Experiential Marketing is an element within cohesive campaigns that invites your audience to interact with the brand in a tangible and engaging way and that interrupts an otherwise mundane real life scenario. As with most elements of a cohesive marketing campaign, there is a right and a wrong way to gain the type of attention you want.
Experiential marketing techniques are becoming more popular as an exciting way to engage existing customers and create the hype required to attract new customers. When experiential marketing is orchestrated well and there is a strong brand presence and clear theme throughout, there can be huge benefits to your business including:
- Lead Generation
- Shift in audience perceptions
- Creation of a lasting impression
- Generate social media hype and opportunity for user generated content
1. It’s Not Authentic to Your Brand
The first step to a purposeful experiential marketing campaign is to ensure it aligns with your brand values and messaging. In a strong brand, these values will be very clear, well defined and aligned closely with the campaign message. An example might be the beauty company Dove. Many of us will be familiar with the emotional connection Dove has worked hard to forge with its customers through the following brand values:
- Dove is real
- Dove is a keeper of promises
- Dove is Beautifully Uncomplicated
- Dove is Optimistic
- Dove is Timeless
It is no surprise that Dove campaigns are aimed at encouraging customers to engage with the brand in order to become educated about the realities of negative body image in a very simple but emotionally impactful way. A real application is the below campaign video around self-perception:
These campaigns are typically supported by hashtags encouraging user generated content to ensure a wide range of Dove customers can see themselves represented in marketing material.
The success of these experiential campaigns is due primarily to a consistency of brand message across all touch points. If this brand suddenly began featuring airbrushed supermodels in cutting edge, haute couture apparel, the message would become diluted and the activity would feel inauthentic.
2. It’s Not Attracting the Right Audience
The secret is to ensure that all campaigns are driven by research. This information is very easy to access, especially in the digital space. Understanding the demographics of those people currently engaged with the brand and product is extremely valuable in attracting a larger audience of like-minded consumers.
Once the audience is defined, it's time to think about the daily life and activity of that human. What do they like and dislike? What are their expectations and values and most importantly, what problem is this product or service solving for them?
Example Customer Persona: Creative Professional - Vince
If this isn't the first step in building an experiential campaign, the experience won't resonate with the target audience and the whole activity will be a waste of time and money.
3. It Doesn’t Have Clear Objectives
In general, most people can agree that when presented the choice between passively receiving a static piece of campaign collateral and being immersed in an event with tangible elements, an event is much more fun and engaging. With this in mind, a street performer can be engaging, but its audience won't necessarily go out of their way to seek that same performer out again and again. They will generally enjoy the experience and move on with their lives.
The same can be said of experiential marketing endeavours without an informed strategy or goals.
Before beginning to think about activation of an experiential marketing campaign, it's important to clearly establish the following:
- Who am I targeting?
- What is the impression I'm hoping they will leave with?
- How do I want them to engage or respond?
- Where will they be when they engage with my brand physically?
- Why should they engage and respond?
- What time of year / day / life cycle will they encounter the activation?
4. It Isn’t Being Measured
If all of the above is covered, you've done the preemptive legwork to ensure a successful campaign. Setting up tracking is just as important as initial research. You can build the perfect campaign but if you have no way to track and measure key metrics of the campaign, you'll have no way of capturing success or ROI.
This information is extremely valuable as it provides insights into which parts worked well in order to constantly improve practices and keep impressing customers.
This is also where the clear objectives that were set in planning will come in handy - if they can't be easily measured and defined, they aren't clear enough. If they are, you'll have a better ability to measure success.
5. It’s Too Boring – or Too Complicated
While the last point may seem like the most obvious, the activation itself must be well thought out and engaging in order to be effective. Innovation and creative, out-of-the-box thinking is key to aligning brand values with interactive marketing experiences. The target audience should be able to draw a clear conclusion from the activity to the brand and values and know the type of action required of them.
The creative aspect establishes a memorable moment in the customer's mind that helps with emotional connection to the brand and product.
A great example of these elements in action was an experiential campaign run by WWF in 2018.
WWF's brand values are: knowledgeable, optimistic, determined and engaging.
The point of the campaign was to break down the barrier of 'out of sight, out of mind' perceptions that hold potential customers back from charitable giving and immerse the general public in the realities of animal trafficking by creating a life-size holographic projection of an elephant and marching it down the streets of London. Supported by the hashtag #stopwildlifetrafficking and prominent WWF branding, this lead to a creative outlet for the public to connect with and share user generated content and generate hype around the issue.
A well-executed experiential marketing campaign can create buzz, generate leads from a larger audience and help establish a bond between the customer and the brand to encourage loyalty. Achieving this could be as simple as following these simple steps to ensure simple mistakes are avoided.