By Michelle Bruno
Social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are windows into the perceptions of event stakeholders. Savvy organizers are looking more closely at these nontraditional indicators of brand value to obtain insight into how their brands are perceived by customers and lower marketing and advertising costs.
Brand value can be defined in many ways. According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), a strong brand provides credibility, helps to differentiate a business from its competitors, adds value to products and services, commands premium prices, and provides a vehicle for driving customer loyalty and advocacy.
There are a number of models for measuring the value of a brand:
Brand Equity Model: measures elements, such as the strength of the brand in the consumer’s memory and consumer perceptions and preferences for a brand
IPSOS Brand Health Model: looks at consumer perceptions, sensitivity to brand differences in a category, and perceived value compared to price
Research International Equity Engine: assesses whether a brand is deemed authoritative, trustworthy, and innovative; the extent to which a consumer identifies with the brand; and whether a consumer’s peers approve or an expert endorses the brand.
Brand value is as important in the trade fair industry as it is elsewhere in business and many of the same valuation principles and models apply. Event organizers can certainly invest in a calculation of brand equity by paying an agency that specializes in such valuations, but there are other ways to intuit whether a trade fair brand has value:
Recommendations: If an event isn’t worth attending, attendees don’t typically recommend it to their colleagues. Furthermore, recommendations (whether through social media, email, or word of mouth) can be a better measure of brand value because the recommenders have likely attended previously and developed a preference or affinity to the event.
Social presence: Customers perceive brands that are active—delivering compelling content (tell don’t sell), fomenting conversations, and providing on-demand customer service on social media channels—as being more forward-thinking, responsive, and valuable.
Social network: The sign of a good brand isn’t only the number of followers on social networks; it’s the quality of followers. A network that contains thought leaders, influencers, tastemakers, innovators, and “players,” especially when there is overlap in follower groups, points to a strong brand.
Social sentiment: There are many tools that can monitor and classify the sentiment (positive or negative) of social media conversations. Brands with the power to generate positive conversations about themselves are inherently more valuable than those that generate negative comments and discussions.
Lower marketing costs: There are some event brands so well regarded that they could quite possibly publish the dates and attendees would come. The ability to reduce acquisition costs for attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors is the sign of a strong brand.
Knowing whether you have a strong brand, i.e. that you are perceived by exhibitors, attendees, and sponsors as trustworthy, dedicated, innovative, and provide the best product, can have a direct impact on the bottom line. Tools that can provide access to the candid conversations and behaviors of stakeholders are as valuable as surveys and focus groups and relatively speaking, much less expensive.