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As more of the world becomes digital with the rise of social media, automated processes, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence– just to name a few– could the secret to capturing your audience be venturing offline?
No, I’m not talking about billboards and spinning giant signs on sidewalk corners.
Brand Experiences: Effectively Crafting Your Message
It may sound counterintuitive at first but think about it like this. When everyone starts doing something, it’s not new or exciting anymore. And the competition becomes intense, making it difficult to differentiate yourself. Just think about the grief you experience trying to understand and crack the ever-changing Instagram algorithm. There are only so many ways to get the results you want in cahoots with an algorithm. You are competing with every other influencer and brand trying to use the same strategy.
Why battle the computer when you can beat it all together by channeling your humanity? I’m talking about experiential marketing.
Photo for Thought
We have already established that everything is online now – your business, your friends, your hobbies. But, so is everyone else’s. While this may seem like the perfect fit for marketing your brand, it shouldn’t start there.
Consider the content published on social media platforms, news sites and periodicals. People like to see what others are doing. We all want to feel like we are part of something else, share in the fun and see all that the world has to offer.
Sports channels were the leading brands of user engagement on Instagram in 2018, followed by National Geographic. Sports are activities people follow and attend for the experience. You don’t go to an NBA game to post a picture – you go to watch the game, hang out with friends and have a good time. You go for the experience. The same is true for National Geographic. It reflects many of the qualities of popular travel accounts by showing its audience places and cultures through beautifully captured photographs. These picture-perfect (pun intended) representations of real-life events inspire awe and evoke action among the public. This means people are more compelled to like, comment and share the information– increasing engagement.
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Photo by Jimmy Chin @jimmychin | The act of climbing mountains is often misunderstood. It can mean different things to different people. The reasons can be deeply personal, or about sharing an incredible experience with your climbing partners. For some it becomes a meditation in being present. Life stripped to the basics—movement through the landscape with purpose. At its most raw, it can be about survival. Conrad Anker has made a career seeking out, exploring, and climbing some of the most remote unclimbed walls in the world. Beyond climbing, he has been a mentor to new generations of climbers, and also worked to protect the wild landscapes he loves. But at the end of the day, he still loves climbing. Here in minus 20°F temps, he ascends a new 4000-foot route on Ulvetanna, aka the Wolf’s Fang, in Antarctica. Ask him why he’d spend a week on a wall in subzero temps and he might not be able to tell you…but he was surely present and enjoying this moment. For more images from mountain adventures around the world, follow @jimmychin
Leisure travel has been steadily rising in the past decade and this can be attributed, in large part, to the desire to capture and share the photogenic experiences cascading our feeds.
But, pictures aren’t the only compelling media taking the market by storm.
A Moving Picture is Worth A Thousand $$ Words
They say video has the highest engagement. And, it’s true. Just think about it – movies, tv shows, the rise of the cult following of Netflix and YouTube, IGTV, Instagram stories…
When you go to a concert, you video it and share it. When your friend does something funny, you film it and post it. Video tells a story better than a photo can. It captures more than the moment, but the atmosphere and the emotion along with it.
HubSpot’s Video Marketing Statistics reveals that product videos are capable of increasing sales by 144% and nearly half of all internet users look for product videos before going into the store. These numbers only prove what we already know and what trends have been showing us. The challenge is determining the content of the video, production format, and sharing platform. Brand experiential marketing campaigns to generate and capture this content, update it consistently and sustain a creative edge are expensive. What if we can have the customer do it for a fraction of the cost?
The Unconventional Guide to Modern Marketing
We know why people are motivated to share, what content is most appealing, and which mediums are available that embody our desired principles. Now all that’s left is to figure out how to bring the customer to you and let them do the work of spreading your message. Simple, right?
There is a lot of behind the scenes work and careful thought that goes into crafting an effective experience. Emily Goldberg, a Senior Producer of Experiential Marketing, explains that the foundational idea is creating hands-on interactions between consumers and brands. In today’s market, product feel is extremely important to the customer. Firms specializing in building experiential marketing campaigns curate every detail of the interaction, from the elevator music to the bathroom line – leaving no stone unturned! The focus is hyper-tailored for the media, influencers, and end consumers.
You present the exact message and feeling that you want shared about your brand, wrap it in a bow and leave it out to be discovered. The ultimate intent is to activate experiences for potential customers which convert them into loyal customers.
