As featured in MediaPost, July 2018.
If I had a dollar for every time “bringing the brand to life” appeared in an experiential marketing presentation, I could retire early.
Yes, experiential marketing encapsulating a brand should leave a long-lasting impression. Equally, it should create loyal consumers as a result of their “brand engagement,” but it isn’t as easy as it looks. With today’s hyper-savvy, critical, often cynical brand-aware consumers, brands need to understand that this marketing tactic requires no less craft and consideration than any other piece of communication.
Here are five golden rules for creating loyalty-driving brand experiences:
1. Timing (and context) is king
Intense planning and strategy go into defining the highest consumption occasion and consumer “need state” for CPG brands. Too often, brands disregard this thinking when it comes to planning the moment of interaction, particularly in a sampling campaign. But both context and relevance are vital. So, think as carefully about timing and environment as you would for a print ad.
2. Avoid one-night brand stands
Ever been lulled into the false sense that one effective experience is all that’s needed to woo consumers into loyal advocacy? For CPG brands especially, where consumer impulse and brand promiscuity are ongoing battles, consider how frequently your brand appears in the real world. There’s a benefit to targeting consumers with interactions on multiple occasions, in different locations and across several creative executions. Providing consumers with an array of touch points in the courting stages of a relationship will stand way more chance of resulting in a happy marriage.
3. Recommendation and referral
Brand experiences are about the impact of the direct connection. A live experience will have the greatest impact on those who have been there, seen it, and gotten the t-shirt. But let’s not forget about the power of recommendation. Extending a brand experience through looking at all “indirect” or “amplification” opportunities is key. From simple techniques, like wrapping a sample for consumers to pass to a friend, to the perfect “Instagram-able” moment, the most effective moments are those that reach the masses long after the one-to-one experience has gone.
4. “Supported” behavior
Every marketer wants to control all feelings on their brand, right down to the nuances that influence our subconscious from the font on the packaging to the sound of that “glide” as we unbox our latest Apple device. Translate this attention to detail into brand experiences and every minuscule component of a brand experience has a major impact on the value of the consumer moment.
Consistency of creative treatment and the integrated campaign idea is the first rule of marketing … correct? Not always. Bringing to life the ad as opposed to bringing to life the brand is a common mistake. Consistency of tonality, messaging and brand purpose absolutely, but context is everything. Slavishly recreating TV commercials in a real-world context seldom produces the most effective moment.
Thinking long and hard about crafting that critical moment in bringing a brand to life with the same rigor as a TV ad or packaging design is going to be your best shot at realizing the power behind Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”