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Event Marketing to Drive Brand Loyalty

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Event Marketing to Drive Brand Loyalty
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Passion. It’s what fuels the average person like you and I to enter and train for a local 10K race or even a sprint triathlon.

Passion. It’s what every event sponsor at these races is hoping to stoke up by their presence at the events.

Participating in the Open Water Swim festival this weekend in Ft. Myers, I had another chance to see how well brands were connecting with their most passionate audience. While it sometime seems that everyone and her brother has participated in a triathlon, the reality is that less than 1/3 of 1% of the US population has toed the starting line.

As the Ft. Myers News-Press.com reminded readers over the weekend, “open water is not for the meek”, underscoring that participation in these events is even more selective.

Skinny audience aside, the demographic for participant sports such as triathlon is appealing to brands, and makers of apparel, accessories, and nutritional supplements for this crowd have found event based marketing to be a successful way to build brand awareness, create customer engagement, and set the foundation for longer term customer loyalty.

Hammer Nutrition, ClifBar, and Gu Energy Gel have all successfully incorporated event based marketing as a means to build their business, and one of the highlights of the Ft. Myers swim for me this weekend was connecting with the event team from Muscle Milk to understand their approach.

Made by Cyto Sport, Muscle Milk is a lactose-free, well balanced protein formula that can be used for post-workout recovery or as a meal replacement. The on-site team was friendly, attractive, and fulfilled the athletic image of the people the product was designed to serve. The marketing method of the day was simple – be friendly and give away product samples to participating athletes.

Kudos to Muscle Milk for getting out of the gym and tapping into a huge potential market of multi-sport events. But the simplicity of execution whetted my appetite with a host of possibilities to enhance their presence and create marketing ROI through Muscle Milk’s appearance at the race.

For instance, a simple contest or drawing would have been the path to collecting lots of email addresses and a short survey (what’s your favorite flavor, tell us what races you want to see us at this summer) would create a shortcut to understanding customer preferences.

I also have to think that someone (on or off site) could have been tweeting about the event in the week before and on race day, maybe weaving in a promotion or coupon for followers who joined the conversation.

With many races under budget pressure, sponsorship of the finishing medals would have been an inexpensive way to further stamp the Muscle Milk brand in participant minds. Don’t forget that those finishing medals are displayed with pride for a while at home, generating multiple brand impressions.

I don’t want to give it all away, but consumer packaged goods marketers (CPG) like Muscle Milk could create a virtual location in Foursquare and create a promotion for those that check-in most often throughout the summer’s events. I could also imagine a special Groupon being created or a way for Muscle Milk to participate in the Zavee fun to build customer data and create sales.

Like Tom Cruise once said, multi-sport is a “target rich environment” and everything I’ve outlined here could be easily executed by Muscle Milk at relatively low cost and with measurable return on marketing investment.

Sounds like a podium sweep to me.

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