Three ways to step up your conference game

Internal corporate events used to mean a slow death by PowerPoint punctuated by breaks for terrible coffee. They reflected the old model of employee engagement – lip-service paid to company culture by begrudging managers to a bored audience once a year, if at all.

That’s all changed in the last few years as businesses wake up to how important these moments are for selling their brand to their teams. Deloitte has even set up 368, an in-house creative agency purely focused on employee engagement.

But getting it right means putting the focus on the audience – your employees. So, how do you do it?

1: Dramatise your brand

Develop events that create relatable, resonant experiences which let people live the brand messaging for themselves.

We took this approach to help Nike Football launch their 2018 range to 200 senior buyers from around the world. To show how the brand had developed its product design through consumer insights, we put on two days of events, performances and tech-based experiences that let the guests explore the products in new and surprising ways. Crucially, it gave everyone a personal brand experience they could relate to on an emotional level.

These talkable, shareable moments landed the client’s key messages, making the launch a commercial success in business-critical World Cup year.

2: Gamify your event

To make your event truly memorable, put interactivity at its heart. Letting people play in a group raises engagement and keeps them entertained. They’ll internalise your messages more readily, and you’ll create shareable bonding moments that help with team cohesion.

Our work on the 2018 Apple Ambassador conference tapped into this insight to make networking fun. We gave guests from all areas of the European business community the chance to win an Apple Watch as a reward for making connections at the conference. This created a reason to come together and talk with their peers in other companies and industries, while introducing enough of a competitive element to keep things interesting.

The response from delegates showed how disrupting potentially formulaic events with moments of play can have a real impact on your audience – and on their response to your messaging.

3: Amp up the FOMO

If you really want your employees to love your brand, give them an experience so good their friends will be devastated they weren’t invited to the party.

That’s what we did for Converse EMEA’s biggest-ever B2C brand activation, the Converse One Star Hotel. We took over an East London building and filled it with unique, co-created interactive experiences – including playing backgammon with rapper Yung Lean and fashion shows that hijacked London Fashion Week’s headlines.

The unmissable event was a demonstrable hit with our 5,345 guests, who stuck around for a 40-minute average dwell time and spent a total of $55,000 in on-site retail sales.

But the wave of interest travelled even further. The event brought 40,000 new followers to Converse’s Insta and a whopping 1.7m livestream viewers – with social conversation and coverage revolving around wishing they were there. You can see the full case study here.

The takeout here is that peer-group affirmation makes your business more attractive to your employees. Do something for the team that their friends will wish they’d been at, or better still invite them in too. You might find yourself with new recruitment and business opportunities as a result.

Let’s recap

  • Immerse people in your brand world through experiences that dramatise your values
  • Use gamification to engage your audience and create memorable group moments
  • Make your team proud by making their peers wish they worked with you too

There you go – three ways to make your next all-staffer an event people won’t want to miss. Have fun, and don’t serve rubbish coffee…