It is safe to say that there is no “cookie-cutter” template to create a successful experiential event. However, there are several “best practices” which, if followed, will ensure that your campaign is targeted correctly and delivers returns on your investment , whether it’s in the form of sales, engagement or even just consumer data.
The Pillars of Successful Experiential Marketing
A Clearly Defined Audience
Starting with an exact idea of what your target audience is, is fundamental to building a campaign aimed at that consumer. Whilst this may seem obvious, many brands can lose sight of this objective, opting to use technology or content seen as “universally popular”, as opposed to creating a targeted experience. This is a common side effect of picking a partner who is inexperienced in experiential.
Before you even write the title of your campaign, seek help within your organisation, find those people who deal with your consumers most frequently: sales staff, account managers, customer service representatives. Ask them, who are your audience? What are their pain points? Which aspects of your product or service do they like? What are their hobbies? The more information you have the more finely you can target your campaign. Do not fall in to the trap of trying to create something universally popular, having a full VR experience is great if you’re EA, but if you sell insurance, you’ve missed the point.
The right location & time
This is the next logical step, after defining your audience, you need to target where they spend their time. Perhaps more importantly, when do they spend their time there, and when do they have time spare to engage in your campaign. This is an integral stage of planning which many brands do not give their full attention to.
For example, a city center high street at 8:30am will have an extremely high footfall of professionals, but these people are on their way to work, they certainly don’t have the time to take your survey. Defining the perfect location and time can prevent an entire campaign’s budget being wasted.
A Consistent Message
It is more than likely, that your brand spends A LOT of money carving out a space in your target consumer’s mind, it is then massively illogical to create a campaign which does anything other than reinforce this brand image (unless you’re trying to re-brand… obviously).
The aim of your experiential event is always to build a deeper connection with consumers by promoting your brand’s core values in an engaging way. Missteps in marketing can cause your brand to be permanently incorrectly positioned in your consumers mind, or even worse, associated with something laughable or in bad taste, everyone remembers #susanalbumparty.
A Holistic Approach
Many within the industry still draw lines between the different facets of marketing: digital, direct, experiential etc. It is important to understand that these mediums complement each other, driving experiential engagement through social media channels is a must, your event traffic is limited to engaged consumers who live in the area and passers-by, your social media channels are a venue with the potential for global reach. Similarly, include a call to action for the brand evangelists you create at your events to drive your earned promotion.
The “jump with Derrick Rose” Adidas campaign is a prime example of this, creating an innovative immersive campaign and generating over 500,000 YouTube views as a result. Live events create social media opportunities just as social media raises awareness for live events. Think hashtags, promotional videos, competitions, polls, offers, paid promotion, all of which help contribute to a successful experiential event.
A Clear Objective and Reporting Procedure
According to Joe Pulizzi, 55% of marketers don’t know what success looks like. It is exceptionally difficult, to run an effective campaign if you don’t know what qualifies your campaign to be effective. Make your goals data driven and realistic, that way they provide a framework to evaluate campaign performance. Set in place a reporting procedure, ask yourself what went well? What didn’t? Why did we reach one target and not another? How can we improve that in future campaigns?
The one thing an experiential event is guaranteed to provide is data, if not one consumer visits your event, you know more about that consumer than you did beforehand, it is about separating the data that is useful to you from the noise and acting on it.