Why You Need to Create an Emotional Connection with Your Audience

Live events give brands an advantage when it comes to creating an emotional connection with their consumers.

This year, there will be a sequel released to one of the biggest surprise hits of 2017; a movie about a shape-changing monster who spends most of the time looking like a terrifying clown. In 2017, the film “It” made more than $327 million domestically and finished seventh at the box office that year.

People who like scary movies do so because they tap into one of our most basic emotional reactions – fight or flight – in a safe and controlled environment. We know that the scary clown isn’t going to eat us – it isn’t even real – but we still receive a primal jolt when it suddenly springs toward a character on screen. 

Fight or flight is regulated by an area in our brains known as the amygdala. But it’s not just “jump” scares, the amygdala also controls many emotions that are essential to survival, including positive feelings - like reacting to people we find attractive.

Basically, what the amygdala does is focus our attention on stimuli that we believe are extremely important at a very specific moment. After that, other parts of the brain take over and tell us to relax, laugh or smile.

It’s this type of immediate emotional response that you want to achieve as a marketer because it means that you have immediately grabbed someone’s attention. This is one of the significant benefits of participating in live events, such as experiential activations, brand experiences, and trade shows. Through these and other face-to-face interactions, you are better able to control someone’s emotional responses and forge a deeper connection with consumers on an individual level.

Here are a few steps to take that can fulfill that need and create an emotional connection with your audience.

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Grab Their Attention

While you would always hope to have your consumers’ and attendees’ immediate attention, there are so many possibilities to distraction someone – and the biggest actually fits in a pocket.

You need to grab their attention immediately, or you may not get it at all. For experiential marketing and brand activations, this can mean starting things off with a bang, putting your showiest item as the first thing most people will see. For trade shows, you may want an impressive display that grabs attention. This can often be achieved through good presentation methods, such as making eye contact, a confident manner, and a powerful greeting.

However you do it, immediately grabbing a visitor’s attention activates that amygdala brain response. So, now the consumer is locked in and you have those precious seconds that are necessary to retain their attention.

Know Your Consumers and Speak to Them Directly

Once you have your consumer’s attention, you have to successfully engage them to keep it. The best way to do that is to speak to them directly. The only way to truly reach your most valuable consumers is to know what their needs are and what appeals to them.

Attendees want events to recognize them on an individual level, which means that it is incumbent on event planners to understand their attendees fully. To gain this knowledge, comb through all of the data sources that you have available. Several digital marketing tactics can help you gather invaluable insights into your consumers, including:

  • Digital advertising

  • Email marketing

  • Social media (for both communication and advertising)

  • Retargeting campaigns

  • Event apps

  • SEO strategies

This is why data gathering and analyzing is now such a critical priority. Only by gaining this insight on your consumers can you can begin to speak to them through the medium they prefer directly addressing their specific pain points.

What this means for events is that you need to be very precise in your data gathering. Your event may be attended by hundreds or even thousands of people, but it can feel like it is tailored specifically for each individual participant.

Tell Your Story

Your story is told through much more than just words. It is conveyed through your brand’s colors and the images you choose. It is a story of font and medium. Yet, before you even start this tale, you must understand that you are only its narrator. The heroes are your consumers.

Today’s consumer is not going to become engaged in a story unless they can see themselves in it. That’s why, when framing your narrative, the consumer has to be at the center of it. Which is why you did all of that research to understand your consumers intimately. By knowing who they are and what they want, it becomes straightforward to address how your brand can make their lives easier, better, happier, etc.

As the narrator, highlight how your brand fits into their lives, how it benefits them, and what makes you stand apart from the competition. Because this is a story, you can’t just list the attributes. You need to cleverly include them in a way that is focused on the customer. 

However, just as every good story needs a protagonist, it also requires an antagonist for the hero to overcome. By positioning your competition as the antagonist in your tale, you can showcase what the hero could lose by using them, what your brand provides that they never could, and how you overcome even in the areas where is your competition strong.

Be Honest and Authentic

Today’s consumers are pretty savvy and are very attuned to how traditional marketing impacts their everyday lives (or how to avoid its impact, in the case of many Millennials). Not only do consumers have a strong ability to sense when brand statements are dishonest and/or inauthentic, but they are also pretty unforgiving once they do sense it.

A recent Consumer Content Report found that authenticity is more important than ever to consumers. When asked, 90 percent of Millennials, 85 percent of Generation X, and 80 percent of Boomers listed brand authenticity as being “important” to them. Additionally, 57 percent of the respondents believe that the majority of the marketing content they see feels empty.

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Consumers and event attendees today do not want to be sold to; they want to be engaged. Avoid the traditional marketing trap and…

Put Your Consumer’s Needs First

Often, event planners will try to build from the ground up by addressing what their company or brand has that the audience wants. However, this is entirely the wrong approach. The correct cornerstone to build from is what the audience wants, and how you can help them get or achieve it.

This puts the needs of the consumer first. It’s all about what your brand can do for consumers, not what they can do for you. The goal is to convey your brand’s importance by showing that you are a problem solver. This is how you build brand loyalty and create an emotional connection.

Because humans are social animals, we have an inherent need to engage in one-on-one communication. Consumers genuinely appreciate it when brands make that effort – and when they do it well -- that goes a long way toward shifting someone from a consumer to a brand advocate. If you’re looking for an events partner who can help you forge an emotional connection with your audience, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.

TTG Marketing