As more new events pop up each year, the live entertainment market is becoming increasingly competitive and it’s important for festival organisers and promoters to look at new ways of reaching their target audience.
Word-of-mouth marketing is certainly not new in the world of music festivals, in fact many of the largest festivals today started out as small gigs or events organised among friends that grew in popularity through word-of-mouth recommendations, and eventually evolved into the large scale events that are attended by thousands today.
While word of mouth has been widely acknowledged as the most powerful form of marketing, many brands have failed to use it because it has traditionally been difficult to manage, scale and measure. However, technology is changing that. So why is word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) so powerful for festivals and events?
1. Millennials make up half of your festival audience and prefer word-of-mouth or peer recommendations to traditional advertising
According to Neilsen, of the 32 million people who attend at least one music festival each year in the US, nearly half are millennials. That’s 14.7 million people who by 2017 will have more spending power than any other generation and are easily the most attractive target audience for festivals and events.
84 percent of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising and rank their friends highest in terms of trust. They rely on their friends as the most trusted source of information so the power to influence audiences is moving from mass marketing campaigns and traditional sales tactics to customers themselves. The rise of social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat has opened up the playing field so that people no longer rely on businesses and brands for information, they turn to their friends for recommendations on everything from new music to listen to, technology to buy, or events to attend.
2. Trust - messages shared by festival fans via word-of-mouth are trusted more than any other form of advertising
92 percent of people around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. People considering attending your festival or event for the first time may see an ad or a marketing message on social media from your brand, but only 15% trust your company’s message on social networks and simply broadcasting more won’t build the trust you desire.
On the other hand, a social post, instant message or in-person recommendation from a friend about your event will be much more effective because of the trust associated with it. By harnessing WOMM for your festival you can amplify your content and event updates through the most trusted marketing channel out there – the peer network.
3. Reach - word of mouth marketing allows festivals to reach more people in a more meaningful way
One of the biggest challenges facing marketers is reaching the right audience in the right place and at the best time. It’s simple in theory, but not easy to achieve. WOMM can help you overcome this by breaking through to a vast network of your target customers through their channels of choice.
According to the guardian instant messaging (IM), is the fastest growing technology in the world and is putting the power of instant, peer-to-peer communication in the hands of over 2.5 billion people, and expected to grow to 3.6 billion by 2018. Yet most brands are failing to use IM successfully because they can’t tap into it.
By harnessing word-of-mouth marketing, you can get your most influential fans to extend the voice of your brand online via IM, and offline, where brands cannot reach with face-to-face conversations at parties, at work, in schools, universities and other social events. Bestival is an example of a leading European festival that expanded its reach into the student market through WOMM.
Face-to-face communications are also more powerful because of the emotion and body language that are lost online. This level of marketing reach and quality still can’t be bought, but by including WOMM as part of your marketing strategy you can use it to boost the performance and reach of your other marketing tactics and paid media.
Word-of-mouth marketing is a seriously powerful force for the live entertainment space and your existing fans hold massive untapped potential for helping to spread the word about your event. Learn how to unlock that potential and incorporate word-of-mouth marketing into your event marketing plan with our peer-to-peer sales and marketing guide.