The Increasing Importance of Experiential Marketing
“We live in a cynical, cynical world, with tough competitors….” While this maybe a line from Jerry McGuire, these words echo like ripples across a pond as brands are constantly looking at new methodologies to engage their audiences in a consumer driving landscape coupled with challenging economic times.
Now more than ever, marketers need to embrace the exciting, diversity of a LIVE experience, to not only lift a brand and its message from their competitors, but to bring to life a brands personality, its attributes; to ultimately make the purchase decision easier.
Historically, Experiential was an afterthought, misplaced and not understood; an addition to a broader marketing plan, almost so that a brand could be seen to engage this recently emerging discipline because it felt it should?
That’s not a criticism, from a brand marketer’s perspective, in those early days, what was experiential? Was it Field marketing with ‘personality’? Was it sampling? Was it brand experience? Fuelled with so many agencies using different terminology, no wonder the industry floundered and was confused.
Then the phrase ‘Experiential’ that had been in and out of favour for so many years, finally settled, uniting the media, agencies and brands across the industry; Experiential finally came of age.
Now, experiential marketing has now gone way beyond the pages of the marketing press. The wider business world has realised that, in this era of consumer power, an engaging experience can often be the deciding influence when choosing a product or service, across all categories.
This used to give marketing directors a bit of a problem. When the board asked them to explain experiential, many were unlikely to have enjoyed more than a brief flirtation with the discipline. In some instances, indeed, they may be guilty of a one-night stand about which they haven’t given a single second’s thought since the brand ambassadors got back into the van and the experiential agency’s bill was paid.
Yet as more and more campaigns prove, experiential works best when it is used – relevantly – at the heart of integrated marketing activity, because effective experiential is all about engendering not simply a brand experience but also a real brand relationship.
To create that brand/consumer relationship, marketing directors need to work in close partnership with experiential agencies/divisions. A brief flirtation with experiential as a tactical add-on will not yield the top-flight results the discipline can deliver. Of course experiential can introduce people to brands and prepare them for additional marketing – but it can do much more.
If planned properly, experiential can retain, reappraise, as well as recruit by taking a brand out of its traditional environment and challenging the consumer to re-evaluate it, turning customer interaction into a long-term brand-building tool.
That, in turn, gives experiential agencies a big responsibility. If they want to build the consumer/brand relationship and convince clients that experiential should be a core element in the marketing mix, they must behave like real integrated agencies, understanding – and helping their clients understand – how people navigate and interact with brands.
They must demonstrate that experiential is not just engaging and effective but that it also has real brand-building power which can include taking the brand to the consumer in their own environment, event sponsorship, inviting consumers to events – and even partnerships with other relevant brands to create a shared experience.
The most effective experiential campaigns are part of an end-to-end sales process involving data strategy, pre-event direct marketing to recruit the right prospects and post-event direct marketing to continue the dialogue.
If the experiential agency uses all these creative and strategic tools, it need have no fear of the Marketing Director’s inevitable question: “So what did we actually achieve for our money…?”
Brand experience lets consumers immerse themselves in a brand's ethos, and smart marketers now place experiential at the heart of the marketing campaign. Unlike the days when experiential was used as a tactical strategy to deliver short-term sales, live experiences now frequently form the backbone of an integrated campaign, with other media channels, especially digital, playing an ever increasing part; in amplifying the activity and ensuring an on-going conversation with consumers.
Agencies which use this approach are able to knock on the Marketing Director’s door with a great story to tell, one with a really happy commercial ending.
A key example from my own career (whilst at Billington Cartmell’s Closer) was Mazda. They wanted an experiential event to address consumers’ perception of the brand and to increase sales. Operation Renesis was highly motivational, with key brand truths at its core, but was also developed into a multi-faceted integrated campaign (including digital advertising and DM) to ensure the right attendees were selected. An amazing 20,000 people signed up, and they selected 3500 bulls-eye prospects. Post-event, they delivered nearly 1000 test drives (1200% above the normal response rates expected from a stand-alone DM campaign!) and 348 cars were sold as a direct result of the campaign. That’s experiential ROI – but it would not have been achieved without the framework of a bigger integrated campaign idea.
