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‘It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing’

That’s where I left off last time; what did I mean by not all functions are events and not all events are created equal?

Yesterday I was excited and honored to judge the 3rd annual Tomato Pie Day. I had the opportunity to relax and enjoy a couple of hours on a spring afternoon with some of the finest people in our city; Mayor Palmieri who is the one I credit for allowing me the first real chance to start my business. For the first time that I can remember, we are witnessesing “viable” growth and investment and progress in our town. Chuck Sadallah, successful business owner who is hands on daily with our community, upholding his strong bloodline of business owners. Bill Vinci, who much like my line of work has built a wonderful marketing “experiential” platform. And, Noelle Sprague, a very accomplished woman at her craft, formally educated abroad in the culinary industry. It was very exciting to be able to laugh and share the energy with these people. It was an honor to be sitting at the table with them.

The feeling of walking into a room full of people that you can call friends is something that can’t be described in words. Jay Sumner, founder of ‘I Love Utica‘ and Utica’s Tomato Pie Day has done a wonderful job creating this uplifting energy. Creating, gathering and breathing life into these events is an art.

The subject, tomato pie. For many of us, it’s a staple, at least on Sundays. And how can you fill a community rec center year after year promoting something that so many establishments do so well? These are the true gems, the backbone. The pizzerias, bakeries and eateries may have come to compete, to win even, but it was friendly competition. It’s a labor of love, a donation of time and product so that everyone enjoys the “experience”. This experience is surely more powerful than any form of advertising possible, and the business establishments understand why they were there; so that thousands of people can see their names, talk to the owners and taste their products.

So what is it about this core group of people? What is it about Jay and his core crew, about all of the establishments that made this possible? What is it about the sponsors and about Zee’s Disruption Network crew, who is promoting something good in our city every day? What is it about us, that we can share and still have enough of our own to be successful?

It’s the understanding of what the experience is all about. It’s the knowledge of why experiential marketing is so important. In a world of social media driving most of the force, there needs to be a bridge for all of us who are connected for really only the amount of time it takes to scroll to the next in the feed.

What I am saying here is not a secret and it cannot be used to compete with me by a peer, and the reason for that is two fold; first, competition is an obsolete word. Second, it’s already happened. I’m not speaking a secret.

Event marketing has been in the spotlight headlines since 2005. This May, Las Vegas will host an event marketing summit. If you are a company, small business, large corp., not for profit, and you do not have a line in your advertising budget for experiential marketing, but you’ve accepted the prevelance of social media, then you’re missing a crucial piece of the puzzle. And if you are with an “agency” in this market who refuses to acknowledge this “top down marketing”, then you are detrimentally behind the times and will inevitably feel that in the very near future, if you haven’t already. The milenial generation wants to engage in brand experience, period.

Event Marketing is a must in today’s world.

Why would an ad agency not engage in event marketing? Simple. Often they will not receive a commission from placement. Its work to figure out how you’re going to engage people at an event. It’s more than putting on a suit and standing behind a table with trade show perfection imaging. Often, they can brand you the way they always knew it to be; logo design, color palette, personality in commercials and the anchor philosophy that the consumer “SHOULD BE” engaged in all of this. Not anymore! Your consumer wants to be, “NEEDS” to be, (or feel like), they are engaged in your brand experience and NOT the sales process. The sales process is white noise!! Stop “selling”!!!

Ad agencies, ( at least in this market), don’t have the capacity to extend themselves into the event marketing realm, and it’s for no other reason than they just refuse to acknowledge it with staffing who focuses solely on this. So therefore they see it as too much work, for no money, and view someone like myself or any of these fine experiential/event marketing professionals as competition. Therefore, they’re missing “that swing” I refer to in today’s title. But really, are they? Or, are you? “YOU”, who are paying them, are now the consumer, and if they refuse to open up to this type of marketing, designed and executed by one of “us” professional companies with the resources to focus on events, who have built successful, signature platforms, then YOU no longer have a “swing”.

Beyond that, don’t forget, the best people to market yourself to is your own. Employees leave bad environments.

Market yourself as a great, caring employer when you throw that company picnic this summer or that holiday party or employee appreciation day.

I am forever grateful to the people I call friends and colleagues. To those I was honored to be with and all of the participating businesses we were honored to call winners, ALL OF THEM, for being there and understanding the “why”, “getting it”, they are all winners.

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