6 Big-Picture Rules for Event Activations

Mark Zablow, founder and C.E.O. of Cogent Entertainment Marketing, on creating “Instagrammable” moments and why lines can be a good thing.

By Claire Hoffman February 1, 2018, 7:15 AM EST

At the 2017 Voodoo Music & Arts Experience, Cogent worked on an activation for Casa Modelo that celebrated Dia de Los Muertos with live art demonstrations, body painting, and a Modelo sugar skull float.

Photo: Courtesy of Cogent

Mark Zablow is the founder and C.E.O. of Cogent Entertainment Marketing, a New York-based firm that specializes in influencer procurement, experiential marketing, social media, and content development. Clients include Best Buy, Hasbro, and Corona. Zablow has previously worked for Platinum Rye Entertainment, Track Entertainment, and the Gerber Group. He also lectures on entertainment marketing at New York University and Columbia University.

1. Study the marketplace.
Always continue studying the marketplace. The space around you is ever-evolving, and complacency will be your biggest downfall. Be proactive by
researching the web, seeing which hashtags are populating your social feeds, and most importantly, attending similar events and experiences in the space [you are working in]. Continue to find different ways to tweak your best attributes. Almost everything has already been done, so its not so much about reinventing the wheel, but more so about “remixing” the wheel.

2. Promotion is key.
Align with the proper local media partners and influencers to have strong attendance and gain authenticity by association. Know your market and know your consumer. It is a good problem to have too many people and a line around the block.

3. Work to create “Instagrammable” moments and one-of-a-kind experiences.
Give consumers a reason to talk about their experience [at your event] with their online community. The value of social posts has turned into “social currency.” Consumers are inspired and eager to share experiences with their network—the friend with the most engagement always wins.

4. It’s all in the details.
Every detail matters. Ensure your run of show, a.k.a. “dial list”/key performance indicators are solidified in advance, and that your account and activation teams are fully prepared. Both clients and consumers notice the small things that may have the largest impact. Attention to detail will create efficiencies across the board—including with your budget.

5. Use technology to your advantage.
Find ways to keep consumers engaged through the digital landscape. Create ways for consumers who aren’t able to attend on site to still experience the event. Real-time social content allows your activation to extend its reach to further build an online presence.

6. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Shoot for the stars and work backwards. Consumers are getting smarter by the second, so [planners and marketers] must provide meaningful experiences
to engage, rather than going with a cookie-cutter approach.

This story appeared in the Winter 2017 digital edition of BizBash.

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