Venue marketing expert Andrew White explains the power of ‘Brand Me’ and how your personality can amplify your message and bring your venue’s brand to life
By my reckoning I receive at least 20 emails from hotels or venues each day begging me to use their service. Add in ancillary suppliers, caterers, staffing and AV companies, and that’s another 10 daily emails, plus all the other random requests that come through suggesting I change my telephone system or cleaning contractor.
I’m not alone by any means. Our inboxes are all rammed with people vying for our attention and more often than not it falls on deaf ears. GDPR has had little effect, in fact in those last few days of the legislation coming into force, I was inundated with venues and suppliers saying they would continue to mail me unless I unsubscribed. It was a very quick change in tactic from the ‘you need to subscribe’ school of thought. Sadly it’s scuppered me having a clear inbox each day; I neither know nor care about holding my major conventions in Geneva, appearing at a property exhibition in Manchester or getting metres of rapid racking.
But apparently the information I’m being sent is of ‘legitimate business interest’ to me. In my eyes it’s illegitimate junk, none of which is relevant to me. It’s simply digital dross that’s being churned out and falling on deaf ears. None of the emails I’ll look at unless of course I know the person or source.
So how can a venue vying for market position stand out? Ask someone their favourite supplier or venue and they will immediately also be able to identify the people behind it. And if they can identify the people, they will very likely open the email, newsletter or digital marketing from them.
To succeed in the very noisy din of venues after business, not only do you need a fantastic product that exceeds the needs of your target audiences, you need a personality to engage with and to amplify your messages. Triggerfish has years of experience in helping clients get noticed and gain market share. From launching new events spaces, rejuvenating an established brand, or crisis communications to engaging with today’s online influencers, our tips to standout would be to bring your brand to life.
The market has changed significantly – years ago the more you sent out the more your message could or would be heard. Today we are inundated with messages, so if you want to be remembered, don’t hide behind your digital presence; have a personality because the one thing that doesn’t change is that people buy people.
Have a voice
To build awareness of your venue service and self, look for opportunities where you can be heard. The local media loves to hear of business success stories and the events trade publications encourage comment and opinion for its readership. Get involved with commentary and build a relationship with your media and in particular the editorial department. The more you comment, the more you will be asked for your viewpoint which can only help build your product brand as well as your inner ‘Brand Me’.
A sure fire way of being seen at the fore of your industry is to be part of the speaking content at an exhibition or trade event. Organisers are always looking for participants to take part on panel sessions and to share knowledge, experience and outlooks. Square Meal Venues & Events is a premier show for the London event buyer and its content is held in high regard drawing speakers from companies such as Secret Cinema and Center Parcs.
Join the conversation
There are numerous associations in the event sector and its worthwhile carefully choosing one to get involved with. Associations are clamouring for a voice and many overlap, however joining one and concentrating your efforts to voice what’s going on behind the scenes of the industry will again help build your profile.
Familiarisation (fam) trips, educational visits, recces – whatever term you use, these are a pre-requisite of getting potential buyers to see your product. However, competition to get people to attend is fierce. Even when they’ve confirmed they will come, be prepared for at least a 25% drop out on the day.
Events in the middle of the day don’t work – event managers and other departments are far more desk bound and accountable. However, our experience shows an event from 8-9.30am or in the late afternoon will generally get the numbers you are looking for. We find that an evening event clashes with personal time and unless it’s extraordinary and I mean EXTRA-ordinary you’ll be hard pressed to have a full complement on the night.
Historic Royal Palaces is an exceptional example as they have become known for their standout events with guest lists filling quickly and the numbers on the night always at max capacity.
What ultimately makes people attend? You. You are asking people to view your property, but they also want to spend time with engaging people. Therefore build ‘Brand Me’.
CASE STUDY: Kensington Palace Pavilion
As part of our wider PR activity for Historic Royal Palaces, we assisted in promoting the launch of Kensington Palace Pavilion – a new temporary events space at Kensington Palace – while vital renovations were taking place on The Orangery. Our brief was to raise awareness of the new space within the industry and showcase the space’s unique features and capabilities.
What the project included:
- Managing press invites to the launch event, as well as providing support on the night
- Social listening post-event to gauge the impact and track conversation around the launch
- Post-event follow up with journalists to secure content in print and online
- Over 400 attendees
- Widespread industry coverage across key titles which directly generated enquiries into venue availability – e.g. Conference News, PA Life, Access All Areas, Stand Out, Exhibition News, Sports & Leisure Catering
Target your audience
Social media has become one of the best means of targeting niche buyer types, from brides looking for a stunning space to festival organisers on the look-out for a greenfield site with transport links and parking capabilities for 10,000. Any communications need to be honed to the target audience and need to use the right platform.
From what we are seeing Twitter is increasingly being used as a complaint tool, LinkedIn is where most interactions and business is being done with event managers, Facebook can target weddings and milestone personal occasions, and Instagram is the default for anyone under 30!
With LinkedIn under your ‘Brand Me’ banner, get engaged with the conversation, comment and join groups that are relevant. Use video content and embed any promotional video you may have on your personal profile. And if you want to be really smart, live stream to potential clients – an online showround on demand has to be a winner.
Be seen in the right places
There are numerous subliminal ways to drive awareness, from presenting a prize at a local charity event, sponsoring the local business community annual event or helping the local wedding shop with a fashion showcase. Carefully conceived sponsorship can drive dividends and again keeps the product and service front of mind.
CASE STUDY: Absolute Taste
Absolute Taste sponsored the graduation lunch of female mentoring programme, Fast Forward 15. The sponsorship gave them access to 200 of the UK’s most influential female event professionals. In the run up to the event Absolute Taste was promoted as catering partner of choice and during the event they were given the chance to speak.
CASE STUDY: IET London Savoy Place
To showcase the venue’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) capabilities at the end of last year, we worked with IET to put together an infographic which illustrated its key successes and client wins in this area. This was shared across social media.
Share your news
Be sure to use all of your channels to amplify your messages. For example, if you’ve got new menus share them on social, with the local press and with the relevant media, be it wedding or events.
The ultimate stamp of approval is an award. There’s a multitude of awards to go for covering just about every eventuality! From Caterer of the Year, Best Team, Venue of the Year, Historic Venue of the Year, to Aspiring Star, awards are a sure fire way of cementing new enquiries and building market share. While the process and time to complete the application may seem laborious, it’s hands down worth it!
Ultimately the goal is to drive higher yields and more business. This requires awareness, but the din of digital is making it hard to stand out. What ultimately gets people to read about your product or service is the knowledge that they want to hear from you personally because you have personality and integrity.
Back to the age old premise – people buy people. It’s all about ‘Brand Me’.
About the Author
Andrew White is MD of Triggerfish Communications, a specialist in helping heritage venues and leisure attractions build awareness and market share in the business of events.