theme with decorations, which also broadens attention and catches people’s interest to visit.
Sight elements could be:
Guards of London Bobbies and Beefeaters
Horse-drawn wagons and carriages
Outside the event area: Place fair in historic residential neighborhoods with spectacular decorations
Over 100 characters of ‘A Christmas Carol’: e. g. Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley, the three Ghosts
Setting of Victorian London of the 19th century
Victorian ladies and noble English lords
What do your customers smell?
We are doomed if we smell something delicious. The longer we smell it, the harder we can resist. Also, scents can cause us to feel different, to remember a positive childhood memory maybe, and are a great way to connect a feeling to a situation. The diverse smells and tastes from stalls and carts throughout the event area stimulate visitors to enhance their stay.
Smell elements could be:
Air laden with delicious odors from roaming food merchants with traditional Victorian foods: e. g. hot meat pies
Black powder smoke
Smell of cinnamon, gingerbread and anise in the air
What do your customers taste?
Now, doesn’t this already sound mouthwatering? Better don’t lose your visitors by running off to the next coffee place or supermarket but offer everything they need on the grounds. We know how Christmas tastes. But how does your brand taste? Which feeling do you want to excite with your product or service? Marshmallow-soft or lemonade-refreshing?
The taste sensation in our scenario are simply implemented by offering the right food and drinks. Cafés in superstores encourage customers to enhance their stay, and are therefore increasing the likelihood of buying more goods. Provide your visitors a treat to refresh and regain energy, and satisfy the children to ease the parent’s nerves.
Taste elements could be:
Food and drinks available from street vendors
Restaurants and bars
Food trucks or flying service
What do your customers touch?
We have to touch everything, right? Since we’ve been kids, things behind barriers or glasses are either boring or fascinating because we try to reach behind and touch it no matter what. Why are some museums successful even with kids? Because they include areas where they can touch things and experience them up close. We don’t create a relationship with an item unless we touch it. Ok, maybe we do. But it becomes even more intense when we feel the smooth surface or the warmth it leaves on our fingertips.
If your product or service cannot be touched, come up with a theme, and make your customers able to experience it. Let visitors return to their childhood, take them back to witness and relive a different era, or create the future and place your service in it.
Touch elements could be:
Characters of ‘A Christmas Carol’
Great-great-great-grandchild Lucianda Dickens Hawskley for book-signing
Visitors getting dressed up themselves
Wandering characters offering roasted chestnuts served appropriately in a paper with the daily news -> applying to multiple senses
What do your customers hear?
Sounds transmit so many emotions and help trigger feelings immediately. Sounds lift products and services, let shows appear even more incredible. Sometimes when I remember events I have visited, I might not remember all what I have seen. I might not even remember the specific music I have heard. But man, I definitely remember the goosebumps I got when it was playing while I couldn’t move my eyes away from the stage.
Do you want to excite your crowd? Do you want to keep them calm? Do you want to hype them for your message? Music supports you wonderfully in every situation. What’s your soundtrack for success?
Sound elements could be:
Gun fire from the Brigade’s firing demonstrations
Old English language used by performers
Old songs performed
Keeping those five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, sound) in mind when planning your next fair, market, or festival, brings you one step closer to staying in your visitors’ minds longer.
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More in my next blog post…
All the best,