Think Like a Direct Marketer to Monetize Events and Buzz

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George Popstefanov, PMG
George Popstefanov, PMG

When Jennifer Lawrence tripped her way up the staircase to accept her first Academy Award in February, it not only cemented her name on the Best Dressed lists and her image as “America's New Sweetheart.” It created a flurry of interest and demand for her dress designer, Christian Dior Couture. 

As you can see below in Google trends, the peak search interest occurred the next morning, when viewers went to work with her gown on their minds:



So, Christian Dior must have seen a monumental increase in their site traffic, right? Not necessarily. If you take a look at the first page of search results for “Jennifer Lawrence Christian Dior,” the first two links to go Perez Hilton, and the actual brand owner does not show up within the first four pages of results.

Struggles like this are far from isolated. Many marketers are missing an enormous opportunity in regards to capturing buzz and monetizing that attention surrounding major brand events, such as awards shows and sporting events. Beyond that, the buzz events created by brands themselves—major campaign releases, press coverage, collection releases, and product launches—are powerful demand generation occurrences for luxury and mainstream retailers.

However, we've found that the majority of the brands being featured do not have a direct marketing mentality, or a strategic plan in place, to harvest that demand. So, in addition to thinking like apparel, lifestyle and luxury brands, brand owners must also think more like direct marketers. They need to be prepared and tactical before, during, and after a major buzz event to take advantage when that demand manifests itself as social media discussion, search traffic, etc. Here are a few steps to take to capture and monetize the demand-driven moments:

Year-round efforts: 

Mobile and tablet customization:

  • According to Twitter, there were 4.2 million Golden Globes-related tweets during the 24 hours surrounding the 2013 Golden Globes. In terms of TV viewers, Nielsen reported that 19.67 million people watched the 2013 Golden Globes. That is roughly one tweet for every five viewers, which illustrates the way consumers are viewing and sharing these events.

  • Whether on a smartphone or tablet, consumers are searching, sharing, and shopping during major events. So, it's more vital than ever for brands to create a user experience that is customized across mobile devices and tablets, with varying screen sizes, resolutions, and messaging.

Ongoing efforts in search and social:

  • Of course, we would recommend that any brand keep SEO efforts laser-focused throughout the year. But, this is especially meaningful for brands with any type of representation in major buzz events, as they will see search queries spike before, during, and after an event.

  • It is essential to focus on content in your buzz monetization planning. We recommend creating a landing page, subdomain, or microsite specifically for your brand's event involvement with a buzz event and creating truly engaging and up-to-the-minute content for your customers.

  • Don't underestimate social media content's role in search preparedness. Earlier this year Bing announced a significant increase in the presence of social media content in its search results. Also, building a follower count in Google+ increases likelihood that your event-related Google+ post will appear in organic results.

Pre-event:

So, how could Christian Dior—in my original example—or any brand experiencing buzz of this type, capture that interest? The fastest turnaround for live events of this type is through paid search. So, pre-event:

  • Create actor-, event-, location-specific creative  (e.g. “Hugh Jackman Louis Vuitton,” “Clydesdale Superbowl”)

  • Watch and react to pre-event social media trends through paid search creative.

  • Create content on topics like award shows trends and best/worst dressed celebrities through the years.

  • Get creative. For an apparel brand, how about an image “histogram” of all celebrities wearing your brand through the history of events?

Live during the event: 

  • I can't overestimate the importance of having a focused team watching, monitoring, shifting and deploying planned campaigns live during buzz events. Simply put, the brands that have had success recently in this arena are those who have a team monitoring and capitalizing on the events as they unfold. Need proof? Look no further than Oreo's “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet during the Super Bowl blackout.

Post-event: 

  • This is where all of the preparation pays off—from being the first to post and own red carpet images, to launching prepared paid search creative, to using social media to promote your brands' involvement and drive traffic to your site. A good example is Christian Louboutin's use of Instagram, and self-created #SpotTheLoubies hashtag, to show its market ownership after recent NY and Paris Fashion Weeks. J. Mendel uses multiple social media channels to drive traffic to its year-round Red Carpet site section, featuring unique content and celebrity images that their affluent customer is seeking. 

I've watched time and time again as brands approach their marketing strategies in silos, and therefore put in place extensive promotional plans, sponsorships, press events, or mass media campaigns and yet lose the resulting interest and traffic to competitors, affiliates, or media channels because they didn't plan to harness the buzz across all digital channels. When brand marketers begin to think more like direct marketers, they can not only offer better content and context to their brand fans, but also engage the new searchers and buyers that result from their well-deserved buzz.

George Popstefanov is founder and chief idea officer of PMG.

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