What is Event Marketing?

M.J. Casey

Event marketing is the effort to spread recognition of an entity by association with a social event. Constant competition for the public’s attention rages in print and broadcast media. Event marketing moves that competition to the experiential arena and hopes to engage the participant more fully and make memories more lasting. An experience that is fun, participatory, and readily available may translate into the desired action by the event attendee, making the effort cost-effective.

Concerts usually have sponsors, which market themselves to the audience in subtle ways.
Concerts usually have sponsors, which market themselves to the audience in subtle ways.

The corporate world employs event marketing extensively. Universities and military units recruit via event marketing by sponsoring and holding events. Organizations and causes often raise funds through events or are the beneficiaries of other organizations’ events. Celebrities, officials, and politicians sponsor goodwill events in hopes of maintaining their positions.

Sporting events like bike races typically have corporate sponsors.
Sporting events like bike races typically have corporate sponsors.

Types of events created by marketers are as broad and as many as the entities that create them. Sporting events are very popular, and include touring ski or bike races. Such events may have professional and amateur races to increase participation. Semiprofessional carnivals, casinos with fun-money gambling, or fun family nights with rented, inflatable amusement equipment are often used in local event marketing.

Corporate groups in a less-obvious form of event marketing often sponsor concert or theater series. The connection here is more subtle and thus must be reinforced to the same audience over time. Elected officials or politicians need to be careful in their event marketing activities. There are strict regulations regarding the spending of any government funds. Politicians must watch legal restrictions and perceptual feedback, as undesired messages may be easily construed.

Event marketing is most successful when desired results are clearly delineated. A thoughtful plan includes analysis of the audience, cost, and perceived benefit. The event must demographically and socioeconomically match the available audience. Event logistics, contingency plans, and after-event needs must be anticipated. The impact of a successful event will be lost on neighbors who find trash in their yards after the event.

Event marketing usually refers to live events requiring some degree of audience participation. Online events can serve similar requirements and may become more popular in the future. Such events might be as simple as a mass gaming event, with fees going to a charitable cause. Specially designed Web sites could facilitate elaborate treasure hunts in a cross between the online and real world.

Good events often become annual local attractions. These can yield special benefits to the host, as the cost of advertising the event can decrease and the target audience may respond more fully. The audience in turn may benefit from the increased social offerings of their community.

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