Hooked on a Feeling – The Power of Emotional Event Marketing

Event Strategy

| Written by Phil Stanley on August 26, 2019

You want people to come to your event exhibits. You want them to stay, talk, ask questions and, ultimately, do business with you. Features, advantages and benefits won’t do that anymore. The slickest, high-tech demo won’t cut it. What you need is emotion: feelings and reactions. Here how to get them hooked on a feeling – the power of emotional event marketing.

Hooked on a Feeling

Apple, Coca-Cola, Michelin, Microsoft, Google … they don’t talk about what they sell and only show a brief glimpse of their products. In their marketing, they tell stories that make us relate, identify and feel. When you put the focus on the human side of your company, product or solution, you provide a personal connection to people on an emotional level. That’s good … very, very good.

Emotional event marketing simply means making people care. If they don’t care, nothing else matters. Emotions come from talking about what something means and not talking about what it is.

People Rely on Feelings More Than Information

Big league advertising knows this. Their research shows that people rely more on their feelings than information when they buy something. Google researched the B2B marketplace and discovered that corporate buyers may want to know how a solution or product works, but their decisions aren’t cold and “just business.” They are people and tend to act based on emotions first and then use the facts to justify their decisions.

What that means to you is that every person who comes to your trade show exhibit is hungry for emotional experiences. Trust, loyalty, belief, reputation and credibility are all results of positive emotional connections.

Trade Show Emotion Audit

Okay, let’s do a quick Emotion Audit of your current trade show exhibit.

  • At 20 feet away, what do attendees see? Do they feel anything?
  • At 10 feet away, what do attendees see? Do they feel anything?
  • Inside the space is there anything that communicates or generates any emotions?
  • Do your graphics or images show more logos and product shots than people?
  • Do your demonstrations or presentations highlight “people” situations and solutions more than simply show what things do?

I’m not going to ask you to keep score, but I bet you ended up with more no’s than yes’s. Trade shows are the most effective way to give you one-on-one time with current and potential customers. One-on-one means personal, and that means emotional. This is your big opportunity to make a personal connection that builds business. So use it!

Emotional Marketing = Experiential Marketing

Remember, you will succeed by letting attendees experience what your product or solution means and not what it is. Instead of loads of facts, statistics and metrics, get attendees engaged in a brand-related experience that triggers an emotional response. The purpose of your exhibit is to take your current and potential customers on a brand journey.

Think of it as a simple story that communicates “who” you are, whom your products impact, what that means to the buyer and the end-users, and why your customers should care. Your company, products or solutions are at the end of the story. Think of them as the heroes who come in to save the day. Follow these three steps and you will create emotional marketing:

  • Identify what you want attendees to feel.
  • Develop the brand journey to tap into them.
  • Design the booth space and exhibit to deliver the experiences.

Tell “People” Stories

Your biggest power tool is telling brief stories that are directly tied to emotions that motivate your specific attendees to do what you want them to do.

  1. Tell stories that communicate “who” the product or solution is.
  2. Tell stories that explain what it means to the attendee or her/his company.
  3. Tell stories that showcase why they should care.
  4. Tell stories that generate specific emotions that make them take action.

Let’s say one of the benefits of your product or solution is it saves time. People don’t really relate to numbers. But what if you told the story of an employee and showed what she was able to do thanks to the time she saved? Maybe she was able to have extra time with her family or children? By telling that kind of story you are showing what that benefit means on a human level.

Let’s say one of the benefits of your product or solution is it saves money. Again, people don’t really relate to numbers. But what if you told the story of what the money the company saved allowed it to do? Maybe it was able to hire new employees or add to the retirement program. Tell the story of a retiree who is more secure thanks to the savings your product or solution generated.

The goal is to inspire people’s imaginations, make them feel, make them care, and love what your company, product or solution stands for.

Effective Emotional Design

This year and beyond, effective emotional design can be the secret sauce that takes your trade show efforts to a new level. If you want to be viewed as different, effective and valuable, then tap into emotions and create experiences that are personal to your target attendees.

Give your entire space a persona. Give it a personality. Then use the space design, graphics, images, video and technology, sound, color, lighting, and textures to deliver the emotions and experiences. Of course, you have to show the name of your company. But then use more emotional words that showcase what your company, product or solution means. Love, Change, Inspire and Challenge will do much more to attract attention than a product name.

The Power of Emotional Event Marketing

The important thing to realize is that effective emotional and experiential marketing is intentional. You want carefully thought-out strategies that are designed into the booth space and what you do there. To be successful, they can’t be afterthoughts or some gimmick that’s added at the last minute.

Shepard loves emotion. We firmly believe that the best events aren’t just attended – they are experienced. That’s why we like to work with clients to develop exhibits that tell stories, make personal connections and make people feel good. Then, we give you options on how you can take those positive emotions and use them to make potential customers commit to doing business with your company.

Don’t be afraid to let your clients feel. The more, the better. Emotional experiences come from people. So make them personal, relatable, and valuable. Get them hooked on a feeling.


Looking for more information on the power of emotional marketing? Check out our podcast on “Emotional Marketing” by HubSpot content creator Allie Decker on SandboxPODS.