There has long been a divide between old and new, or traditional versus non-traditional, in the marketing industry. The two schools of thought constantly battle it out to decide whose approach will have a greater impact on marketing success in any given industry. Can’t we all just get along? It’s about time we sat in a circle holding hands, singing Kumbaya, because marketing has come full circle and it has accumulated a lot of stuff along the way that shouldn’t be discarded.

Brands shouldn’t approach a strategy by deciding whether to focus on old or new tactics, it’s important to take an integrated approach. The lines between different marketing styles have become blurred and it is increasingly hard to find ways to implement tactics in isolation if you want to have the best possible outcome for your efforts. One thing we can all agree on is that marketing has always been about getting to know your audience’s needs and preferences so you can connect with them when and where they are most engaged. Consumers have come to expect more from brands and they need to be reached through multiple channels—an integrated approach to strategy.

Experiential and event-based marketing has been around for a while. One of the “old-school” staples, the goal is to create an experience for a brand’s audience that will engage them through the creation of a recollection or memory that will always be positively associated with the brand. The desired outcome is generally higher brand recognition and awareness leading to increased sales and referrals.

Characterized by targeting audiences where they are through their mobile devices, mobile was born out of the tech age. “New-school” marketers are driving the industry forward with the development of enhanced technologies and applications.

Knowing that an integrated approach to marketing is more effective, there are a number of ways that using integrated mobile tactics will enhance your experiential marketing efforts. Seventy-three per cent of people have their phone on them at all times and that number goes up to 87% if you consider just the millennial population. We are attached at the hip to our mobile devices, so why not tap into a hub that is designed to engage your target audience at the touch of a finger while you are engaging them face-to-face? There is no reason you should be competing with mobile technology because you won’t win that war. And if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

Here are five reasons to integrate mobile into your experiential tactics.

We live in a multi-screen world

We have become a multi-tasking economy. We check our emails during meetings and while we’re watching TV. We look up information about a product or person we saw on TV or in an ad. We shop while watching a movie. We talk to friends via text and social media while we are in the bathroom. The introduction of new technologies has put information and communication channels at our finger tips, and the convenience has created short attention spans and continuous curiosity.

It only makes sense to tap into this mentality to engage consumers through the development of marketing tactics that are designed to mimic this behaviour. Integrating mobile into your experiential marketing means that you are controlling the behaviour through the power of suggestion. If you know people are going to be on their phones anyhow, then give them incentive to be on their phones talking about you. It’s a chance for you to drive the conversation while creating a better experience for your attendees.

Implementation note: Have signage around your event with the event hashtag and social media handles.

Influencers are made digitally

The media landscape is changing significantly, so should your approach to generating buzz leading up to and at your event. If you consider influencers like YouTube and Instagram celebrities along with well-known bloggers you can create a hub of chatter that allows attendees to join in on popular social media sites.

Tapping influencers for your marketing efforts who are extremely active online will encourage your attendees to pick up their mobile devices at the event to share their experience. The key is finding influencers that are respected by your target audience, otherwise you won’t get the same effect.

Implementation note: Partner with bloggers and social media superstars and have them talk about your event. Where possible, have them attend and post live to their social channels.

Build trusted relationships

Mobile apps, whether developed by you or by popular social channels, create unique opportunities for brands to connect directly with consumers. Encouraging your attendees to use their mobile devices on- site can be a great source of user-generated content. You can livestream that content at the event and post it online at a later time. If you project a live Twitter stream or Instagram feed, not only does it add a great visual aspect at your event, but it also shows that it’s not just you as a brand pumping out your messaging. It’s third-party recognition that leads to generating dialogue directly with your target audience.

Your target audience needs to be able to interact with you so you can build relationships directly with them. To be memorable, you have to find creative ways to get your message out there repeatedly. Integrating mobile into your events will allow you to repeat your messaging in multiple ways.

This approach to your events will have a greater effect on your customer retention rates in the long term, which means that your event won’t exist in a vacuum and will be a part of your overall business strategy.

Implementation note: Have brand representatives roaming the venue, encouraging people to download the app (remember to have access to free WiFi!). Incentivize immediate download with a discount or contest entry that will have attendees checking in and interacting with the app at a later date.

We’re in an age of oversharing

When you are putting together an event, whether large or small, your reach is finite, limited to the number of attendees in the room. You have to introduce other aspects to the strategy. Integrating mobile tactics to your strategy will allow you to amplify the impact of the event using instant and spontaneous communications channels that are consumer driven. We are in an age of oversharing. You can’t go on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope, Instagram, etc. without seeing a picture of someone’s food, a bathroom selfie pic (that lighting though…), or an array of personal information put out there to show everyone how awesome their lives are.

Tap into this need for sharing by encouraging dialogue via mobile. Create opportunities and moments that are too good to pass up. While it is normally difficult to track conversations if they happen face to face, mobile channels give you the opportunity to gather actionable data and follow along with the conversation as it happens. Using a unique hashtag for the event and creating a way for people to check in allows you to interact with both your attendees as well as those that wish they were there.

Implementation Note: Create “inspiration areas” with highly visual aspects like a graffiti wall, on-site entertainment and other exciting and luxurious elements that will get your audience in the sharing mood.

It’s not all or nothing

There are many different ways to incorporate mobile into your event and experiential marketing tactics. Here are a few ways you can incorporate mobile looking at varying levels of investment of time and resources:

  • Low investment:
    • Use an event hashtag and generate buzz leading up to, during and after the event by encouraging dialogue on social channels.
    • Livestream the chatter at the event using a projection screen.
  • Mid-level investment:
    • Have a dedicated team (one or more people) interacting with people on social media during event set up, during the event and post event while tear down is happening.
    • Set up a digital headquarters on site.
    • Deliver geo-targeted content to attendees.
  • High investment
    • Build a branded app and encourage downloads at the event. This will have to be followed up with an aggressive and creative content campaign to drive engagement on the app once it has been downloaded and not in attendees’ faces. One in four smartphone apps are never used; however, time spent in mobile apps has grown 90% since 2013. If you can manage to remain relevant to your audience, a branded app is a worthwhile investment.

Implementation note: Do your research, set your budget and stay focused on your overall goals for the event. Success can be had at all levels of financial investment.

It is important that we as marketers adapt our approach to strategy to match where the industry is heading. This doesn’t mean abandoning everything we have learned along the way, it just means embracing a more integrated approach to marketing. Adopting an anywhere, anytime attitude to marketing will take your brand to the next level.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Direct Marketing.

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Candace Huntly

Candace Huntly

Candace Huntly is principal and founder of SongBird Marketing Communications ( Specializing in strategy, media and influencer relations, social media, content development and experiential marketing, Songbird works with brands to build creative and integrated marketing and PR strategies that generate buzz and overall brand awareness.

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