In a tight economic climate, brands must use their marketing budgets creatively, and there is no better option than experiential
With retail sales plummeting and consumer spending on the wane, the likelihood is that marketing budgets will soon be following suit. This lack of optimism in the economy is creating tough business conditions, with all marketing activities and disciplines coming under close scrutiny from budget holders.
If companies are to weather this storm, they need to take a more creative approach to the budgets that they do have. In our experience, this can be done in two ways: first, by scaling back on the more glamorous or expensive elements of an activity, and refocusing on the face–to–face aspects; and, second, by ensuring that campaigns make full use of any existing resources that companies or brands may have access to — from staff and media space to communication tools.
Too often, people associate experiential with big, static displays in high–footfall retail areas. The reality is that the discipline can offer a lot more. When times are more buoyant and consumer spending is high, the use of 3–D stands, expensive gadgets and huge numbers of giveaways can be very effective on their own.
However, in leaner times we need to adopt more cost–effective ways of bringing brands to the consumer. That means a move away from the&ls; ‘box in the middle of the city’ mentality, toward a more creative use of our skills that will challenge any budgetary restraints.
This is not to say that branded structures, stands and environments cannot play an important part in experiential activity, but campaigns can often place too great an emphasis on them and miss some very obvious and more versatile supporting media. Indeed, our past campaigns have used everything from branded teams of free runners to mobile experiential tools, such as scooters, working alongside traditional static displays to not only produce a more dynamic use of public spaces, but also to generate more consumer engagement and deliver better results.
The key strengths of experiential are its creativity and flexibility, and these can be as easily directed into producing simple but effective campaigns within tight budgetary restrictions as they can massive and complex events. By thinking creatively around a client brief and using the wide range of available media, experiential agencies can not only make a campaign more effective, but also reduce a client’s marketing costs.
This is an obvious area to look at when dealing with travel retail spaces, such as airports, railway stations and shopping malls. In these spaces, the media directly around the campaign offer a wealth of cost–effective brand extensions.
For example, by looking at the whole consumer journey at an airport, everything from reseal–able plastic bags to the trays used at security can be branded. This even extends to the staff themselves — not just those involved in a campaign but all those that consumers come into contact with throughout their journey from car park to departure gate.
Every one of these represents an opportunity to further strengthen brand exposure, and each person in turn becomes a vehicle for brand messaging.
Experiential is not always considered as a key component of a brand’s marketing strategy, but during hard times it can deliver advantages that other disciplines cannot. Giving consumers the opportunity to interact directly with products is not only an effective way of communicating brand messages but, most importantly, it will also drive sales.
These are tough times for the discipline, as it comes under more pressure to prove its worth. It is our job to help our clients create effective campaigns that save money. With a bit of imagination, together we can do that.