The Mazda story is not about ‘automotive’ but is a process that should be employed across all sectors. It’s about a way of thinking about experiential that focuses on commercial results. It starts with commercial objectives, and ends with commercial success – and in between is the award-winning ‘integrated’ magic of which we as an industry should be rightly proud!
Finally, it is about delivery. Brands need agencies that have an in-depth pragmatic approach to excellence. There are multiple facets to experiential delivery that are both constantly changing and influential from third party and external factors.
Brands need to trust that their specialists can deliver an experiential advantage across these facets; such as an experiential insight, strategy, logistical expertise, venue strategy, promotional staffing, production and build, campaign management and of course reporting, evaluation and ROI…
ROI which is another story, except to say, when an agency gets this right and it is built into the objectives of each campaign coherently, this will allow agencies, to triumphantly return to their clients post campaign and potentially ask albeit more subtly, another line from Jerry McGuire, “Show me the money!”
5th Feb 2013 posted by Leyton
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Tags: Experiential marketing marketing live brand experience sampling events staffing promotional staffing LIVE event staff specialist staff hospitality staff brand engagement sponsorship
Top five experiential marketing tips (from the USA)
Earlier this year, 2Fish managing director Adam Mortimer attended the 2011 Event Marketing Summit in Chicago. He’s identified five top trends in experiential marketing that will deliver the most effective consumer brand experiences.
1. Digital is integral to experiential
While experiential marketing takes place at a certain time and place, truly successful experiential marketing generates ongoing interest and conversation – which is why integrating digital channels, is essential. They allow audiences to re-tell your brand story to their networks with conviction. Make sure your agency has carefully considered how assets created during the program may be captured and shared. Mountain Dew did it well – driving fans to first collaborate online to develop the name, colour, packaging and even TVCs. Three teams then criss-crossed the US to tap into the passion and enthusiasm of Mountain Dew fans. Teams were present at large scale events, skate parks, festivals and even turned their own homes into voting headquarters! Photos and videos were shared real-time across the web creating a campaign buzz that reached national news broadcasts and press.
2. Handheld mobile devices on the ground
The combination of personal location data and the constant presence of mobile phones means marketers have entirely new ways to engage limited only by battery life. As marketing evolves from creating impressions to immersion, engagement and amplification, increasingly the mobile phone is proving to have the greatest reach. Mobile smartphones enable the closest relationship to audiences via content consumption, interactivity and sharing via social platforms. The ideal brand experience is that in which brands relate to audiences via a physical connection to generate immersive, unforgettable experiences to be actively shared with text to win voting, contests and experiences leading the way. And, of course, capturing participant data and providing a valuable brand-in-the-hand measurement tool.
3. Measurement: the data behind the experience
The emergence of sophisticated measurement methodologies and customised evaluation practices reflect how the future of experiential marketing is linked to outcomes analysis and performance. Delivering brand engagement measures has typically been more difficult than counting impressions or readership numbers alone. The best measurement models apply the same rigor as traditional media evaluation, with emerging trends indicating the brand experience is doing the heavy lifting in creating brand value along with brand engagement behaviour metrics . Immersive media technologies that collect real-time data along with mobile phone surveys and live data capture are proving highly effective in measuring brand sponsorship and event experience data. Measurement criteria can include dwell time, awareness, perceptions, engagement, intent/advocacy, brand fit, message delivery and feedback.
4. The hybrid agency model
The shift from creating impressions to encouraging deeper levels of engagement sees the traditional agency model in transition. The hybrid agency model operates best when there is a sense of partnership and a sustained focus on the quality of the brand experience as a creator of value. Agencies need to visualise the client brand experience at the heart of the exercise with all channels focusing efforts on how they are supporting and ‘living the brand’ – PR, online, sponsorship, retail, events and advertising working to support the brand experience. The proliferation of communication channels and subsequent reliance on numerous agencies requires a true two-way investment and sharing of knowledge - ideally with the client actively sharing plans, vision, issues, desired outcomes and challenges with agency groups. The agency group needs to then pro-actively take the initiative to present concepts that create engagement in new and exciting ways. It takes energy, depth of thinking, passion and consistent communication matched to defined objectives and tangible outcomes.
