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Category: Event Marketing

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In 2012 Red Bull took a risk, something it has grown akin to doing.

The company spent an estimated $30 million (about 1/10 of their sports marketing budget) to fund daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s 24-mile freefall jump from space. Yes, you read space correctly.

Four months later, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) confirmed that Baumgartner broke three official world records, and he became “the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall, without the protection of or propulsion of a vehicle.”

To further the event’s publicity, Red Bull launched live feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, embracing social media platforms whilst in their early stages to widen the range of the audience. The live webcast alone hit 52 million views in 50 countries, making it the most-watched live stream ever at the time. Yet, Long before this momentous jump from space, Red Bull CEO Dietrich Mateschitz saw the value in Event Marketing. The company’s success didn’t come from the taste of its drink.

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Before Red Bull

For Mateschitz, branding was always the #1 priority in business. For the company to launch an entirely new kind of product (energy drinks), Mateschitz had to find an alternative path towards popularity. He couldn’t sell Krating Daeng, the foreign, wonder drink from Thailand that cures jetlag without first westernizing it, carbonating it and developing a brand around it that fully captured what made it different.

Mateschitz was an adventurer at heart with a knack for exposure. His attitude made it possible for Red Bull to find its wings. Early on, he knew it was important to separate Red Bull from the pack of soda, coffee and juice brands. He pushed the company towards a unique, bad boy image. Why should Red Bull advertise like the others if it isn’t like the others? Within a couple of years, the company was at the forefront of western, youth culture. Since its conception, the brand has brought people to the product, not the product to the people. This philosophy is a natural byproduct of Mateschitz’s extreme lifestyle and what sets him apart as a marketer. 

Before the official release of Red Bull, the first thing the company did was test its reach with event marketing on college campuses. Energy drinks weren’t popular and traditional advertising was expensive, so Mateschitz drew up a brilliant plan to pay student leaders to hand out free Red Bulls from their Red Bull-themed MINI Coopers. Students instantly took a liking to the effects of the funky drink, attributing its powers to productivity in the library and energy in the bars. As the drink quickly gained in popularity, Mateschitz began planning his next steps to take Red Bull’s event marketing to the next level.

Extreme Sports and Event Marketing

After a few years of successful market testing, Mateschitz officially launched Red Bull GmbH with co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, the creator of Krating Daeng. A year after the launch, Mateschitz took on his next task – Interactive Event Marketing. Teaming up with Olympic skier Werner Grissman, Red Bull sponsored the Dolomitenmann, a monster, team marathon event held in Lienz, Austria, which involved mountain running, mountain biking, paragliding, and kayaking. This annual event was quickly recognized as the unofficial World Cup of Extreme Sports. The first race had just 51 participants, but it was Red Bull’s first venture into extreme events, the path it would fully embrace in the coming years.

Although the Dolomitenmann garnered positive attention within adventurer circles, Red Bull needed to reach a wider audience. Mateschitz struck gold when he created the Red Bull Flugtag. This flying cart competition brought groups together to test their inner DaVinci and fly their fancy, DIY flight contraptions powered by muscle, gravity and imagination over a body of water. It also brought huge crowds, which meant more exposure to people unfamiliar of the brand. In 2012, the Flugtag held in Cape Town, South Africa drew a crowd of 220,000 people.

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These two events were early demonstrations of the path Red Bull was blazing towards. Each year brought in new events and competitions, which in turn brought in new fans for Red Bull. Once revenues increased more steadily, Red Bull began sponsoring athletes, creating teams, and financing barrier-breaking stunts. Red Bull’s mission to make its energy drink synonymous with over-the-top events and feats was genius. As long as they could keep up their bad boy image, the crowds would flock to the events.

By the early 2000’s, Red Bull had become a well-oiled machine of ideas and execution, but Mateschitz was itching to create a worldwide, front page news event. He wanted to break a BIG barrier. The Stratos Jump was that event.

Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Team rigorously prepared the stunt for more than half of a decade. In less than 10 minutes, Baumgartner had landed, the entire spectacle was over, and history was made. This momentous jump spiked YouTube’s subscriber numbers from 300,000 to 2.5 million overnight.

Redbull’s Event Marketing Today

Since the Stratos Jump, Red Bull has continued tapping into the buzz with extreme sports, extreme stunts, music festivals, and pretty much anything else it can reach. Its high energy, high risk, high performance lifestyle image isn’t without its drawbacks, but in terms of exposure, Red Bull has never ceased to amaze. And, this is a testament to Dietrich Mateschitz’s philosophy.

In an interview with Fast Company regarding Red Bull, he explained,

“It is an invitation as well as a request to be active, performance-oriented, alert, and to take challenges. When you work or study, do your very best. When you do sports, go for your limits. When you have fun or just relax, be aware of it and appreciate it.”

