Avoid Four Common Experiential Fails - aka Hashtag Fail


Despite many marketer’s best intentions and well-laid plans, sometimes things just don’t turn out as planned. Here are the most common experiential fails and how to keep them from ruining your next event.

Fail #1: Thinking about Design without an Overarching Event Strategy

It’s easy to get caught up in what your exhibit or event might look like because that’s the fun and creative component. However, the most visually stimulating environment may not be the best one to communicate your message or represent your brand.

Smart, data-driven decisions start with an event strategy. With a solid strategy in place, you can be sure to pursue a design direction that will drive greater value to the business.

And being strategic doesn’t have to be complicated. Just take a step back, do your research, and articulate your objectives in a way that gets everyone on the same page. Start building your strategy by:

  • Understanding the organizational stakeholders who influence your event decisions

  • Researching or freshening up your primary business objectives, target audiences and markets, and overarching marketing priorities

  • Getting to know your audiences’ needs and behaviors

For additional steps to planning a better event marketing strategy, download our “Thinking Strategically” white paper.

Fail #2: Planning without Knowing your Audience

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. Understanding your target audience – who they are, what they care about, their unique needs and priorities – is the best way to make sure you’re delivering a valuable experience.

To keep your experience on target, develop buyer personas. According to HubSpot,, “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

In addition to identifying detailed characteristics of your key audiences, give each buyer persona a name. This makes it easier to relate to each persona and determine if an idea is a good fit for a specific target audience member. For example, rather than saying your target audience is nurse practitioners, create a persona about Sarah – a nurse practitioner with 10 years of experience whose biggest challenge is spending more of her time providing patient care and not filling out insurance paperwork.

As you make decisions, continually refer to your buyer personas as a check to see if you’re on track.

Fail #3: Using Technology just because it’s “cool”

Don’t be lured into using technology just because everyone else is. Jamie Barlow, vp of creative technology at Sparks, says to ask these critical questions before deciding on a technology:

  • How can technology help bring your brand’s best assets to life?

  • What specific action do you want attendees to do, and what tools do they need to make it happen?

  • Does the technology map back to the story you’re communicating?

  • How can you connect the experience beyond the real world touch point?

Once these critical questions are answered, choose the technology that will best support your goals and budget.

Fail #4: Not Planning for Measurement

Events can and should be one of the most highly measured marketing activities. There are opportunities for measurement everywhere – from the number of attendees or participants to robust analytics like ROI and ROO.

Effective measurement planning begins upfront. Ask senior management what matters most to them – especially when it comes to measuring what aspects of the event performance e meaningful or relevant to the business. Go beyond the number of leads and customer demos – statistics that only measure what happened. Find ways to measure the four metrics that matter in event measurement: pipeline opportunity, brand affinity, relationship strength and overall quality of the experience.

Avoid these four common fails and you’ll be well on your way to an effective and successful event.

Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.