5. Scalable thinking and sustainability
It’s no longer enough for the consumer to love your product. Audiences have to love your process as well! Audiences will openly share their feelings around particular brand-poor practices, with the consequences and impact potentially far reaching. The benchmark experiential programs have a sustained emphasis on quality control processes, sustainable design methodologies, material origins, transportation, product specification, resource consumption, waste planning and life-cycle planning. There is now a global Sustainable Event Alliance to ensure knowledge is shared openly and best practices are maintained under a structured membership charter.
22th Nov 2011 posted by Leyton
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Tags: experiential marketing sampling digital promotional staff ROI
Experiential Food & drink Sampling
Experiential Events: Food and Drink Sampling
We were asked:
Q. Where can you do sampling and what are the limits on locations?
Q. How do you measure the effectiveness of the sampling activity, was the planning worth it?
Experiential marketers are constantly searching for new sampling opportunities, a yet to be discovered gem in what can sometimes be an already saturated market place.
While not a futile course of action, the majority of experiential locations have extensive history with either food or drink brands engaging in sampling activation.
These include; events, festivals, shopping malls, offices, train stations, schools, cinema, town centres, parks, beaches, sporting grounds, airports, universities, retail,
What are the limitations?
The following, by no means exhaustive, illustrate key limitations (and considerations) when formulating food sampling strategy:
As a commercial source of income, brands can be charged a range of site fees for sampling. Charged per day, for a more prestigious site space these costs can represent a large proportion of a budget.
Are we adhering to the venues positioning? Is the brand, its respective attributes and campaign in keeping with the venues ambitions?
More often than not venues impose sample size restrictions due to existing concessions i.e. shopping malls have food courts/restaurants
Too many times, we’ve witnessed a brand sampling; purely on what appears to be the only rationale: a high footfall. There is a common sense approach, whereby you need to analyse the message, consumer and interaction against the location. i.e. Sampling cereals at a train station in the evening rush hour will not be conducive for a quality interaction, as a consumers mind set is focused on getting home / social engagements; evening dinner, a glass of wine…
Exaggerated data – this is rare, but on occasions, venues (rather sales divisions) can sometimes amplify their positive attributes to a brand to favour their venue over another. It is vital to have detailed experience to ensure you’ll maximise your potential and you’ve chosen correctly.
This needs to be mutually agreed post defining the business, brand and campaign objectives: from here a tailored approach to analyse the following attributes:
- Metric deliverables: Number of interactions / samples
- Vox pops
- Traffic driven on line
- Word of mouth / advocacy
- Bespoke research models to measure brand perception/ buying habits
Planning worth it?
As with all things experiential, planning is essential to maximise the results against a client’s objectives.
Strategic planning at the beginning: dissecting a brief, understanding the objectives and the consumer will enable you to generate your insight into delivering the right solutions: the creative route, the mechanic, where, how etc.
However, this is then underpinned with a calculated plan to realise these ambitions:
At LIVE we have developed an internal planning system that ensures all our account handlers systematically adhere to planning for all campaigns.
This is a proven methodology that has ensured our success to date, with one of our clients, Katrina Farmer, Brand Manager for Kallo Food’s Rice Dream stating:
“Working with LIVE is a breath of fresh air, their knowledge and insight in what is right for our brand and consumers, fuelled with meticulous planning & delivery have surpassed our objectives this year and we’re planning next year already,”
6th Sep 2011 posted by Leyton
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Tags: sampling experiential food brand engagement, promotional staff event staff venues marketing promotions
As with every business it can take time to establish, build credentials, trust and belief. With an industry this can take even longer. Experiential Marketing’s journey took quite a few years to evolve and now deservedly sits at the table alongside all media channels.