Without Mateschitz’s full-throttle, hands-on approach to media, Red Bull wouldn’t have lasted. The world wouldn’t have watched Travis Pastrana fly a rally car 269 feet or skydive without a parachute live. The world wouldn’t have seen Robbie Maddison backflip in a car upwards off a ramp onto the famous Tower Bridge of London. Mateschitz created an entirely new drink market in the West, but more importantly, he created an entirely new culture. He has inspired the world’s youth to test limits and break barriers.

“Since the beginning it has been a brand philosophy and how to look upon the world, rather than pure marketing for consumer goods…” said Mateschitz. “The brand is supporting the sports and culture community, as well as the other way around.”

It seems a difficult task to up the ante from the Stratos Jump. The stunt itself has spun off a consequential ad campaign and a one-year anniversary documentary containing previously unseen footage. The Stratos jump reportedly increased both brand awareness and sales in the West while also helping growth in new markets such as South Africa, Japan, Saudi Arabia, France and Germany all seeing double-digit sales gains the year following the stunt.

But Mateschitz hasn’t taken his foot off the gas pedal, planning to develop a global media network which includes print, TV, mobile, music, and emerging media platforms. While a global media venture looks to be Red Bull’s steepest challenge yet, the company looks to lean on its plethora of events (like the Flugtag, the Red Bull Music Festival, and X-Fighters) to help build and promote its latest push into media. And they’ve already started looking towards the future. Instead of creating occasional “hits” that garner massive audiences once in a while, Red Bull is churning out consistent media from original web series to highlights of their intense competitions for viewers’ everyday consumption.

The original market of Red Bull from the 90s and 00s at this point knows the brand. Red Bull has always targeted individuals in their 20s, and since today’s 20-somethings consistently consume media, Red Bull is tailoring their entire media strategy towards building a new generation of Red Bull Devotees.

It’s working. According to Tubular Insights, Red Bull generated more than 2.5 billion views and 50.2 million engagements in 2016, making it the #1 most watched brand across platforms in 9 of 12 months of the year. It was #2 behind LEGO during the other three months. In 2015 (the most recent info available by Tubular Insights), Red Bull sold $6.6 billion worth of Red Bull, a direct product of their lifestyle brand advertising. While most companies today might not have the freedom of creating an entirely new market, there’s a lot to be learned from the massive growth attributed to Mateschitz extensive event marketing campaigns that have endured over the last three decades.

Since its birth as a female-first dating app, Bumble has expanded into also being a networking app.

Now, in addition to dating, it is used for meeting other professionals and making friends. Because the company has transformed into an all-encompassing networking service, Bumble has transitioned much of its branding campaign to in-person events.

65% of brands report a boost in sales, brand awareness and customer loyalty as a result of experiential marketing events. Bumble hosts events on campuses, in restaurants, in bars, and other social areas, heavily promoting meeting people in real life as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors and more fully control the narrative with their app experience.

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“Experiential events help us engage with the audience and promote the values Bumble holds so close to hear such as inclusiveness, friendliness and positivity,” says Bumble Spokesperson Michelle Battersby.

These events don’t have to be record setting or incredibly expensive. Sometimes they are just set up as plain old marketing events with special drink prices, or trivia nights. But, sometimes Bumble goes hard.

Recently, Bumble held a Make the First Move event in NYC, unveiling a new mural painted by New York Artist Queen Andrea. Eventgoers were encouraged to share a time when they made the first move, a simple idea with an important aesthetic component. Make the First Move briefly pushed people out of their comfort zone (a theme synonymous with dating) and gave a sense of community to Bumble users, while promoting local art and providing quality Instagram opportunities. A+.

In 2017, Bumble created a pop-up called the Bumble Fab Lab in Sydney, Australia – a spinoff from Bumble’s temporary NYC and London brick and mortar spaces called “The Hive.” It provided a 30-minute happy, multi-sensory experience for Bumble users who attended. It had four rooms, each representing a different positive sensory experience. One room with its walls covered in beautiful, aromatic yellow and white flowers (an amazing Instagram aesthetic) represented Smell.

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The next room, Relaxation, provided a peaceful VR beach experience sponsored by the Sydney mindfulness studio The Indigo Project. Continuing the mindful trend was the Gratitude Room where people wrote down what they were thankful for on honeycomb paper, posting their messages on the wall and donating to one of the three charities Bumble was offering. The final room was Taste. Bumble partnered up with the famous Australian gelato shop Gelato Messina to create two limited edition flavors with ingredients that literally boost serotonin. This whole experience was free of charge as long as you could show your Bumble app at the door.

“Life’s short and at Bumble we believe in the power of positivity so you can become the best version of yourself and feel confident to make the first move in all areas of your life,” says Battersby. “Through the Bumble Fab Lab, we wanted to create an experience that would fill Sydneysiders with happiness – a space where they can share the love with their friends, families and colleagues.”

Bumble understands its brand reliance on an inclusive image, as many brands do. They have made it a top priority to be seen as much as possible, especially by Millennials, college students. So, Instagram, the app that has cornered the image-based social media market, was the obvious match for Bumble’s vision. Bumble’s Instagram posts – mostly well-edited relatable quotes and memes – encourage positivity and compassion. Their tagged posts come from Bumble Honey’s promoting the app and Bumble users who love the empowering, supportive lifestyle brand.

