News From

May, 2005


Event and sponsorship marketing is the single most effective way to reach and move audiences.

That, according to PROMO magazine, which said events provide the best return on investment of any promotional tactic.

So what are you waiting for? Figure out how you can use events to reach your constituents. Start the process now to use events that generate a vibrant, emotional connection with customers and potential customers, events that build employee pride and passion.

Events can be successful in driving your marketing communications in ways that traditional media cannot.

Generate understanding and involvement
When John Hancock became an Olympic sponsor, those of us in Hancock's sports marketing department quickly moved to garner the support of our employees so they would understand why precious resources were being directed to this sponsorship.

Half a dozen Olympic athletes, including the great runner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and basketball standout, Rebecca Lobo, came to meet our employees, playing twice to full houses in the company auditorium. Highlight videos introduced the athletes who spoke from the stage, then greeted and autographed photos for hundreds of our employees.

An employee survey revealed that 85% of John Hancock employees were pleased to work for John Hancock "because of the company's Olympic sponsorship."

A similar program for field agents resulted in even stronger returns with 92% feeling positive about working for John Hancock, and 99% of the company's top producers proud to be associated with the company because of its Olympic sponsorship.

Even if you are not introducing an Olympic sponsorship, when should you use events?

When should you use events?
You should use events when you want to communicate in personal, powerful, interactive ways.

Use events to:
  • Introduce a new product or service or product upgrade
  • Announce a new company initiative
  • Expand into new territories
  • Integrate the employees of newly acquired or merged companies
  • Celebrate a company anniversary
  • Enhance the reputation of your CEO and your company
  • Provide product information to people who use your products
  • Celebrate a successful quarter or year or the completion of a project
  • Target your marketing
  • Position your company as a community leader
In other words, use events when you market your company.

Events are about interaction between you and your audience, so look carefully at how you structure that contact. For example, many effective sports marketing activities include the opportunity to meet sports celebrities.

Nothing beats the personal touch
People love to meet stars, and a great many of John Hancock's promotions put our guests in direct contact with well-known athletes. Our guests met former Red Sox greats and had baseballs signed by them. Others played a par three hole against an active PGA tour pro at a golf outing. Still others mixed with Olympic gymnasts at our sponsored party at INC Magazine's annual get together. There is nothing like creating that personal experience for your guests.

Your competitors may already be employing events for their marketing. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store took its chuck wagon on the road with a tour by Grammy award-winning artists Alison Krauss and Union Station. And Wella and Sebastian combined for a 10-city tour in which models show off the latest hairstyles and makeup products for salon owners.

Design events for your specific audiences
Sometimes you will develop events that reach a very small specific audience, for example, electro-chemical engineers who use your product. Or your audience may be broader based, perhaps parents of young children.

To reach young parents, Fisher-Price developed its 75th Anniversary Celebration 12-city tour that features two 60' x 60' traveling play areas. A company spokesperson said, "It helps parents remember how special the Fisher-Price experience was for them and how meaningful it still is for their children."

Other audiences might include the opinion leaders and government officials who can have major impact upon your endeavors.

According to a PROMO survey, brand marketers spent $166 billion on events in 2004, an increase of 9% from the year before. That's billions spent using events and sponsorships to drive marketing communications.

Funding requires creativity
Be creative in how you resolve your concerns about funding events. An analysis will show budget funds you currently spend that you can divert into events: advertising and direct mail expenditures, a monthly newsletter, counter cards, the boxes of logoed mugs in the warehouse.

If you cannot demonstrate the value of any of these current endeavors to your bottom line, move those funds into the powerful field of event marketing.

Make events part of your total marketing strategy, not add-ons, or "feel good" activities. Integrate them fully into your marketing goals and they will effectively develop and cement your brand in your customers' minds and hearts.

You are not changing your audiences, you are just rethinking how best to reach and move them to action.

Throw your support behind a cause
Consider also tying your organization to finding a solution to a significant problem. Cause-branding guru, Carol Cone, says, "Now, more than ever, corporations and nonprofits are realizing the power of aligning companies and causes with significant bottom-line and community impacts."

The Home Depot helps KaBOOM build playgrounds and Habitat for Humanity build houses. And Avon elevated its image immeasurably, and raised tremendous amounts of money to eradicate breast cancer, with the annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

How do you create a powerful, effective and efficient events marketing program?

First, don't throw it on an already overworked marketing department. Or if you do, get them outside, experienced professional help who can do more for you then just plan the annual company picnic.

Get help to do it right
This is about finding a company who can think and plan and act strategically to incorporate a new, long-range initiative into your existing marketing communications efforts. Find an organization that can move you quickly and decisively into this new arena.

Finally, embrace events because they provide the best ROI for your marketing communications dollar.

Measure before, during and after to verify results. This is serious business and real money, and you deserve a real, measurable return for your investment.

Events can give you that return. Get started today.

* * * * *

Ken Owens is a member of the Kullberg Consulting Group (KCG), a strategic alliance of nearly 60 entrepreneurially driven marketing and marketing communications companies, whose service,, provides effective assistance to companies celebrating company or brand anniversaries. Ken headed up Olympic and Event Marketing for John Hancock Financial Services before forming Owens Marketing Group,, which helps companies grow using the powerful marketing and branding tools of events and sports sponsorships, and aggressive public relations.

KCG represents all disciplines of marketing and marketing communications, with combined experience working with over 585 companies in 21 major industry groups. The company celebrated its own 10 year anniversary milestone in 2004.

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