Putting the experience back in Experiential
“Can I have a moment of your time?”
“Can I have a moment of your time?” The dreaded words that make everyone walking down the city street cringe.
I try to avoid eye contact with the girl holding a clipboard strategically positioned with her partner on either edge of the sidewalk, trapping me in like bookends. She waves at me frantically, trying to get my attention, but I know how to play this game. In an instant, I pretend that I’m not listening to Taylor Swift and immediately become enthralled with an “important business call.” Clearly, I’m too busy to talk right now. Why is it that companies are still practicing this out of date method of consumer engagement? Where is the value? Where is the experience?
In her book, Experiential Marketing: A practical guide to interactive brand experiences, Shaz Smilansky mentions that if you see an ad enough times, it is likely that at some point when you are ready to purchase, it will come to mind. This isn’t necessarily saying that consumers are buying products because they have a real emotional connection to the brand, it’s usually simply because the brand that shouted the loudest got their attention.
A good experiential marketing campaign, when done properly, is not about who shouts the loudest, but more about providing unforgettable experiences that we want to share. We are all storytellers. Some of us are better than others, but at the end of the day we are innately inclined to share. This is an imperative component that is often forgotten when designing experiential campaigns, as consumers who are engaged in a positive brand experience are likely to tell an average of 17 people each1. So how do we build these positive brand experiences? It all comes back to the basics, and remembering three essential ideas.
Related: How I Became a Good Storyteller
1. Don’t Forget About the Experience
The most successful experiential campaigns are specifically targeted to the brand’s core audience; so there shouldn’t be a reason to shout anymore. Once the target has been established, develop a memorable activation that brings your brand’s personality to life. When a consumer is finished with the activation, they should feel as if they’ve received a live experience of the brands values, and if targeted correctly, these values should align with the values of the consumer. Ultimately, the experience should act as a medium for the consumer to “live” the brand, instead of just being exposed to it.
2. Added Value should ADD VALUE
If your activation includes promotional giveaways, make sure it’s something that your consumers will love. Stop wasting marketing dollars on branded pens, tote bags, or stress balls that will end up in the garbage or donated to Goodwill. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer; shock and awe them with meaningful and valuable giveaways. Give them something exciting, something that will encourage them to share their experience with someone else, something that will tie back to the brand and its values. It is always worth spending the extra money on that great giveaway item, as the consumer will start to do the marketing for you through word of mouth.
3. A Clipboard is not an invitation to say hello
An activation is only as good as its staff. Brand ambassadors are so much more than a liaison between the brand and the consumer. They are ultimately the ones who bring the brand to life. It is essential to spend the right amount of time recruiting, training, and building relationships with your brand ambassadors so you know that they will be able to personify the brand in the best way possible.
So, can you have a moment of my time? Give me an unforgettable brand experience, and you shouldn’t even have to ask.
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If you’re like me, there is probably a plethora of things you’d rather do than get up in front of a room full of people and speak. No, I’m not talking about a dramatic plethora; I would not prefer to go swimming with sharks, or stick a metal fork in an electrical socket. But I’d certainly rather spend an afternoon doing timesheets than stand up and present – no matter what the topic, or who is in the crowd. Last week I got some sense slapped into me.
Self-advertising is comparable to setting up an OkCupid profile. You want people to choose you. Better yet, you want the right people to choose you. You want to be the next hot thing everyone can’t get enough of. So, the best way to brand yourself is to know yourself and what you want. You wouldn’t date someone who’s having an identity crisis, would you? Okay, maybe you would, but that’s not the point.