Bumble has gone above and beyond just a dating app.

If you email them, they will come. Only if you send the perfect event emails. Here’s 8 strategies to sending those killer event emails.

Send Short, Catchy Subject Lines

While the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an empowering and inclusive phrase for children, it doesn’t translate to the world of event marketing. You’re in the business of making money and the only way to make money is by selling your product. Nowadays, certain companies can get away with selling bottom-shelf experiences through top of the line marketing campaigns, especially events. This is in no way an excuse to not focus on your product. It’s a reason to focus on your message; even more, your first impression. And for many of your targeted customers, your email subject lines act as that first impression. The subject line is a pass-fail test. Personalize subject lines to your targeted groups’ interests, keep them short enough to read in a single breath and make them interesting.

Speaker/Artist/Performer Spotlight

Spotlight your event’s main speakers. Sometimes, a photo with a blurb about your speaker can go a long way in an email. It should be short attention span sensitive, supplying a digestible amount of information and offering links to read more on your website.

One of the best ways to reel people in to signing up or to retain interest in your event is to spotlight speakers/performers who will be featured at the event.

Adding video is considered one of the most effective practices to boost your email conversion rates. Video is everywhere now. Even the New York Times has video above their long form articles because people are drawn to easy consumption.

Embed Testimonials

Even if your company boasts the greatest event of all time, even if critics raved about last years’ event, people still want to know what ordinary people think. It’s a matter of trust. People tend to be skeptical when it comes to being marketed to. They feel like they can see through your mirage. Your subscribers want to know how Tom liked your interactive product unveil. How about Sharon? With 2-3 personal anecdotes about your event, people will surely feel much more comfortable about taking part.

If this is your first event, don’t fret. Showing product/service or speaker/performer testimonials are solid alternatives. People just want to hear from people.

Be Deliberate with Your Message

After your subscribers enter your email, you need to inform them what your event actually is – the meat and bones. This is a space for short descriptions, highlights and a deliberate Call to Action. Make your message LOUD AND CLEAR. Really key into how it will benefit your subscribers’ needs. Make it easy to navigate with your eyes.

Constructing a Fear of Missing Out

The best way to build interest and hype around an event is by making people feel left out if they were not to attend. You can offer priceless career opportunities, raffles for 1-on-1 lunch with an industry leader, or an exotic location. By highlighting the elements that are fun or once-in-a-lifetime career opportunities, it will be hard for them to ignore your email.

Rule of Three

Chaotic emails suggest a chaotic event. To keep your emails simple, follow the “Rule of Three.” Create three sections in your email. Each section should offer essential information to the event and each section should cooperate with the other sections both intellectually and aesthetically. Event information and aesthetic should carry a consistent theme throughout the entirety of the email. The sections allow the reader to organize their thoughts meaningfully and create a clean message for your viewers.

Plan Your Event Marketing Email Sequence

One of the pillars of rock-solid event email marketing strategies is personalization. You want your subscribers to read every email you send them. To do that, your emails must fit their actions and be relevant to the event you’re marketing for. A great way to avoid spamming your subscribers is to create funnels based on your email subscribers’ activity. At first, you have no ticket buyers so you send out sales emails. Now, you’ve made a few sales. Do you want to keep trying to sell the event to people who are already going? No. You only want to send sales emails to potential buyers.

For subscribers who have already paid for your event, keep them interested with insight on the event. Consider promoting various event upsells such as a private lunch with industry leaders. Feed them more detailed information and don’t bog them down with a sales-y approach. When targeting potential buyers, be more direct with your approach. Send them urgent deals. Maybe even split potential buyers into multiple categories based on their activity. At the very least, separate your buyers and potential buyers into different funnels. By analyzing subscribers’ activity, you can pinpoint where their action process is, and you can send them appropriate emails.

Recap Emails

Sending recap emails is a wonderful way to capitalize on event momentum. When holding a multi-day event, you might send a recap after each day with highlights and opportunities for online engagement. This can remind people of tidbits they learned and objectives they need to reach. Include an attachment with details of a speaker’s main points and show highlights of what went on at the event.

Eventgoers might even be willing to pay for your company’s next event if you have a date and a place set and supply a CTA in the email. It doesn’t hurt to ask eventgoers to keep the good times rolling. Maybe even give them a discount incentive for making an early decision. The classic Early Bird Discount for those Type-A’s who know what they want can help close some leads ahead of time.

A Message from a CEO or Founder

When subscribers see direct messages from the top of the hierarchy, they are likely to feel more emboldened to take action. Higher-ups know the company. They are the experts of the culture and the vision, and they are often disconnected from communication with consumers. So, if you can offer consumers the unmatched wisdom of a Founder, Creator, or CEO of your company, they are going to eat that up.

Having a higher-up send a personal message shows care. They are willing to take the time out of their busy day to offer subscribers unmatched customer service. They can provide a personal anecdote or a meticulously engineered quote. It’s truly more about the gesture than the substance.