Building Experiential Marketing Concepts: From Insights to Full Plan
Experiential marketing is all about creating one-on-one engagements with consumers to drive them to an action.
That action may be including your brand in their consideration set the next time they are in the market for your product/service. Or the action may be changing the perception of your brand to be viewed as you want them to view it (ie., position your brand more as a luxury brand). Through the physical engagement between brand and consumer, experiential marketing can create both short term and long-lasting impact on event attendees, as well as drive impressions with those consumers who are reached “off-site” by messaging from other marketing channels. Experiential marketing also comes in many forms – including mobile tours, mega events, launch events, tradeshows, pop-up stores, 10’ x 10’ builds, sampling and everything in-between.
So, what’s the process to build smart experiential marketing concepts? For us, each process is different, but here are our keys to generating strategic experiential marketing concepts that lead to successful experiential marketing programs:
1. Understand key insights about the target audience
While many brands have a vision for experiential marketing, often the reality of budgets and logistics aren’t front and center. Take a step back and build a strategic framework for how experiential marketing integrates into your overall marketing mix. Dissect the consumer passion points and psychographics of your target audience(s) to understand where reach and efficiency lies and how the target consumer thinks or acts differently from the general population. It’s easy to say “let’s run a mobile tour and hit major cities” but understanding available data can greatly inform the types of programs that can create short term impact and long term efficiency.
2. Set success metrics
Before baking out experiential marketing concepts, understand internally what the success metrics should be. What objectives must the program achieve? What key performance indicators (KPIs) are you looking to hit? Be clear on whether awareness is more important than engagement and whether email leads are more important than throughput. Without a full set of objectives and KPIs in hand during the planning stages, the options for experiential are too vast, but more importantly ideas won’t be targeted enough. Measurement through return on objectives (or return on investment where possible) will be vital to evaluate the success of any program, so do the homework up front.
3. Understand the single minded proposition
Experiential is another form of storytelling. It allows brands to truly immerse their target consumers in the brand persona and create an experience which then defines the brand to the attending audience. When developing experiential marketing concepts, be sure to define the single minded proposition: the one overarching thing that you want attendees to take out of the experience. Understanding the insights and the target audiences will help you drill down to that one statement. And once it’s in place, make sure messaging and creative ladders back to tell one cohesive story.
4. Group think beyond the event itself
You might already have a great idea for how to bring an idea to life via events, but bring other colleagues or resources into the ideation process to validate, build upon, refine, or completely reimagine the concept. Use insights and the single minded proposition to help fuel thinking and use the wide array of brainstorm techniques available to think creatively. As Jaime Cabrera, Executive Creative Director at Advantage says; beware of the myth of the “Big Aha Moment” and understand that a process yields the best results.
Different perspectives and backgrounds also lead to different types of thinking. For big solutions that need to be developed, bring in people from all walks of life to help “crack the code.” Someone who focuses on sports may be able to apply their knowledge to support a new perspective on a mega event platform. Someone in accounting may have that hidden passion to help them deliver a nugget of truth that leads to an activation output. Bringing in big groups can be inefficient, but where possible change up the perspectives to deliver differentiated thinking.
Keep in mind that experiential is not its own silo. Depending on the objectives of an experiential marketing program, a wide array of marketing channels and elements can be used to enhance an experiential program or to amplify the return from experiential marketing. Social amplification and having consumers drive messaging or content from events is important for many brands, but depending on objectives, consider elements such as:
Develop digital landing pages to house content and drive organic web search
Capture video content for storytelling during or post-event
Use email, digital or social marketing tactics to drive attendees to an event or message to those who couldn’t attend
Integrate promotional offers and drive to retail
Layer in brand to brand partners or media integrations
Drive earned media
Leverage social influencer extensions
5. Build it out beyond the idea
Routing schedules. Event location(s). Creative messaging. Footprint size. Staff uniforms. Permitting budgets. Depending on the idea, there are a wide array of considerations when fully developing the idea. Some of the elements need to be addressed to ensure feasibility and others can be flushed out closer to the activation time. Keep in mind that when trying to establish a premium experience, small details do matter and consumers can tell the difference in material selection, giveaways and décor. Fully understand budget parameters and try to maximize every element of the program so that the proper brand experience is provided. When creating the full activation plan, also think about what questions the internal executive stakeholders will have. In the planning stages, it is always important to be over-prepared and informed.
6. Render it
Nothing brings the idea more to life than a 3D rendering, which will help to evaluate what can truly fit into the event experience, what the consumer flow will be and what creative assets will need to be developed. If you don’t have the capabilities to develop a 3D rendering, consider finding a creative resource who can help you (us!).