Great achievements are rarely the result of a single action of an individual, but rather the outcome of communities coming together to debate, discuss and grow. However, does living in a digital age mean face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past – an inefficient way of bringing people together?
Well, the short answer is no. Research and experience tells us that face-to-face communication remains one of the most effective ways to build communities, engage audiences and drive progress.
Power of live experiences
Events can help us to educate, entertain, inspire, forge new relationships and drive innovation – including when it comes to making our brands more sustainable. Most importantly, events help create emotional connections between people and brands. Few people will chat with their friends about the latest banner ad for a brand, but 59% of consumers who experience event marketing tell others about that live experience within 48 hours (Event Marketing Institute). This is a major advantage for your brand, when you consider 90% of people trust peers recommendations while only 14% trust advertisements (Socialnomics). Basically, nothing beats word-of-mouth when it comes to creating communities around your brand.
Forbes conducted a survey of 760 business executives and 84% of respondents said they preferred face-to-face communication because it builds stronger, more meaningful and trustworthy business relationships. 53% said that “live experiences” are the best tool for brand building amongst other marketing disciplines.
So when brainstorming your stakeholder engagement strategy, make live experiences a key pillar of your plan. Think about how you will build relationship, inspire trust, and unleash your audience by delivering a customised experience that they will never forget. Key pointers to this are:
There’s a difference between living your brand’s sustainability story and simply talking about it. Launch your big sustainability challenge, define an enemy and involve your audience to get involved to fix it and then participate in its storytelling. Rather than just presenting how your company is committed to Sustainable Development Goal No 13 and Climate Change for instance, partner with an NGO to train children to be climate ambassadors during your event while involving delegates to participant in activities and commit to climate action.
Software company Symantec, integrated Plant for the Planet Academies into their business events to train children to become climate ambassadors and to inspire their attendees. Their delegate perception of Symantec as a responsible company increased from an average of 59% to 87%.
- Walk the Talk
When building your sustainable brand you cannot organise an event without thinking about how you are going to minimise its environmental impact, maximise its social legacy and optimise its economic effectiveness.
Start by considering the attendees experience at your event, and consider all the key contact points where you can make your sustainability commitment real, tangible, and visible. For example:
- Procure your food locally; make your menus healthier by reducing sugar and meat, and increase ingredients that stimulate positive brain activity; put your chef on stage to explain his efforts to increase wellbeing and sustainability
- Choose eco-certified hotels and venues; design your event so that your participants can easily walk, bike and use public transport
- Work with your designers and suppliers so all your branding, stage sets and booths are made from sustainable materials (delete the PVC) and to be recycled
- StoryDo your actions and results (with numbers) to all your partners, suppliers and delegates. Make it relevant to them, and then inspire them to make suggestions and get into the action
The proverb says – “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Menu cards allow you to tell your sustainability food story in a discrete and engaging way.
- Measure Everything
W Edwards Deming once said “In God we trust, all other must bring data“. It’s critical that you have a plan to measure, analyse and transparently report on your key social, economic and environmental impacts. Work with your suppliers and use technology to collect data and to analyse audience awareness, satisfaction and behaviour change.
At MCI we say that “When people come together magic happens”. Events are a powerful tool to build your sustainable brand story and need to be a key strategy for you to create brand ambassadors.