Brands and marketers could gain a lot from finding out more about the fans in the stands or seats. Millions of people enter thousands of venues every year across sports, music, special events, conferences and esports. A few hours later, they walk out. No one knows who they are, and the ability to communicate is lost. In the entertainment and sports business, we often spend millions getting them to come back next time—if we can find them again.
What’s even more distressing: We can’t send them to Taco Bell, serve them up a playlist to listen to on the drive home or reach out to them weeks, months, years later to tell them about new music, a new series, a new clothing line or wonderfully relevant product. Instead, we’re left to pay for and post to third-party platforms to create impressions we hope they encounter again this time around, and so are the brands these event attendees might love. Or we hope for the best with outdoor and other large-scale advertising. It can be effective, but it doesn’t generate a direct line for ongoing communication with the consumer.
Things are changing in ways that promise to bring a long-missing connection to the large groups of fans who ready, willing and spending discretionary income, bringing them closer to marketers in important ways. Direct-to-consumer platforms are the future, and the more robust your consumer profiles, the more you can know about them, the more efficiently you can reach them, and therefore, the more personalized a relationship you can have with consumers. This will reduce the noise of erroneous advertising and turn the focus to delivering more relevant content and advertising specific to their interests, across their online and offline activity.
Know the power of presence
The people in the room or in the bleachers are the committed ones. They have resources and desires that get them out there. They are not only likely to be loyal, but are enthusiasts on multiple fronts. You want to know who they are, what they like and how they feel. Instead of scraping their data using quasi-unreliable methods, you can find out from them directly since they are there and already invested.
LiveNation, in a recently released whitepaper, discovered via a diverse set of research methods that this live audience was notably more affluent, several times more influential in their social circles and, most importantly, big-time consumers, with 532 percent more likely to make a major purchase than their non-live event-going peers.
In other words, the audience is already a self-sorted, well-heeled audience more likely to yield robust personae and thus better targeting, even after the lights go out at the venue. Think of what events might best resonate with your campaign or brand. You don’t need to be a sponsor the old-fashioned way. And even if you have seen great results with on-site sponsorships or activations, you don’t need to leave it there. You may be able to reach this audience at a time and place when they are very receptive to hearing your message. They’ve shown up; they’re ready to listen.
How do you reach them? A combination of wearable and SMS surveys, short and sweet conversations that feel familiar, using the messaging service they use to text their friends is one option. But there are other tried-and-true ways to talk to fans, or to at least give them a one-way channel that gives you insight. Other live event marketers follow up with an email message to fans who bought a ticket, perhaps sending them a one-time offer on an exclusive piece of merchandise they might not otherwise have bought in-venue. Geo-fencing allows brands to target consumers through social media, and there are a myriad of mobile apps that, if downloaded, can serve up push notifications in-venue.
Engage them when and how they want to be engaged
Direct-to-fan marketing doesn’t always consider a key tenet of fandom: There are times when you’re open and eager to hear from the right people or companies. That moment not only makes the message, it associates it with feelings of goodwill and positive memories. At a live event, or basking in its afterglow, is often that perfect time to get a message out. The right timing, the right connection with a cherished experience where an advertisement feels like something very different from a traditional ad.
The timing will depend on the ask, but it could be right before the show or game starts, during a break or halftime, immediately following the event or in a window that follows even months later. With a live event generating first-party data, you know who you’re talking to and can time retargeting with precision.
Offer something real in return
Real does not necessarily mean physical objects. Though the platform we created uses LED wearables as tangible enticements for fans to engage with, we’ve found the key to getting response is to give them genuinely exciting experiences that amplify their own. The conversation starts by saying, “We understand there’s a lot going on in the world. Thank you for coming; we’re about to make you feel really special tonight!”
In our digital age, audiences want to experience real moments and deep connections. It’s our job to close the gap by activating the experience generation.