What is Event Activation and Why is it so Important to Understand?

One of the most common questions I get when speaking to potential and current clients is, “what is event activation? And why is it so important to understand?” It’s no surprise it’s a recurring question, as event activation is something we talk about multiple times throughout the day at USA Expo.

When running a successful event marketing program, event activation is a part of everything you do – but many involved in event marketing aren’t quite sure what it even is. At USA Expo, we think of it as a way to activate your brand or company through a strategic presence at events.

It is arguably one of the most important parts of your overall event marketing strategy, and in many cases, it’s important to leave it up to an event marketing agency or seasoned event marketer to handle. We have found the best way to optimize an event marketing strategy or plan is to centralize all aspects - as opposed to working with several different companies/vendors. It’s one phone call. It’s one contact.

Event Activation is a full turnkey process and covers every part of an event marketing program from start to finish, and all the very small details in between. It begins with establishing your overall event marketing strategy, from understanding your brand or company’s target audience to designing your display, formulating how to gather leads at the event, staffing your booth and much more.

Once you’ve nailed down your entire overall strategy, it’s time to take the information and determine which event or events will allow you to be successful. Need some help with that? Check out our five tips to choosing the right show to attend.

From there, it’s time to start mapping things out – literally. You may have several events occurring across the country, some may even overlap during the same time frame. So how will you get your display to each event on time? Will you need to warehouse it in between events? Who is going to install and dismantle your display? Will you have everything you need during the event (electric, internet, water, etc.)? Logistics and managing all of your assets is where proper event activation can really help you be more organized and save money on your total budget.

Finally, the last piece of event activation is reporting on the entire process – did you meet your goals and leads? How did the install go? Did you accurately estimate your investment? Taking a look at each part of your program and assessing how you could have done it better is a critical final step on the event activation journey. This will greatly help your company or brand in determining the ROI of your events!

So now that we’ve defined the entire event activation process, it’s clear why it’s likely the most important part of your event marketing program – but why is it best left in the hands of a professional?

Typically, event marketing is a secondary role to the person responsible. Event professionals know the event space, are dedicated solely to it and know how to maximize results. Plus, we all know that event marketing overall is an expensive endeavor, and any number of mistakes can cost you – literally. Without a full understanding of event activation, you can incur additional fees in any number of the steps. Here’s an example: the truck delivering your display gets stuck in a marshaling yard for four hours.

If you’re not prepared for a wait of that length, paying the additional four hours of the truck drivers time is the least of the resulting problem. A four hour delay backs up labor and drayage, putting your entire team behind schedule and resulting in overtime and rush fees.

A successful event activation strategy would account for those delays and keep you on time and under budget.  And if that’s not reason alone to embrace a full event activation strategy, we don’t know what is!

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