It is this importance, an achieved journey crafted by key agencies in the market place that have delivered, produced fantastic work, who have promoted, created white papers, generated awards; that will therefore feel a little vexed when a one man band comes along, without being vetted, no quality control, inferior ideas, poor implementation and then dramatically undercuts everyone.
This ultimately devalues the industry. You could say, no respectable brand/agency would utilise their services – but you’d be wrong. In very much a price driven market, the bottom line is a key consideration.
Certain agencies believe that they can closely manage the relationship to ensure the quality, but with their own client needs who detract and demand their full attention they’ll take their eye off their ‘new contractor’ and as the saying goes; ‘if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.’
However, this isn’t just a cost issue; for example, anyone can build a stand, hire a van and go out embrace a consumer… There is no one to vet this, sense check the communication, the mechanic, the build or the brand ambassadors.
So how do we move this forward and ensure best practise? Ultimately a governing body needs to be established or an existing body generates an offshoot that enforces experiential criteria across communication and deliverables.
The ‘LBEA’ was an attempt, which had virtuous intentions but unfortunately failed due to a diverse membership with confused objectives - Maybe it is time once again to re look at this?
Ironically, venues have helped shape part of the control. With their strict H&S, Risk Assessments, Method Statements and insurance policies required, this has ensured agencies have to deliver to their criteria or be refused entry. Unfortunately with these types of venues only accounting for a proportion of a matrix, there is a lot of exposure to risk.
Staffing, the pivotal piece in any experiential interaction, has very few barriers to entry and only a decade ago, retired promo staff started trading as one man bands, utilising their own primitive network with no legalities in place or full accountability.
A few escalated into ‘agency’ status but still to this day don’t pay NI, Tax or holiday contribution, defrauding the Inland Revenue (we have a list if you need this) and again devaluing the industry.
At LIVE we are officially registered with Information Commissioners Office. Our bespoke industry leading database has met every single staff member, all with a copy of each person’s passport, while compiling with full legislation (Tax, NI deductions etc)
So, how are agencies monitoring their staff?
- Are they on brand, profiled, trained, legally entitled to work in the UK?
- Are they old enough to work on certain categories, alcohol for example where a minimum requirement is 21 with a preferred look of 25.
Creating an ‘implementation code’, with a clear set of mandatories that all businesses have to adhere to, will probably be a pain, obstructive, require further planning in predominantly a short lead time industry; but will ultimately create a united coherent and safe industry that ensures all campaigns are:
- Safely built & implemented
- On brand, trained motivated brand ambassadors
- While communicated effectively
All ensuring experiential prosperity.
17th Jun 2011 posted by Leyton
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Tags: Experiential marketing marketing live brand experience sampling events staffing promotional staffing staff brand ambassadors LIVE policing
Does Experiential Marketing Work?
Unlike the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the real question in marketing is not the meaning of life; but rather: "Does experiential marketing work?" While little verifiable research has been done in South Africa to determine the answer to this question; there are clear indicators that all say: Yes, it certainly does!
Leaders in below-the-line student marketing and activations, Isilumko Media, powered by Studentwise, set out to determine the effectiveness of the Blue Ice (variant Pure Ice) "Pit Stop" campaign in which students participated in a push-cart race. An icy deodorant pit-stop was used to freshen up and test the lasting power of the 48-hour deodorant brand. The campaign exposed a total of 42,100 students to the brand at six universities across the country; distributing in excess of 13,000 samples.
Dipstick research conducted six months after the initial activation saw 451 students at WITS University interviewed to gauge retention and recall levels of the campaign. The questions posed aimed to determine whether the students present on the day of the activation remembered the event and were able to identify the logo and recall the brand and type of product promoted and if they could describe the event as they remembered it. 73% of those students who were on campus the day of the race recall the event. 71% recall the logo and 69% could name the brand "Blue Ice" correctly. 70% could recall the type of product, i.e. deodorant or roll-on.
