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Predictions for Brand and Event Marketers: Your Forecast for 2019

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Freeman

What we see in the next year for marketers

For years, marketing gurus have exhorted corporate marketers to know their audiences. These days, though, that’s beginner-level advice. Marketing in 2018 will require competing on an even higher level, where winning means not only understanding the landscape, but also masterfully leveraging the newest technologies and concepts to deliver powerful experiences that resonate deeply.

Our audiences are getting more savvy and informed every year — and their expectations are growing right along with their knowledge. The same old tactics are no longer enough, and if marketers really want to succeed in capturing the attention (and wallet) of today's customers, they must offer the kind of meaningful, memorable experiences that make them stand out from the pack. Adding in a constant drumbeat of new trends and technology means that brand and event marketers have a lot to master if they want to take 2019 by storm.

That's why some of our experts shared their outlook on what's going to be big in the brand experience space next year. Be sure to read all the way to the end, where you'll be able to weigh in on which prediction you think will gain steam next year!

Make the most of the human connection

  • Humanity is in: Events take center stage as insights generators

Alison Jenks, Senior Vice President, Marketing

Digital marketing may be an inexpensive way to blast out branded content, but live experience will continue to be recognized by marketing leaders as the only marketing channel that actually engages audiences in a meaningful way. Savvy brand marketers are realizing that events deliver actionable insights. According to the Freeman Data Benchmark Study, brands are using their event data to inform other marketing strategies.

  • Collaborating creatively to transform the world

Marc Pomerleau, Vice President, Global Strategy

Humanity is naturally inclined to grow, seek novelty, discover beauty, and create. As AI and machines take over more and more of the mundane tasks for our biological survival, we will be freed to pursue creative endeavors not out of necessity, but because it gives us pleasure. We are seeing the emergence of events that aim to transform attendees and the prospect of the possible through collaborative co-creation (think Burning Man, Beloved, Lightning in a Bottle, and even your local hackathon). The future of events is not about mere entertainment. The future is about unleashing the inherent wisdom of enlightened crowds to make the world a better place.

  • Authenticity: Online to offline

Claudia Stephenson, Vice President, Brand Experience

The rise of online services has given consumers choices; however, at the same time, consumers are demanding the offline experience. As human beings with a foundational zest for engagement, we need to showcase HUMAN ADVICE to cut through the digital noise. Not only does this need to be human, but it must be authentic. Authenticity and truth must be conveyed and transparent.

Creative engagement is key

  • Making play a priority at events

Marc Pomerleau, Vice President, Global Strategy

“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good.”
- Lucia Capocchione

Play is not just the domain of children. As learning continues to migrate to online channels, enlightened event designers will recognize the importance of integrating elements of play into the fabric of face-to-face activities. Play that involves movement, humor, and breaks down barriers will make us more vulnerable, more empathic, and by extension, more human.

  • Creating breathing room for attendees

Parul Shah, Strategy Director

Packing content sessions, booths to visit, keynotes to attend, and people to meet into two or three days can be quite demanding for attendees. I think events are starting to recognize that attendees need “brain breaks” as a means to rejuvenate and clear their mind. Incorporating emotional intelligence, or this “softer side” approach, means giving people time and space to breathe, reflect, and regroup before jumping into the next item on the agenda. Let them unplug, as rest periods are just as important as periods of learning and activity.

Extraordinary event details

  • Create a surprising space to extend the experience

Parul Shah, Director, Strategy

Gone are the days of boring and bland décor. We will see more spaces transforming into dramatic backdrops that anchor the entire experience. And décor can come in many forms — such as furniture, themes, and lighting — and it should reflect the personality and values of the brand. Sure, people come to learn and network, but why not amplify the experience and make it more memorable with unique and surprising elements? Some examples that come to mind include:

    • Immersive Entrances. Implementing immersion right from the beginning of an event by creating an experience that makes a statement that’s bold and beautiful. Whether it’s using unique shapes, materials, or structures, the entrance must captivate attendees.
    • Colors. Whether it’s used for wayfinding or to light up a room, color adds depth and dimension and ties everything together.
    • Movement. Whether its furniture or fabric, people are fascinated with kinetic energy
  • Sustainability — moving beyond compliance to creative

Emily Shaw, Director, Strategy EMEA

There isn’t a day that goes by without some conversation about sustainability — from improving lifestyle and office habits to alternative swag options in the form of bee and goat adoption (for clients who want to go beyond the T-shirt) — it’s always on our minds.

As we continue to review our own behaviours, particularly in the prevention of plastic pollution, our expectations of ethical business behaviours increase. It comes as no surprise then that our clients are looking to us to help inspire and guide them. With increasingly innovative solutions emerging — art painted with pollution anyone? — it’s our responsibility to imagine bigger in this space!

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