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Being an Agent of Change in the Digital Revolution

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Nairie Papakhian
Nairie Papakhian

VP, Special Projects and Systems

Freeman AV Canada

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Innovation in brand experience also means knowing what already works

I entered the events industry in 1980. Back then, I was a woman in a man’s world at a time when brand experiences were little more than logistics coupled with boilerplate audio visual. Marketing was meat and potatoes, and the only thing digital was our alarm clocks.

Oh, how things have changed.

Today, events and meetings are multicultural, global affairs that draw equally from the online realms and the intense audience yearning for physical, unique moments. The marketing is year-round, and the tastes of attendees are more personal and seem to get more sophisticated with each social media share.

But that’s the essence of brand experiences and their benefit: change. Why exactly? Because when you create ecosystems where people can exchange ideas or experiences, something is going to change — in thinking, attitude, or behavior. We in the brand experience industry have the opportunity not only to tap into the shifts in consumer marketing and behavior, but also facilitate them for the benefit of entire industries.

As an agent of change, I have learned a few constants. You could call them best practices that have allowed me to participate in the continued transformation of my company and our industry. Brand experience is pushing the boundaries of change in marketing, communication, and beyond, and what I’ve learned over the years can help marketers expedite change from within, ultimately bringing value to audiences. 

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Knowing what does and doesn’t work

It’s hard not to notice that technology is changing faster than ever. As futurist Gerd Leonhard said concerning technology, “The next 20 years are likely to bring more changes to humanity than the past 300 years.” Today’s cutting-edge solutions often feel like yesterday’s technology by the time they’re implemented. To stay dynamic, I have three processes that keep our departments more in time with the pace of innovation, and can help any marketers as they introduce new tech to their experience portfolio:

Managing the existing: Not everything that glitters digitally is tech gold. It’s always wise to find out what is working now before making any changes or additions. That’s why we still use sticky notes at the office — they are convenient, easy to use, and help us iterate. What’s important is to always remain mindful of what is working and what isn’t, regardless of outside dynamics.

Innovating the new: Implementing new tools should not be seen or approached as a cure-all, but as an extension of your growing and evolving brand. The latest tech should fit both your internal and external applications like a glove and add a new capability or dimension that wouldn’t work anywhere else.

Creating the craze: As excited as we can get over new tech, let’s face it: humans would often rather stick with what works now rather than what will eventually work better. More than educating staff on new tech, it’s important to get them excited as well. Whether it’s 1980 or 2017, I’ve always been a firm believer in constant marketing and consistent communication to our teams so that they can become advocates for new capabilities and additions to the overall brand experience.

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Audience insights are key to change management

Knowing our customer base — and their customer base as well — is as essential as ever, perhaps even more so in an era of ad blockers and elusive attention spans. Today’s attendee wants a brand experience that feels individualized, exciting, and necessary, addressing their concerns, questions, and interests seamlessly. That’s why a one-size-fits-all approach to any marketing research is ineffective. Having a better understanding of the attendee leads to better market segmentation, which not only provides a more personal experience for them, but helps us create better results for our customers.

Keeping track of our customers’ wants and needs is also an essential approach when managing change both within and without. When our sales staff use tech systems to capture exactly what customers are asking for, they can provide exceptional service and create sales/customer dialogue that continually matures right alongside new innovations and offerings.

A bright future for brand experience

In summary, and with confidence, I can say this: change should be a holistic evolution — and revolution — where internal and external stakeholders are equally equipped with as much beneficial information and tools as possible, and lead generation goes hand in hand with meeting customer expectations. We may use various digital tech, but everything works best under the umbrella of one system platform and one inventory and resource management system.

How do I know this works? I’ve seen these best practices from great men and women work for positive results beyond my organization. I am not alone in being an agent of change in today’s dynamic and robust event industry. The timing couldn’t be better. According to the latest research, nine out of ten marketers agree that brand experience delivers strong face-to-face interaction and more compelling brand engagement, while one in three CMOs expect to set aside 21 to 50 percent of their budgets for brand experience. That shows the deep value that brand experience brings to the table, both now and as we look at the future of marketing.

Gandhi is attributed to saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I contend event organizers and marketers should embrace this saying on an enterprise level. I am very grateful to be a change agent as my industry evolves alongside our world.

To learn more about what brand experience brings to marketers all over the world, download the stat pack: The Value of Brand Experience.

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