Students' memories of the event vary from participation in the actual race, to being a spectator, to receiving giveaways, to having had an interaction with a promoter - thus clearly indicating that the activation was memorable and relevant to the Wits student market.
The buzz of the race days around campus which created a direct connection between the event and the product are cited by client service manager, Nick Lowe, as major contributors to the high level of recall. "Determining actual purchase of the product would be clouded by too many variables to be able to clearly establish the success of this particular campaign, therefore brand awareness and retention remained foremost indicators of the success of this experiential activation."
General Manager Brendan Powell says: "All the aspects of an experiential campaign that give the sensory, mind-blowing experience lead to greater brand memorability. By capitalising on the unique aspects of the brand as the basis for the experience, it is ensured that the connection is not an abstract one that would fail to drive home the brands' values and benefits.
"The informal research conducted for Blue Ice Pure Ice is an excellent indicator of the success of this campus campaign and definitely lends a positive evaluation of the overall effectiveness of experiential marketing within the student market."
Isilumko Media, 10 February 2011, http://tinyurl.com/5ttqxql
5th Jun 2011 posted by Leyton
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Tags: Experiential marketing marketing live brand experience sampling events staffing promotional staffing LIVE event staff specialist staff hospitality staff brand engagement sponsorship
The Royal Wedding (William & Kate)
On the 29th April, I’ll be probably embracing a beverage while partly watching the momentous occasion of a royal wedding…. There were rumblings in the household that we need to take our daughters (will literally be only 2 years old) LIVE onto the streets to watch in person; but I suspect surrounded by predominantly ‘foreigners’, while cheering at the back of someone’s head with two immensely bored children we may have to abandon this plan. While I’m very patriotic, understand the revenues the Royal family bring into the nation, (I think we break even vs. their cost) I’m not that fussed about seeing it LIVE and hope it is the former solution, in a pub would be the ideal!
Then I’ve noticed Boris is trying embrace the festivities by promoting the Street Party in London boroughs? This could be the opportunity for brands to engage and or sponsor. They could bring to life family values, unite neighbourhoods, enrich communities, align with those traditional values that for the majority, our starved society desperately tries to cling onto and instil into the next generation?
But can you imagine the residents of Lansdowne Road coming out onto their street for a ‘party’?
However, this could be a lovely platform in which to promote, for example:
• For more than 125 years Lyle's Golden Syrup has graced the kitchens of British households. The rich, sweet syrup is a preserve and ultimate ingredient in treacle tarts, steamed puddings and favourite topping on pancakes, in porridge or simply spread on bread for a sweet, sticky treat. LGS plan, coordinate and provide content. They could deliver kits (via various media routes) on how to create the ultimate street party, recipes for favourite puds etc, whilst providing games, hints & tips and then Lyle’s promotional staff are out on force as party coordinators helping on the big day!
• Sainsbury’s with Jamie Oliver, our favourite supermarket partnering with a man on a crusade to improve society with food at its heart. Here they could own and deliver the ultimate street party to introduce a menu, kit and planning pack with all food and beverages available in store, while you buy his on-line apps, books etc.
I’d love to see commercial activity using this occasion as a platform, but correct me if I’m wrong (I haven’t researched this yet) I don’t think many brands will do anything that substantial?
Simply for three reasons:
1. The wedding is too big, a brand would have to invest considerably in order to get achieve standout
2. A very clever idea could be genius, not cost too much…but do brands want to be seen to be acting too clever at this time and infringe upon the very Monarchy itself?
3. Time – we only have weeks to go and it was a short engagement, unless a brave marketing director has acted quickly on the process, can they get the activity away in time?
The coming weeks will tell all….
p.s. God bless the Queen and congratulations to the lucky couple. (we are also over not getting an invite)
15th Mar 2011 posted by Leyton
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Tags: Experiential marketing marketing live brand experience sampling events staffing promotional staffing staff brand ambassadors LIVE wedding lyle's jamie oliver sainsburys royal harry sponsorship promotion sales