The Rise of the Hybrid Event

Digital technologies are definitely putting a fresh face on event marketing. You don’t have to look any further than London Fashion Week 2012 to see how these “hybrid” events could quickly become all the rage.

hybrid-eventThe luxury fashion house Burberry used Twitter and Facebook to distribute photos of the new styles minutes before models wore them as they strutted down the catwalk. Video cameras streamed backstage footage online, and there was even an e-commerce link.  So potential customers were given a chance to take part in a Fashion Week event—as if they were there—and gain access to exclusive content. And if they really liked what they saw, they could buy those styles as well

Such is the promise that online video and social media can unlock for event marketing; a hybrid event turns brands into broadcasters and gives everyone in the world a chance to attend a trade show, special press event or other marketing-based gathering. This adds power and purpose to the goals any marketer should have for staging an event: make it a memorable one for the target audience and get them talking about it—and by extension, the hosting brand/company. Voila! A brand advocate is born.

When it comes to social media, brands are playing catch-up with the consumer. The buyers already live, talk and shop online. Now more than ever, it’s up to marketers to do their homework well and use the latest technologies to zero in on the customer. Do you have the right audience? Do you have the right experience for them?

Hybrid events empower brands to do that by putting consumers in the experience, no matter where they are in the world. It’s a chance to make them feel like members of an exclusive club; using social media to be inclusive is a great way to engage customers that couldn’t otherwise participate.

Yet if hybrid events do, indeed, turn marketers into broadcasters, then they need to offer up some compelling content. Again, this involves finding out what customers are looking for: conversation? Information? A product demonstration?  Special access? VIP treatment? Advice?   Creating an effective  hybrid event involves thinking like a media producer.

Technological innovations make this an exciting time to engage with customers. An integrated hybrid event strategy, executed well and with clear objectives, gives companies more than a fighting chance of leaving very positive impressions with consumers—with or without a catwalk.

CI-Group, a New Jersey advertising agency, provides digital marketing and advertising consulting to Fortune 2000 companies in a wide range of industries. Founded nearly 30 years ago and based in Whitehouse, N.J., CI-Group is recognized as a top advertising agency specializing in marketing strategies, event marketing, promotions, direct marketing, digital printing, warehousing and fulfillment. Companies seeking an award-winning interactive agency thatmerges creative strategies with effective tactics should call 908-534-6100 or visit www.ci-group.com.

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