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OVERHEARD AT EMS 2016: THE 7 MOST INSPIRING INSIGHTS FROM THE SUMMIT

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Once every year, the top leaders of experiential marketing gather at the Experiential Marketing Summit to identify emerging trends, share insider best practices and review award-winning work from the industries biggest brands. After three action-packed days, guests come away inspired with new ways to better connect with their consumers.

Read on for seven of the most intriguing, surprising and downright inspirational quotes we heard at EMS 2016.

1. Everything is an event; everything done well is an experience.  Peter McGuinness, CMO, Chobani

Grow’s Take:
Your story isn’t just what you tell people—your actions, over time, are what truly craft your identity. Regardless of the opportunity size, every brand experience is a vehicle to tell your brand story in a premium way. Whether it’s a B2B trade show, internal cultural event or a consumer pop-up, impactful engagement marketing delivers the brand message consistently across every touch point in unexpected, yet intentional ways.

2. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Period.  Adam Hartner, VP of Consumer Engagement, Pepsi

Grow’s Take:
Just like a healthy relationship, culture is something that needs to be nurtured and maintained over time. Grow knows that emerging and heritage brands alike need to stay relevant by being on the forefront of trends and evolving with the times. However, the best brands evolve while staying true to their core ideals, values and beliefs.

3. I saw how experiential engagements can really make a brand connection. More than you could ever do just on social, more than you could do in advertising communications…We came [to the Super Bowl] not to make noise, but to make connections, and we did both.  Mark Viden, VP of Brand Marketing, Dignity Health

Grow’s Take:
It’s impossible to overstate the value of the live experience. Human beings are primarily emotional creatures, and once an emotional bond with a brand is formed, the outward ripples are endless. When a brand provides an opportunity for an audience to make a genuine, emotional connection, it amplifies its brand message, boosts consumer engagement and creates authentic advocates for life.

4. Agency partners are king. Adam Hartner, VP of Consumer Engagement, Pepsi

Grow’s Take:
We couldn’t agree more. When it comes to agency partners, the whole is more than the sum of its parts—in other words, 1+1 = 3. Sitting at the table together with strong, like-minded partners empowers us to push boundaries and build stronger, healthier brands through live experiences. Throughout EMS, brands lauded agency partners as the secret sauce behind their best activations. Partnerships based on trust increase accountability and maximize budget impact, resulting in a successful experience.

5. A short-term engagement will fall short of the mark. Think of your event as a stepping stone to the next connection point in the consumer journey.  Kai Witbeck, Event Marketing Manager, LEGO

Grow’s Take:
The conventional, linear consumer journey traditionally used to manage brand engagement no longer holds. Instead, it’s a continuous ecosystem, and it’s essential to think through how to maximize a consumer’s experience at every touch point of their journey with you. Instead of a tightly-controlled, one-dimensional peek into a brand’s image, brands that are authentic and porous inspire consumers through a multifaceted, reciprocal relationship and allows them to drive the conversation.

6. Respect the influencer, or fear the output. – Enuri Acosta, Lifestyle Communications Manager, Cadillac

Grow’s Take:
If you focus on engaging authentically and truly connecting with an influencer at their level, they’ll feel genuinely inspired to share through their own channels, resulting in an organic, powerful brand advocate. In the past, we’ve invited influencers to engage in one-of-a-kind experiences that cater to their own unique talents, passions and interests. By learning how to speak to them and finding out what they really need, brands can inspire participation that feels organic, deeply personal and authentically memorable.

7. Start with what you want people to leave with. If you can marry that with the intent of your business goals, your path will be set. – Stacy Lambatos, Senior Director of Global Event Marketing & Strategy, AOL

Grow’s Take:
You have to start at the end to determine how you want to begin. The first thing we ask our clients during a kickoff is “what does success look like?” Once we know the end goal, our priorities fall in line. Are we driving overall brand awareness? Building advocacy? Or is it all about ROI? Not all priorities can sit side by side, so identifying a clear end game gives clarity when making choices.