1. Clarify your objectives. How many times are events created just because we need to ‘make some noise’? Firstly, carefully craft your message, identify the intended target and ensure this will help achieve your ROI. Once these simple steps have been taken you can get your team behind the project and start planning for success. Many manufacturers are happy to just achieve some brand or model recognition for a new model, but many need to accurately measure a real translation to dealer footfall, test drives and ultimately sales to show genuine ROI.
2. Put a process in place. Who are your key team members? Which vendors are best going to deliver on the key parameters of the event? Each element of an automotive event needs very different skills sets – ride and drives need to be carefully organized with a primary focus on safety and watertight legal documentation. Similarly, the way an event is lit or produced can have an instant effect on the consumer perception. Surround yourself with the right expertise and resources, line them up behind your common objective and then put a robust timeline and responsibility chart together. Regular meetings with specific agendas will also help keep your team and your agency on track.
3. Plan for the unexpected. If there is a potential for something to go wrong, at some stage it inevitably will. Have a backup and fallback option for all your key event elements and make sure that you have comprehensive insurance and liability coverage in place. When dealing with test drives for example, it is a good idea to check with local authorities/law enforcement about driving routes. Also, are there any potential competing events or road closures? It may be stating the obvious, but what are you planning to do if the weather doesn’t cooperate? And if you’ll excuse the pun – always do a ‘dry run’ to make sure that everything is set-up to your expectations and running smoothly, and all participants know their roles and responsibilities.
Check out this article featuring an event we helped implement with Bentley Motors in the Texas Hill Country. We did several runs of the drive route resulting in a seamless experience.
4. Make it memorable. What is the one thing that you want your customers to take away with them and then how can you make them take the next step to becoming attached to your brand? Planning a product launch? You could provide a traditional branded gift or sales incentive option, but why not push the envelope? Perhaps you could create a micro-environment such as a winter landscape where attendees could experience the product from a completely new perspective. One great example we were a part of was Volvo Cars of North America’s 60th Anniversary celebration; guests experienced a throwback of the brand with classic models at various dealerships to a party at Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood complete with actors adorned in 1950’s garb.
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You want them to share their positive experience with family, friends and colleagues via social media or just through their day-to-day interactions. Create a new brand advocate from everybody that attends your event. Plan on making the experience so personalized and special that they will want to spread the message. No matter how big the event, make sure that all attendees feel like a VIP.
5. Measure your results. If you put an objective in place from the beginning, then make sure you measure it in a professional way. Did your attendees understand your message, how did they act on it and what concrete results ensued? Do they think your brand is safe, stylish, reliable, or luxurious and how has this interaction changed their opinion? What’s their next step – product brochure, test drive or other interaction? You can measure these through tactics such as surveys on brand opinion (across a defined timeframe) or product familiarity/favorability (before and after a test drive). Two benefits of doing this: top line management will see a definitive ROI and you can improve, learn and develop for next time.