Have you been a part of an event that made you feel something? An experience that ever so slightly altered the way in which you think, work, or see the world around you? Incredible experiences don’t just happen. They’re works of art, meticulously orchestrated months, perhaps years in advance. Planned to minute detail so that attendees leave hoping to come back next year.
It’s an irrefutable fact that Sri Lanka – and our event industry – are changing rapidly. The rise of social media has completely altered communication, and the relationship between brands, people, and the media in between.
The definition of this change, however, has been quite the elusive task. Because change doesn’t happen in tiny little portions.
We don’t just age every year – Change is the small daily developments that add up to the bigger picture. And it’s that little and consistent nature of the change which contributes to the magnitude of an entire movement.
It’s become an industry buzzword, for this rapid change. While we clamour to find ways to keep audiences interested and invested in what we do, we seem to prioritise engagement.
In the quest for engagement, it seems immediately obvious to turn to events, because how an event achieves its purpose is through an emotional connection.
You might be able to fake a bit of sincerity in advertising, but you cannot fake a relationship. Real ‘engagement’ is what you achieve when you do it right, not something to try and reverse-engineer a crumbling foundation upon.
If the experience of the brand does not align with its message, then loyalty and trustworthiness are affected far worse than if they’d done nothing at all.
The truth is we must understand why an event is needed. No brand owner says ‘I want to put on an event’ for the sake of it as a solution is anchored on purpose.
No-one went to the Colombo Music Festival because they like set designs.
They go to Jaffna Food Festival because they love the taste of authentic Jaffna food.
And when you reach something with the success and reputation of The Galle Literary Festival, you find people don’t even care about the lineup or the authors – they go because it’s GLF.
“The first question every organizer should ask is, ‘What do my attendees need?’” Tommy Goodwin (Director – global field services | Eventbrite).
The purpose sings loud and clear without any need to shout about it and is part of the magic that builds such a strong feeling of unity – birds of a feather flock together.
An event doesn’t answer the question of why, but is the core of any successful event. Your brand is the overall experience, so you must answer the questions of how, what, and where so you can clearly facilitate the why. You can’t just put on a showstopper and ask people to care.
For example, something Selyn could do to fully solidify their philosophy for the inclusion of women could have been an in-store experience.
They could run an event, demonstrating the experience and expertise of these women with a seasonal twist – perhaps a day where some of the women who create their outfits help you find the perfect fit in a way that only a seamstress knows how. Perhaps building your own upcycled soft toy making workshop or a trip to the hub of Kurunegala to see them work for yourself – an event rooted in the purpose of the campaign.
Word of mouth is the best marketing tool you’ll ever use on your events experience for it is no longer what you say to people but more so on what you do to evoke their emotions.
Human beings crave diversity, and we are never truly satisfied with just one thing. We are now at an era where our attendees are looking for an authentic, experience that absorbs us and allows us to feel our emotions.
Events crafted with purpose and raw human experience at heart will always succeed.