If brand owners truly want to build solid experiential campaigns, they must answer all of the right questions — or risk failure.
The well–documented opportunities associated with experiential marketing, combined with the many concerns around evaluation, cost–effectiveness and defining the discipline, regularly conspire to deliver inefficient and ineffective campaigns. Why is this the case? Surely we could have figured it out by now? Don’t we work in an industry that is driven by insight?
The reality is that brand owners (supported by submissive agency partners) are failing to ask themselves all of the key questions. It is not that the questions are that difficult — the challenge is to answer every single one at the same time.
Firstly, are you clear on how you will define success? Advocacy, trial, conversion, awareness, talkability, direct sales — the list goes on. Budget holders must ask themselves how they visualise success and whether they have the right focus.
Agencies have a very legitimate complaint with clients whose idea of focus is shifting the order of several largely unrelated experiential objectives. With an appropriate focus, the team will quickly have an ability to track ROI and, maybe more appropriately, return on objectives.
Secondly, are your colleagues and management clear on what you want? Consistency and alignment are prerequisites for success in any organisation. Why, then, do so many marketing departments still operate in silos? A successful experiential campaign may not end up resembling an advertising campaign — it’s not always about matching baggage — but failing to strategically align with other plans is a quick route to an unhealthy return.
Next, we ask: do you fully understand today’s consumer? We are now dealing with people who own two types of currency. Scarcity, budgeting and the cost/benefit trade–off are daily influences on the decision to spend the first currency (disposable income) and/or the second (time).
Ultimately, only a laser–sharp insight that is used to create an engaging and inspiring idea will separate consumers from their time — now arguably even more valuable to them than money.
Fourth, we ask: are you embracing the ‘phygital’ age? The cries for digital integration can be heard everywhere but how many of us are placing the digital space at the heart of experiential strategy (not just the tactics)?
It is not enough to develop an idea and then figure out how to build a website around it. The digital space should inspire the idea and be considered as important as the physical space around us. This is not so we can win integrated marketing awards, but to enable us to achieve a level of awareness and engagement that drives cost per contact into more friendly waters.
Finally, have you considered the numbers? They do not lie. Imagine a brand that wants to uplift volume by 100,000 units as a result of a three–minute person–to–person ‘street’ experience (let’s assume a 5% redemption, against a target audience that represents 50% of everyone that the brand is going to meet when ‘live’).
If you are unable to screen the participants effectively, you will therefore need to deliver 4m experiences over 8,333 24–hour days (assuming that you had one very busy brand ambassador). This clearly illustrates the need to amplify campaigns effectively.
Not exactly a formula out of a NASA handbook, but why are so many brands still getting it wrong? We must answer each and every one of the questions that need to be answered, find a compelling insight, tell a great story, make the most of the tools at our disposal and be sure to balance cost with benefit.
Not only will the marketing director sleep better at night, so will his colleague in finance.