The traditional brand party has been around for decades. In 1963, May Kay Ash created a new selling platform in the popular Mary Kay party which has since been duplicated by hundreds of companies. Relationship building is the number one goal through product trial with the inevitable result of sales.
The evolution of the traditional selling party is a brand party…where the number one goals is still relationship building through product trial. But the intent isn’t to sell at the party. It’s to foster brand affinity (love) that turns party attendees into brand advocates. More specifically, social brand advocates!
It’s simple! Bring together strangers to a brand, get them to engage with the brand, create an unforgettable experience, then give them the tools to spread the word! Let the magic of word of mouth (or social media 😉 ) work from there. These parties are inexpensive, they get the product into the hands of the consumer and the ROI is trackable.
What is the ROI? I’m glad you asked (clients never ever ask about that…sarcasm). The return on investment is awareness and online fan engagement. Indirectly, you can expect to see further trial and sales (yay! what every client wants).
Here are the elements of a successful brand party:
1. Hosts & Party-Goers
You can host your own brand party or find other online social butterflies with a good following that reflect your target market. They can be movers and shakers within your own town or popular bloggers all over the world. The more influential your hosts are and the more parties you have, the more brand awareness and brand affinity you create. And if your hosts are awesome people, the friends they invite will be awesome as well.
2. Theme & Invitations
It seems like a no-brainer that your theme would be your brand. Duh! But to throw a great party, them theme should be something fun, familiar and relevant to the target that can then tie back to the brand or product. Some ideas: Movie Night (if the product you’re promoting is a new line of gourmet popcorn), Mom & Baby Play Date (if you are promoting a new baby toy), Ladies Brunch (if you are launching a new sparkling tea), Spa Day (for your homemade sugar scrubs) or Game Day (to introduce the guys to a new BBQ sauce). You get the picture. Make it fun. Make sure your invitations are fun. And mention that they will be able to try out a product you are excited about, all they need to do is spread the word.
3. Food & Games
In many cases your food may be your product. If this is the case, make sure that you give your hosts a variety of ways to prepare (get the party-goes to help cook) and eat your product. You want them to get the whole experience of the brand. Serve foods that are complimentary to your brand product, not competitive. This is obvious, but you would be surprised how often this is overlooked. Create quick and simple activities, games and handouts involving the product that the hosts can easily execute, making the time engaging and memorable.
4. Social Sharing
This portion is critical to the success of your party (and where the ROI comes from)! First, have everyone like/follow the brand on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Also, have the host and their guests take lots of pictures and even video during the party to capture the experience. Then ask everyone to post on their social media platforms throughout the party (this can be a requirement for the host and strongly encouraged for the guests).
5. Assigned Hashtags
This belongs with the previous point, but it’s so important that I thought I would give it it’s own space. Suggest specific hashtags that should be used within the posts your hosts and guests make. This is the way you will actually measure the social sharing and expand reach. They key is choosing a mix of narrow (brand specific), broad (widely used) and custom (for your party) hashtags. So in the example of the Movie Night themed party, I would use #nameofpopcorn #popcorn #movienight and #brandpopcornparty.
6. Party Favors
Before guests leave, make sure this host gives them some parting words and party favors. Thank them for coming, ask them to continue to share their experience with friends online and offline, and make sure they have samples or coupons to take home.