Prepare for Impact: Do Live Experiences Really Drive Business Results?

Experience marketers should maintain a consistent, high-quality, and relevant presence across touchpoints, interactions, and experiences, writes Jessica Quiney.

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2024 was expected to be another year of tight budgets. At the start of the year, the question on everyone’s lips was: how can marketers do more with less? People managing experience marketing budgets have been grappling with questions such as: do live experiences really provide a good return on investment and can we prove this to business leaders?

As we approach the middle of the year, marketers are certainly feeling the pressure of this reality. Across all industries – from music festivals to B2B conferences – jobs cuts, shrinking budgets, and a cautious approach to committing to the frequency, size and scale of events are common challenges that have dominated discussions among marketers.

While large flagship events are still booming in the US, they haven’t bounced back post-pandemic in quite the same way in Australia. When it comes to sharing content around the world, global brands are exploring other ways to reach their audiences that don’t necessarily involve the costly exercise of taking these events on the road. The opportunity for local experience marketers is to maintain a consistent, high-quality, and relevant presence throughout a new array of touchpoints, interactions, and experiences.


 

But how do we prove the value of these to the CFO looking to tighten the purse strings? How do we prove that despite the allure of automation and AI-driven interactions, the power of genuine human interactions helps brands to create deeper, more meaningful connections with their audience?

Experience marketing has lagged behind other marketing tactics in terms of the sophistication of its approach to measurement, despite the fact that experiences are often one of the most critical moments used to identify leads and close deals in the B2B sales journey. However, with the historically large spend behind events and experiences, proving ROI is essential.

The pandemic prompted a renewed focus on numbers, metrics and measurable outcomes, accelerated by the benefits gleaned from digital marketing when events were forced to virtualise. The opportunity now is to define what this could, and should, look like moving forwards, particularly when it comes to translating numbers into insights and optimisation recommendations.

In addition to the undeniably important financial metrics, other indicators of success such as brand reputation and loyalty, the depth and quality of relationships, and resilience amid market volatility will play an increasingly significant role. This is one of the things that stood out to me as I judged the entry submissions for the APAC Effies 2024. The winners will be announced in September and this year is set to be a bumper crop.


 

My key takeaway from the experience of being a juror is that it really is time to measure what matters. Before launching into a case study or any award submission and dutifully listing out everything under the sun that was tracked and evaluated, the submissions that shine are the ones that are more pointed about what success looked like at the outset of the project and double down on evaluating only the KPIs that really matter.

My advice to marketers would be to pause and ask yourself: of all that could be measured, what are we measuring and why? Because what we measure affects what we do.


Jessica will take part in the launching of a new report – “Prepare For Impact: Do live experiences really drive business results” from George P. Johnson ANZ. You can learn more about the event, that takes place on Thursday 27 June, here.

 

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