Marketing campaigns can often be forgettable, but experiential has the power to inspire people not only to remember but spread the word.
Dreams are strange things. They can seem so real when we’re asleep, yet fade from our minds so quickly once we’re awake. On average, it’s estimated that we each spend two hours a night dreaming, yet hardly anyone will remember a single dream they’ve had.
To my mind, a lot of marketing exists in this dream world. With the exception of those rare campaigns that get everyone talking, consumers spend their lives subjected to an increasing barrage of mediocre ads, throw–away mailers and uninspiring promotions.
Faced with this onslaught, our brains effectively go to sleep, and expensive marketing campaigns become like wall–paper in a kaleidoscope of quickly forgotten dreams.
Actually, this isn’t just a theory. In our brains is something called the reticular activating system. Its job is to filter all the sensory stimuli coming in and decide what we should focus our attention on at any particular moment. It’s at the heart of the reason why experiential marketing is such an effective medium.
Say you’re sitting in the office with the radio on. You might hear the same song four or five times in a day, but sometimes your brain doesn’t even register you’ve heard it. But hear, see and experience the atmosphere of that same song played live at a festival, and all your senses are totally tuned into that moment, so the individual impact is completely different.
What’s more, you’ll tell everyone about it. It’s natural to want to talk about something others haven’t heard of and pass on new–found knowledge. We live in a recommendation generation, and talkability is something every brand should aspire to.
So, to make people remark, you have to give them a remarkable experience. Like helping parents experience the world from a baby’s perspective in an immersive roadshow to highlight Pampers’ understanding of baby development. Or offering to help clean up people’s carbon footprint’ with free shoe shines and informal chats about green energy packages on behalf of E.ON.
There are several reasons why experiential campaigns such as these have been so effective for the brands concerned.
Most importantly, they tap into consumers’ growing desire to participate with brands, rather than simply being spectators. Instead of broadcasting to consumers, brands that embrace experiential allow consumers to be part of the message. This involvement with the brand drives real understanding and long–term engagement. Clever experiential campaigns ensure brands are free from the clutter of other media, so consumers are totally focused on the messages being communicated.
Experiential also recognises the huge value of human contact in building relationships. Every other marketing medium involves a machine or an inanimate object talking to humans. Human–to–human interaction has the power to be far more emotional and reassuring. Machines can’t generate enthusiasm, something well–trained brand ambassadors can deliver in abundance.
What’s more, if brand ambassadors are also skilled enough to adapt their tone of voice, body language and conversations to connect with each consumer they meet in the most convincing way, I’d be bold enough to say that the individual impact on consumers is far greater with experiential than any other media.
Not every brand will be suited to experiential — it tends to work best for volumetric brands, those with a high ticket value or those wanting to encourage hands–on discovery of their products. Moreover, you have to have a good story to tell, because people don’t like talking about mediocrity. But if you have a fantastic product or service with real talkability, experiential might just make your brand dreams come true.