How to create disruptive events

23 Apr 2017 Events

People have been talking about disruptive marketing for years, as intense competition has forced brands to shake things up and seek new ways to boost sales. But just what is it, and how can it give your events a boost?

Put simply, disruptive marketing literally disrupts your attention by doing something different. Something that changes the rules forever.

“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there.” Richard Branson

One example of a brand that does disruptive marketing phenomenally well is Red Bull. Rather than just promoting its drinks, the Red Bull website is a destination venue for extreme sport and adrenaline-junkies, with a plethora of content that speaks directly to its target audience. And it doesn’t stop there. Red Bull has also created its own documentaries, owns a record label, and sponsors contests. If that wasn't enough, in 2012 it even sent Felix Baumgartner spiralling to Earth in a record-breaking freefall skydive from space. It’s certainly different (and more interesting!) than taking out a few TV and print ads!

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However, being disruptive is hard to do. It takes creativity that goes above and beyond traditional ways of thinking. So, it’s no wonder that when it comes to events, many companies have failed to adopt this approach.

But, with more and more event planners looking for new ways to stand out and engage attendees, we can be sure that the power of disruption won’t go unnoticed for much longer.

So, how can you use disruption at your events?

Understand your audience

Insight into your target market is key. How can you reach out to attendees in new and absorbing ways if you don’t know who they are and what will appeal to them?

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Create a strategy

Disruption can be used to attract people to your events, and wow them once there. So, to maximise impact, produce a plan that will help you to do both. This means coming up with more than just a great creative idea; you also have to figure out how to execute it.

Create an experience

People’s event expectations are evolving. More and more they are looking for an experience, and they demand to be put at the very heart of this. Look at ways you can construct compelling multi-sensory experiences that evoke genuine emotions from your attendees.

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Exploit user-generated content

A cost-effective way to add disruption, user-generated content is slowly seeping into the fabric of modern events. From social media walls to gamification, this approach makes attendees a part of your event, rather than just passive spectators. That in itself is disruptive.

Don’t follow the crowd

It can be tempting to replicate great ideas you have seen elsewhere. And, while there’s no reason you can’t do this, be aware that this will make you an imitator, not a disruptor. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon, figure out what you can do to make your events unique.

Use technology

From augmented and virtual reality to social media, wearable gadgets and apps, tech is reshaping the world of events as we know it. Helping to create one-to-one relationships with attendees, those who can capitalise on the power of tech before the crowd will become natural disruptors.

Be brave

Sometimes, all it takes to come up with a great disruptive idea is to say what you’re thinking. Disruption doesn’t have to be expensive, sometimes it just needs you to be honest. If there is something everyone is doing that you know your audience thinks is a complete waste of time, that could be your point of difference.

Change perceptions

People go to events for many reasons. But, most often they want to generate and strengthen relationships, learn something new, and discover a sense of purpose. While the disruptive event stays true to these core aims, attendees should also leave with a fresh perspective. Disruptive events should change the way people think forever.

Add wonder

Add some surprise elements to thrill throughout your events – be that guest speakers, immersive tech, or simply something unexpected.

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And don’t be scared to make your guests feel a little bit uncomfortable. For example, you could ask delegates to complete a task, or turn a keynote session on its head and ask your guests to lead. Disruption shouldn’t be predictable.

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At Apex, we understand the immense effort that goes into preparing for events, and we work with you to help reach your goals and achieve a truly positive experience. If you’d like to find out more about how we can use disruptive techniques to make your events a success, contact us today to find out more, or give us a call today on + 44 (0)1625 429370 to discuss your requirements in more depth.

Paul Ashford

Paul Ashford is a founding director of Apex.co.uk and has over 25 years’ experience in live events and conferencing. He has a particular interest in creative communication and team dynamics and advises Apex’ clients on how to build teams and convey their key messages in visually stimulating and effective formats.

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Apex Event Management and Exhibition Stands