How to Set the Right Tone for Your Marketing Events

Would you give up a body part to keep your smartphone? It may seem like a silly question. But a recent survey found 10% of millennials would make that sacrifice to stay connected. Twenty-five percent took a less invasive route to hold onto their device by giving up one of their five senses instead. And they didn’t make the decision in haste. Sixty-four percent of them would forgo the sense of smell, knowing it has no impact on use of smartphones. But did they consider all they stand to lose in doing so?

The first thing they’ll notice, with no sense of smell, is food doesn’t taste the way it used to, or even be appetizing, since smell and taste are closely linked. Another thing they’ll realize is an increased safety risk since they can’t smell danger, such as that of smoke, gas, or chemicals. But the most surprising thing they may discover is that their memories aren’t as vivid. A Rutgers University professor and neuroscientist explains, the sense of smell “strongly influences human behavior, elicits memories and emotions, and shapes perceptions.” This is due to its relationship with the brain’s limbic system, which controls feeling and thinking. Consider the smell of sugar cookies at Christmas or the scent of grass on a warm, sunny day. For most, these conjure warm thoughts, happiness, and a longing for these times.

This is why scent branding – the development of a brand’s signature scent – continues to grow in popularity. Brands understand the power of certain smells and other multi-sensory experiences to enhance brand perception and increase brand memorability. Yet, brands don’t have to go to this kind of expense or effort to realize these olfactory benefits. Event marketing strategies, as simple as the use of scents, can set the right tone and elicit positive consumer reactions.

 

Why It’s Important to Set the Right Tone at Marketing Events

Think about the “mood” of a novel, which one website defines as the feeling the book inspires in the reader. It gives the example of a plot where people are stranded on a deserted island. “The mood could be Gilligan’s Island, or it could be Lost.” It all comes down to the author’s tone of writing. His or her attitude and choice of words make the difference between fun (Gilligan’s Island) or serious (Lost). Likewise, an event marketer or agency controls the tone of a brand activation. The elements you put in place control whether attendees at your marketing events laugh, cry, or experience other feelings.

It stands to reason that consumer and B2B brands will likely want to avoid making attendees cry (unless they are happy tears). Yet, the purpose of some marketing events is to highlight serious issues, such as in cause marketing. So, the right tone for these events is different than a tailgating event executed by an alcohol brand, for instance. Perception-related event marketing strategies help set the right tone – and consumers’ moods – to achieve the campaign’s purpose. But, it’s important to note brands must be careful to be consistent so as not to confuse audiences. Forty-one percent of consumers say that brand consistency is the most important factor when determining which brands they’re loyal to. In being consistent, they can also appear authentic – another must for any brand.

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Event Marketing Strategies that Set the Right Tone

These event marketing strategies help set the right tone for marketing events of all kinds.

The Right Aroma.

The Crest brand of toothpaste long ago proved the lasting effects of aromatherapy following a mobile marketing tour, which lured consumers with wafts of cinnamon and vanilla mint. One-third of visitors recalled the smell in post-event surveys. That may be due to vanilla’s proposed power to make people feel “warm, fuzzy, and nostalgic.” This is per an article that highlights the scent, among others that elicit an emotional response. Here are a few more and how they could affect attendees to your marketing events:

  • Lily of the Valley – Believed to relieve sadness and provide a sense of security. This could be useful for cause marketing events to bring attention to a cause but also instill hope.
  • Hibiscus – Said to be a “confidence booster.” This would be a great scent for networking events or brands with offerings intended to enhance confidence, such as beauty products.
  • Bergamot – Declared a mood balancing, uplifting scent. Marketing events that surprise people, such as a pop-up in a subway, could use bergamot to put people at ease.

It’s important to keep use of any fragrance to an appropriate level, as well as research scents to ensure their general like-ability. Also, when engaging in global marketing, be aware of cultural differences. For example, Americans associate wintergreen with candy, while those in the U.K. liken it to medicine.

The Right Look and Feel.

Event marketers and agencies can’t rely on any one element to set the right tone. For instance, research finds that people will “process odors differently depending on the other sensory inputs they receive.” It uses a sight-smell example, sharing that people find the scent of rose oil “more intense and more pleasant” when looking at a rose versus a peanut. Along the same vein, choice of color is critical in your design.

While staying true to the organization’s branding, you should take into account the psychology of colors to evoke the desired mood. For example, green and blue are associated with calm and tranquility. On the other hand, purple signifies wisdom and respect, which could combine nicely with hibiscus. Consider use of these colors in immersive environments, but don’t neglect other elements.

One of which is seating. Yale University discovered during mock negotiations with a car dealer that participants were likely to offer several hundreds of dollars more than people seated on hard chairs. It says this shows how the brain interprets physical comfort as part of their “broader well-being.” HP’s Antarctic Dome at Coachella 2018 gives us a great example of use of multiple event marketing strategies to set the right mood. In the middle of the desert, it provided a cool escape, more so than its temperature. The scene was monotone and tranquil to allow people to relax, as well as to direct their attention to the 360-degree scene. There, guests enjoyed a digital show from soft, bean bag chairs.

Color is one of the critical event marketing strategies

The Right Sounds.

Next, the classic mood-setting device: music. Music is shown to stimulate areas of our brains that influence memories and emotions. This means music alone has the ability to instantly boost attendees’ moods or conjure a happy memory. It’s why many nostalgia marketing strategies use music to align with different generations.  Adobe gave us a great example with a new Photoshop release that showcased the product’s long history. To do so, it set up four workstations. Each looked like it would’ve in 1990, 1994, 2003, and 2015, respectively. Participants not only worked with the versions from these years, they got to listen to music of those times, too, for an immersive experience.

Yet, when using music, steer clear of “sad music.” Research shows it may not make people sad, per se, but does induce low levels of arousal and results in mind wandering. Happy music has the opposite effect. Yet, your event’s goal should always be considered since the “tone” of the music will set the tone of your event. To give you an idea, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” won’t reinforce a message to consumers to cut down on their use of plastic.

However, even when the event’s tone is of a serious nature, the messages your brand ambassadors and other event staff convey shouldn’t be negative. A book reveals that “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” This means you’ll want to choose your words wisely to ensure attendees don’t walk away from your event stressed, or with a poor impression of your brand. 

The Right Human Touch.

The last point brings us to another critical element of any marketing event. And, that’s the staff chosen to interact with attendees. Their appearance, personalities, words, and actions all influence attendees’ moods. Who you choose to fill this role matters.

These individuals should not only personify your brand and its values. They must be professional and provide the brand consistency and authenticity consumers demand. They must also have high emotional intelligence to ensure they can interact with a variety of people with varied moods. It may seem like a tall order, but it’s one that can be easily filled when partnering with an event staffing agency.

A study has revealed that 80% of what attendees remember most is interaction with company representatives. That makes ensuring the right brand ambassadors the single most powerful event marketing strategy to set the right tone and elicit positive reactions.

At Elevate, we know people. Learn how we can make all the difference for your brand.

Author: Kelly Springs-Kelley

Kelly Springs-Kelley is the Marketing Director at Elevate Staffing. When she's not creating content or pondering the future of in-person consumer engagement, Kelly can be found hiking the mountains of Arizona with her 2 kids and 3 dogs.

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