Standard examples of how these ideas are implemented in the more mainstream format are conventions and trade shows. These settings are often geared towards professionals and lack the creativity necessary to capture attention and invoke action. But, they’re not just for B2B brands.
Top-Notch Brand Campaigns
Not inspired yet? Take a look at these experiential marketing campaigns to get the ball rolling.
The fashion site Revolve has been hosting extravagant events for influencers numerous times a year to promote and shoot content for their new collections. For any sized event, it is critical to find the right influencers to partner with whose personal brand and audience match your goals. This is a primary step in ensuring a high return on investment.
As with these experiential marketing campaigns, the resulting content captures the products in action– or in reaction by letting the consumers experience it for themselves. With fashion campaigns, in particular, it is helpful to see products on different body types and styled differently. Brands benefit from showing the diversity of the pieces. Revolve sends influencers somewhere that perfectly matches the entire collection– every turn is the perfect photo op!
In addition to showing consumers what the products look like, the brand is able to depict what the products should feel like. Wearing the clothes now embodies the idealistic lifestyle of the campaign, the same lifestyle consumers want when interacting with the product.
Experiential marketing campaigns do not need to be this extreme to be effective! They just need to get people talking in the way you want.
Here’s how you can bring the experience to your digital campaigns yourself!
Steps to Building the Best Experiential Marketing Campaigns
Whether you’re an eCommerce brand solely relying on word-of-mouth reviews or an established food chain introducing new flavors, you’re aiming to prove the quality and worthiness of your product to new consumers. Sometimes the extra edge is to go to your target consumer and put the product right in front of them.
1. Identify your target market.
As with any marketing initiative, you need to determine who is consuming the content. Who will be attending the event versus witnessing it second-hand on social channels? Do they already know about your brand or are they first time consumers?
Who your experience is geared towards is the first opportunity for creativity. New customers need a direct interception from their daily lives to gain exposure, whereas media or influencers you may have worked with in the past are more inclined to attend an event by invitation. Maybe you are branching into an entirely new market. Does it fit to hyper-target college campuses? Should you consider it? This choice impacts subsequent campaign decisions.
2. Determine your key messaging.
What you want to convey to your attendees will guide all other aspects of event logistics and creative direction. This is the content you ultimately want circumnavigating the digital sphere. Decide what the message is and what the literal representation of that is.
Your messaging drives how you want individuals to interact with the experience. What is the strength of each feeling? When they first walk in, how are they greeted? And what is the reaction you imagine from that? These thoughts will help you identify what content will be shared – and from that you can prioritize where you want to focus their attention (and cameras!).
3. Craft the image of the event.
Don’t have the budget to fly a hundred influencers around the globe? Why not rent out a stellar venue and set up your own creation? Craft an event or a pop-up?
Here is your opportunity to think outside of the box. What does your product or brand feeling look like? It’s an unusual question, but important one for this space.
If there is a phrase, hashtag or image you want to highlight, use this as the center of a feature or entire event. It is probably in your best interest to make this a photogenic location. Is there a way to innovatively depict it? For example, maybe you want to draw attention by making people into bananas.
Gnack’s campaign at SXSW turned into a viral hit and broke a world record! This is a prime example of what an experiential campaign can become. Craft a message and an image that is made to be shared.
The best part is there are endless options. You don’t need a national convention to launch your campaign, you could host an event for a couple of hours that has just as much impact. But, as the saying goes “location, location, location.”
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Location scouting is key finding the perfect venue to fit your campaign image as stay on brand. Platforms are available now that streamline the search process by aggregating unique places in major cities. Similar to Airbnb for lodging, Giggster provides an interface for owners to match with brands or individuals with the intent of shooting content there. Choose your price point and aesthetic and find the perfect canvas on which to launch your campaign. The evolving landscape of digital media provides all the resources for blowing away your audience. New tools and software are becoming accessible to simplify and heighten experiential marketing campaigns. Do some research and you may find a few hidden gems that will push you over the edge.
Digital location scouting platform
4. Customize every detail!
Now that we have the basics in place, it’s time to get creative! Walk through every detail of the experience. Control the interaction and message from entrance to exit. The flow of the room down to the color of the napkins all play into crafting the experience. Simple or sophisticated, show your audience attention to detail and thoughtfulness. And don’t forget a clear call to action!