Maximizing Live Experiences to Build Brands What are you doing with brand events to get audience members to pull out their smartphones and share?

By Gabrey Means & Cassie Hughes

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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In the not-too-distant past brand managers and marketing directors used to evaluation the success of live events based primarily on the metrics then available -- number of attendees and press impressions.

With the explosion of social media and digital analytics, however, along with brands' realization of the importance of developing and deploying engaging content on an ongoing basis, more and more brands are implementing live experiences as a critical component in the marketing mix.

Related: It's Not You, It's Your Story: Why Branding Matters

Today, these live events and experiences should be conceived through the lens of a larger strategic platform; and businesses should also let critical factors work in concert with these events, for maximum efficiency and ROI. Rather than assess the value of a live experience solely on attendance and press impressions, businesses should design their strategies to maximize four key outputs:

1. Compelling content.

Live experiences create engaging brand content that can be captured via photos and video and deployed through owned social channels, websites and paid and earned media. These paths can expand the reach of a great experience delivered to influencers in one market, to the rest of the country, even globally.

2. The reach of traditional advertising.

A new ad campaign can be launched or extended by creating experiences in key markets that engage your consumers and bring the brand to life. In some cases the experience itself becomes the ad campaign, such as Bud Light's "Whatever, USA" campaign.

3. Press and influencer engagement.

With shrinking newsrooms, the proliferation of bloggers and fragmented media consumption, brands have to work harder than ever to get attention. Whether for a product launch, new partnership or other milestone, the effort to bring a brand to life in an engaging way gives press and influencers a more immersive and intimate experience with your message -- not to mention something far more interesting than a press release -- to build a story around.

Related: The 7 Tenets of Branding

4. The drive for advocacy and rewards for loyalty.

Recent media coverage has centered on MasterCard CMO Raj Rajamannar and his evolution of that brand's iconic Priceless campaign, to highlight delivery of amazing experiences to cardholders. The campaign rooted in data and insights the company uncovered on the hunger consumers have for experience. Focusing on the experiential vs. transactional aspects of your own brand can elevate it to a new level, fueling an emotional connection and engendering loyalty. And while not every brand can put Justin Timberlake on the road, there are plenty of ways to connect with your loyalists through experiences that are both intimate and scaleable.

5. Social sharing and word-of-mouth

If you want people to talk about your brand, you'll need to give them something to talk about. And new products or ad campaigns are not enough. Photos and video drive the majority of engagement on social media, and in this era of the selfie, the images people are most excited to share are those in which they are front and center.

Related: The Secret Ingredients to a Successful Branding Strategy

A rich experience will have your audience pulling out their smartphones to show their friends and followers what an amazing time they are having, authentically spreading the excitement far beyond the four walls of any event.

Gabrey Means & Cassie Hughes

Co-Founders, Grow Marketing

Gabrey Means and Cassie Hughes are the co-founders of Grow Marketing, an experiential marketing agency headquartered in San Francisco. Means serves as the creative director and Hughes is the strategy director.

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