January 27, 2020

Tisch Center newsflash: Events and Experiential Marketing, Professor Gant

Events are increasingly seen as an integral part of a company’s marketing mix. Experiential marketing allows for a two-way communication between a brand and its customers: from pop up stores to activations at festivals, events are used to build an emotional connection between products and consumers. In this post, Professor Richard Gant tells us more about events and experiential marketing. Professor Gant teaches the Event Marketing Strategies course in the MS in Event Management program. 

What is your background?

I began my career in the entertainment industry, as a professional musician. But, sports had also been a longtime endeavor. I have had a baseball and glove in my hand since I was a toddler, thanks to my dad. Later as an adult I added sports marketing to the mix, as I sought more education on the subject matter.

One of my first jobs outside of music entertainment was working in the hotel/hospitality industry for HILTON. It’s funny because, I also considered that entertainment as well. At least that was my approach to the job. We were there to entertain and provide an experience for our guests.

After some success in the hotel/hospitality arena, I was lucky enough to snag a position as Director of Special Events at the world famous Palladium, which at the time, was the largest performance/club/entertainment complex in New York City. There, we were responsible for producing some of the most memorable events anywhere in the world. Including the opening announcement for Universal Orlando. We literally turned the Palladium into a smaller version of the Universal Movie Studio set.

Next, I went to work on the brand side of things at Anheuser Busch, immersing myself on gaining as much knowledge as possible on consumer product sales and marketing, working mainly on the Budweiser, Bud Light brands.

PAB was the last time I worked for a company other than one that I owned.

Since 1995, I’ve helmed The RL Gant Group Inc., sports, entertainment, experiential and media marketing agency. 

Events have increasingly become a central part of many companies' marketing strategies - experiential marketing through events is more than just a trend. It’s how a brand transforms its strategy and approach to its customers from transactional marketing to relationship marketing. Why do you think a company may choose to market itself through events?

It's long been difficult to deliver only mass messaging across traditional platforms. People aren’t at home watching TV as much they used to and there are multiple screens where we view entertainment and sports, as well we now have the ability to access content on demand. Event marketing delivers an opportunity to develop, reinforce and deepen brand relationships with our customers. Engaging with customers through onsite activation with specific brand messages linked to specific campaigns, is a valuable opportunity that allows us to reach out and touch the customer in-person. It's an opportunity to provide information and receive immediate feedback, while growing customer relationships. 

What are other trends have you seen in the event industry? 

Collecting, analyzing and disseminating data is one area that is a key trend, as it is across the marketing communications mix. This year, my agency RL Gant, implemented an activation, engagement and measurement strategy with an accompanying tactical plan. We include this strategy across our client and owned properties. It’s crucial to be familiar with and implement measurement tools. Brands want to know that their spend on a specific platform will lead to ROI. The goal is to track activation and engagement, gather data and deliver a report for review by all stakeholders. Incorporating technology like VR and AR is also becoming a big part of engagement, as well as live streaming over social media or OTT platforms. 

The Tisch Center offers an MS in Event Management. Can you tell us about the course you teach in this program?

We launched the program in September and I’m in the throes of teaching Event Marketing Strategies as we speak. The course covers proven and real time techniques from both brand and agency perspectives. Students study how creative strategy is executed, how to successfully integrate, marketing and communications mix elements effectively. And they come to understand processes and trends, customer and competitor analysis, how hospitality fits in the mix, pricing, internal and external strategies, both traditional and social media partnerships and the rationale for creating once in a lifetime brand experiences and strategies to leverage involvement. 

What advice do you have for students who want to build their career in the event sector?

Event Marketing has experienced steady growth since its inception. There is an excellent chance that this growth will continue for years to come. So, there is opportunity!

Learn as much as you can about marketing from the brand and agency sides of the equation. There is never enough research that you can undertake in this business as trends change every day. Study the business and the rationale behind the strategies. Network with industry professionals. Attend IEG Sponsorship Conference and/or Event Marketing Summit. And now that NYU is offering the M.S. in Event Management, enroll!

I out work, out read, out research my colleagues and stay on top of news and trends daily. When I hit the pavement every day, I’m prepared. As should you. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this industry, keep your eyes and ears open and stay up to date with proven strategies. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

After leaving Palladium, in 1991 I enrolled in an NYU summer intensive course called Sports, Entertainment and Events Marketing. In 1998 I was invited back as a guest lecturer for that same course. The following year, the founder of the program asked me if I would fill in for him and next, I was asked to co-lead the program. NYU truly opened a whole new world for me and my career blossomed because of it. There are many successful professionals who have graced our classes and programs at NYU.  I’m very proud and grateful to be one of them.

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