From pre-event communication strategies and building PR buzz, to attention-grabbing production and design, and user-generated content; there is much the corporate live events industry can learn from the fashion industry.
When you think of fashion, catwalks and gazelle-like models spring to mind. Not spreadsheets and profit margins. But fashion is a business; a mightily successful industry. In a fragile economy, fashion has defended its sizable chunk of consumer spending.
Fashion succeeds because it taps into people’s wants, not their needs. It’s a luxurious experience, and a lifestyle statement. Fashion is the only industry London, New York and Milan devote a whole week of events to. Why? Because fashion projects itself as fun, fabulous and constantly innovating. So what can companies learn from fashion for their events?
Be larger than life
CWT Meetings & Events’ UK head of events Charlotte Murray says: “Karl Lagerfeld is renowned for weird and wonderful fashion shows. This year his team created the ‘Chanel Supermarket’, which shows how much the event space, decor and theme can really create a wow-factor and put the product in the spotlight in an innovative way. In the past, Lagerfeld has also used merry-go-rounds and windmills as part of his catwalk shows, all brought to life by an incredible events team.”
No matter where your product sits on the glamour spectrum, you can still incorporate your message into a fabulous event that will get the industry talking, and make your business stand out.
Think of imaginative ways in which you can demonstrate this live at your event. Some of the wackiest collections on the catwalk are not even for sale – they are simply there to demonstrate the skill and imagination of the fashion house. Use your event to do the same.
From catwalk to corporate
Fashion houses use many attention-grabbing production techniques and continually push the boundaries of event design. Technology enables events to bring products to life like never before. This works best when planners include the human element. If you want to screen films or give interactive presentations about your business, don’t just show guests a video. Invite them to a “premiere” with a red carpet, champagne and canapés.
Use social media to capture your audience’s attention before and long after the event. Create an Instagram page for the event and use a hashtag to get your event trending. And if you have guests that can’t make it, consider making your live event a hybrid by including a virtual element.
Create an atmosphere
Fashion shows gain just as much coverage from who’s in the front row as what’s on the catwalk, so why not give your event a VIP edge? Try to get industry-relevant faces to your event who will add value to your guests. Splash out on a guest speaker who will guarantee RSVPs, or hire a band with the X-factor.
Fashion shows attract rock royalty, so make your guests feel like rock stars. Personalize invitations to make guests feel like their attendance matters. If they are well-known in your industry, have a seating plan and create your own ‘front row’. Send them home with goodie bags full of strategy-supporting ‘wants’ not ‘needs’ – linking to the event’s theme – rather than branded memory sticks. Providing transportation to and from the event will also make your guests feel special.
New, funky venues are the night-time haunts of the A-List, and often reasonably priced to hire during the day or on weeknights. Creating a buzz around your event leads to FOMO (fear of missing out) and will guarantee a full room. Managed right, this will add allure to your product or service, increasing its perceived value. Yes that’s right, Mr. Lagerfeld, we’re onto you.
From the CWT Meetings & Events UK & Ireland team.