One thing that should never be forgotten in the event industry is that festivals are social gatherings for groups of people. Your event isn’t 50,000 individuals, it’s more like 5,000 groups of 10, with tight-knit circles making the commitment to drop big money and make the commitment to your production.
Millennials are particularly social—both in the modern and traditional sense—and as they have become the cherished target market extremely successful marketing strategies have emerged to play on their nuanced characteristics. StreetTeam (formerly The Physical Network) have tapped directly into the buying habits of the millennial audience with their Ambassador program. The concept is simple: you want to go to a festival, and you want your friends to go to the festival with you. So if you sign six friends up to come with you, you get your ticket for free, or everyone gets bumped up to VIP. It’s a strategy that has been hugely successful in the festival and events space and has allowed promoters to figure out who their super fans or advocates are and start to build meaningful relationships with those individuals and their groups of friends.
We spoke to StreetTeam’s co-founder Liam Negus Fancey to get a stronger idea of just how powerful an ambassador network can be, and how this generation’s ad fatigue can be subverted by good old word of mouth advocacy.
Advocacy creates long-term loyalty
“We’ve found that the number one reason a fan doesn’t attend a festival is that their friends didn’t ask them,” explains Liam. Simply put, people aren’t attending festivals on their own. They purchase tickets as a unit and should, therefore, be approached like a unit. “Ambassadors generate 1.7x more incremental sales than other channels and we’ve found that customers are 72% more likely to attend year-on-year if they purchased from an ambassador originally.”
Traditional advertising doesn’t stand out
“Modern audiences see 20,000 brand exposures every day, up from 1,500 in 1957. They are completely saturated with adverts and it is not surprising that the usage of ad blockers has risen 141% year-on-year.”
Remember what we said about ad fatigue? 95% of millennials say their friends are the best source of information (Nielsen) – which isn’t surprising given that 64% of millennials say adverts are annoying or intrusive (Hubspot). Content marketing has been a successful antidote to banner ads’ diminishing ROI, but nothing drives a sale quite like your best friend sending you a text. “Advocacy enables us to cut through this noise with genuine, friend-to-friend interactions,” he adds.
Advocacy is proven to be effective
We know advocacy is an effective sales channel – it’s helped us to sell over 300,000 tickets so far and consistently improve on our sales penetration for every event we work with,” Liam explains. “We usually sell between 3-5% of attendance in the first year we work with an event, rising to 10-15% by the third year.” It’s little wonder why StreetTeam has been as successful as it has in the market. For the small investment of one free ticket in order to shift six or eight, and to have such a high rate of repeat business from that investment, they have added a cost-effective marketing arm to a festival. And when you are incentivizing your biggest fans to become advocates for your brand, you are expanding your team as well as improving the community feeling at your events.