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Julia Manoukian


March 5, 2018

How to Plan a Seasonal Sampling Event: A 5-Step Guide for Brands and Agencies

Julia Manoukian

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As winter draws its final breath, alcohol brands are busy making plans for outdoor brand activations. This summer, thousands of festivals will take place across the United States, providing beverage makers with ample marketing opportunities. Perhaps you've been contacted by a client to promote their products at a bar, booth or pop-up store at an upcoming event. If so, here's a step-by-step guide to planning the ultimate seasonal sampling event.

1. Find the Perfect Summer Festival for Your Seasonal Sampling Event

Choose a summer event that's a good match for your client. If a beverage brand is trying to market their products to Millennials, a music festival is a great place to start -- nearly half of all festival attendees are between the ages of 18 and 34.

If a client wants to target an older demographic, a food and drink festival might be a better fit. Here, you can connect with customers, provide product samples, introduce the brand and collect data from consumers for future marketing campaigns.

It's not just about age. You need to find the right event that will increase brand visibility. Austin City Limits, Firefly Music Festival and Lollapalooza are the three biggest music festivals by attendance, but smaller events can still your client with a return on their investment.

Sasquatch!, Electric Daisy Carnival and Outside Lands Festival have more expensive beer prices than similar festivals of their size, so if a client is willing to provide free beverage samples, you could entice lots of festival-goers to your experience.

2. Check Out Other Marketing Campaigns

Looking for a little inspiration? Check out innovative festival marketing campaigns from the past. New Zealand cider brand Old Mout got everyone talking at last year's Festival N°6 in the U.K. when they offered festival-goers an unusual queue-jump option -- a giant slide which transported visitors straight to their bar.

This provided thirsty customers with the ultimate photo opportunity, and many people shared the experience on social media. The result? More exposure and brand awareness.

Another buzzworthy festival campaign in recent years came from Southern Comfort, who created a golf-inspired experience at several events in 2015. The brand built a mini golf course, where customers could discover the best ways to improve Southern Comfort cocktails. There was also a bar, dance floor and relaxation area, which provided visitors with plenty of opportunities to take photos and share them on social media.

Think outside the box. Perhaps you can set up a mobile champagne bar or a tap room. Alternatively, build a drinks stand where customers can enter their information on touchscreens in exchange for a free drink. The more creative you are, the more chance you have of standing out on the big day.

Why not team up with another brand and double your chances of success? You could piggyback on another company's name and offer customers samples of your client's beverage.

3. Create a Schedule

Summer might be months away, but now's a good a time as any to plan your experiential festival campaign. First, you need to reserve a space at your chosen event. If you want to set up shop in a busy area of a festival, like near the stage, expect to pay a premium. However, you should expect lots of footfall at the bigger festivals regardless of your location.

You will also need to contact press agencies about your experience, devise your social media campaign and contact customers.

4. Choose a Data Collection Method

Decide on what type of data you want to gather at your event. For example, if you are planning to ask visitors to fill out a short survey in exchange for a free sample, think about the information you require. Do you want to collect names? Email addresses? Phone numbers? Twitter handles? All of the above?

Don't forget to choose a collection method, either. Asking festival-goers to input data on an app or tablet is an easy way to collect valuable festival insights.

"Gone are the days when paper surveys would take weeks or months even to upload into a CRM system before follow-up could be done," says Malcolm McLaren, writing for digital and social media agency Because. "Now, people visiting an event can be thanked for attending almost immediately."

Collecting digital data provides you with a 360-degree view of your consumers. The Institute for Financial Management and Research outlines the many benefits of digital data collection. These include automation, real-time data and data validation.

5. Measure Return on Investment for Your Event

There are several key performance indicators you should incorporate into your data capture strategy at summer festivals in order to measure return on investment. One of the most important is consumers' attitude to your experience. Find out whether customers enjoyed your live experience and whether it changed their perception of your brand. You can do this by measuring customer satisfaction via an app or questionnaire after your event has finished. Gather this data and show it to your clients.

You can also track purchasing history. Find out festival-goers purchased a product on your website after an event, for example.

Follow these five steps for a more successful sampling event this summer. By finding the right festival for your brand, creating a schedule, researching experiential campaigns, choosing the right data collection method and measuring return on investment, you can introduce your brand to a whole new audience and generate more customers.

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