Experiential marketing is no longer only for big companies with big budgets. Engaging, multi-channel and multi-touch experiences are now essential for any brand trying to make an impact. In direct marketing areas (DMAs), brands must work through direct-to-consumer events like fairs, festivals, and major sporting and entertainment activations to really move the needle.
And while experiential marketing still requires a sophisticated level of coordination between brand ambassadors, media buys, and collateral creative, it’s very clear that high-touchpoint experiences are now an expectation of—not a surprise to—an increasingly jaded consumer. How can a brand keep up?
Experiences extending beyond the footprint: We aren’t talking about chotchkes and ballpoint pens. Consumers are no longer so willing to use their clothing, phones, and cars as free advertising space for your brand. You’ve got to energize them to become brand evangelists in a more subtle way. Experiences frequently use social logins to record a consumer’s interaction at the footprint. Data drives all decisions (and budgets), so expect to see brands directly asking consumers for feedback 3,6, or even 12 months after the experience. Most consumers are willing to answer candidly if incentivized by a gift card or other reward. Brands can glean invaluable knowledge about their customer personas by taking advantage of those customers who have had historic interactions with the brand.
Seamless event campaigns: Attending one event simply isn’t enough. Consumers have a wide array of interests, just as every brand must appeal to consumers cross a wide array of use cases. It’s (pretty much) a fact that all people love wine and/or beer. If you’re selling shoes, which everyone must wear, there’s a good chance the intersection of people who wear shoes also love microbrews. The key is to identifying those nuanced audiences, finding out where they hang out, and “surprising” them where they aren’t expecting to see you: “Man, this wine festival is awesome! OMG shoes?! I LOVE SHOES! Let’s go Instagram a photo in that enormous shoe (which happens to be highly branded, with brand ambassadors flanking it with first-purchase coupons).”
Offline access to the consumer: Even my 93-year-old grandmother has an iPad now. Tech-enabled experiences are fun, and have real value to the brand. However, more and more consumers are valuing their time offline—which means brands must find a way to get in front of them there. Already snail mail and direct mail are seeing a major upswing in popularity (and effectiveness). In combination with experiences extending beyond the activation point, offline campaigns, whether they are direct mailers or guerrilla sidewalk campaigns many months after the initial event, make an enormous impact. Expect to see companies making smarter, deeper investments in locations (DMAs), not just one-off events.
If you stick around long enough, old trends become current again. Digital marketing and experiences will never be obsolete, but we’re excited to see a return to good old-fashioned person-to-person marketing that requires thoughtful planning, promotion, and production.
Our Networks encompass state fair and major county fairs, festivals, taste events, cultural events, and lifestyle events. When you’re ready to get started planning your experiential marketing tour, fill out our contact form or give us a call at 301-990-2700.