In experiential marketing, there’s a big difference between getting participants to “just attend” a convention versus attracting superfans to flock to your events.
What are superfans, you might ask? Here are a few of their characteristics:
- They don’t mind paying a premium to purchase event tickets
- They wait in line for hours if it means it will get them closer to the things/people/experiences they love
- They travel to events and conventions with like-minded friends
- They are proud to demonstrate their expert knowledge and are devoted to genres, brands, and franchises
Superfans are not just loyal. They are fiercely loyal.
Here’s a great example of superfans at work. When Fox announced that the TV series Lucifer would not be renewed for a 4th season, the show’s superfans were outraged. They started an online petition on Change.org urging streaming sites Netflix, Hulu, CW, and Amazon to pick up the show.
Just take a look at the support the petition generated. More than 304,000 superfans signed the online petition. Some fans even went as far as writing network executives to make sure they were heard:
The clamor was pretty hard to ignore and Netflix decided to heed the call and pick up the TV series. The superfans rejoiced and Netflix gained a throng of loyal followers.
Of course, this doesn’t take into account the social media attention that this campaign generated.
Now, imagine if you had the same roaring support for your events and conventions.
So, how do you attract superfans to eagerly attend your next experiential marketing activity?
1. Create Unique Experiences
“I’m Steve Kamb. I’m a nerd. I deadlift.”
This is how Steve Kamb, the founder of popular fitness website Nerd Fitness introduces himself. He calls the fitness movement that he created the “Rebellion” and those who participate in it “Rebels.” One component of the Nerd Fitness program is an event called Camp Nerd Fitness, a week-long fitness boot camp held in an idyllic location. However, it’s not your typical fitness boot camp as it combines the mental, emotional, physical, and social aspects of getting in shape. Participants felt a strong sense of community. Over the years, it has gained its own superfans.
Compared to regular attendees, superfans crave for event content and experiences that are out of the box. They want experiences that empower them to express themselves and their fandom. These things may seem over the top for your corporate events and more traditional experiential marketing executions. However, these are the things that will hook superfans to keep returning to your events.
2. Connect With Them
Harry Potter fans call themselves Potterheads. Comic fans hate continuity stories that suddenly become retcons. Coffee lovers crave for regional and artisanal beans.
For many people, these terms mean nothing. However, superfans use these words in their everyday conversations with fellow superfans. Using these terms go against the “never use jargons” golden rule of marketing, but the rules are different when you’re talking to superfans. Speaking in their language makes you authentic and shows that you get them.
How do you connect with your target superfans?
- Participate in relevant forums
- Perform social listening
- Follow relevant influencers
If you want to have both superfans and non-superfans at your event, it’s advisable to create different sets of materials and event assets (i.e. registration pages) to cater to each audience segment.
3. Give Them the VIP Treatment
While superfans don’t really expect to be given the velvet rope treatment, it’s necessary to incentivize their presence while you’re still building your own base of superfans for your events.
How can you achieve this for your events?
- Create an exclusive pre-event activity to give you extra face-to-face time with superfans.
- Set up a system that will alert your event staff when superfans arrive at your event. For example, designating scannable smart tags for your superfans will make it easier for you to track their arrival as well as their movements during your event.
- After the event, send them a personal note to thank them. If your budget allows, send them a thank you token together with the note.
Just to reiterate: the need to give superfans unique and unforgettable experiences supersedes the need to give them the VIP treatment. However, incentivizing their presence at your events with exclusive offers and experiences will differentiate your events from what everyone else is doing.
4. Choose the Right Venue
When dealing with superfans, the devil is in the details. Creating the right ambiance for your events and conventions is a big factor in their overall experience.
Choose venues that tie in with your event and tell their own stories. For example, this loft in Manhattan is where Julie Powell wrote her bestselling novel (turned blockbuster movie) Julie & Julia. This venue would be perfect for culinary brands. Plus, the backstory of the venue alone provides enough curiosity factor to get the attention of superfans.
Make Your Events Irresistible to Superfans
Being able to generate raving reviews from superfans for your events is one of the most powerful forms of word-of-mouth marketing. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you say about your events. It’s what they say that really matters.
While getting superfans to your events takes a more intricate strategy and more investment in terms of time and resources, the returns are nothing short of, well, super.