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April 4, 2008
By: Anon

IT WORKS 3: Izania Downie

"Live marketing is a discipline that's still in its infancy, so it's rapidly evolving and learning as it goes along, but that applies to all new industries and is not likely to be its undoing. The industry is growing rapidly, but if the momentum is to be sustained, corporate decision-makers will need to be shown the full potential and strategic value of face-to-face marketing.

"One of the barriers to progress is the confusion in some people's minds between field marketing and experiential marketing – we are not talking about giving away chocolate bars at railway stations, here. While sampling can be an element of experiential marketing, the discipline looks to actively engage an audience with the brand – to create an event that has the power to dramatically change perceptions and alter behaviour.

"It is our job in the industry to clarify that distinction to corporate buyers. Eventia, as the trade association representing companies that provide business solutions through events, has recently set up a Corporate Advisory Board, creating a channel for dialogue with buyers that will enable us to get this message across.

"Measurement is a challenge, but research on post-event recall and incentives that drive customer targets to websites enabling data-capture are proving to be successful. Clearly there is scope for further improvement, and pre-event research is one area that will be increasingly pursued, so that before-and-after statistics can more ably demonstrate the benefit of the event.

"If the industry is to move forward we must keep striving to raise awareness and understanding. We need the mainstream marketing media to embrace experiential marketing and give it the same level of exposure that is enjoyed by the more traditional disciplines. Case studies and award wins demonstrating the effectiveness of face-to-face marketing will provide the evidence needed for this.

"One thing the industry needs to do is present a unified front, and this is always a challenge when an area of activity straddles two or more existing disciplines. Eventia certainly has members who are engaged in both B2B and B2C live event activity and our role is to support and empower them. A collective voice is key to achieving this and we aim to work with the DMA and other marketing associations to champion experiential marketing and ensure that it receives the attention – and the budget – that it deserves.

What is your definition of experiential marketing and what media does it include?
"We see it as being the creation of live experiences that enable their audiences to interact directly and personally with the brand. The beauty of experiential marketing is its infite scope. The vast range of media includes internal and external theatre, specially designed vehicles or environments featuring interactive experiences, guerilla tactics, promotional stunts, giant games, staged world-record attempts and so on. What they have in common is the impact of the audience experience: the 'see me, hear me, feel me' involvement that comes from face-to-face marketing."

Izania Downie is executive director of Eventia

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