Experience Marketing

Red Bull Air show in Maldives!

(Photo credit: amdcreation)

Experience marketing is taking hold around the world. What started with girls and boys handing out sample shampoos and snacks, today includes carefully orchestrated extravaganzas. Experiential marketing has gone from the edge of the marketing media plate, to the nexus. One reason for the surge, is the overwhelming proliferation of media. Awareness is no longer enough – it’s about brand experiences and creating brand relationships.

Consumers have found more and more ways to sidestep marketer media bushwacking, compelling them to take to the streets. Today the growth of live event and experiential marketing is growing faster than the economy – from 3.6% in 2011 to an industry forecast of 7.8% growth in 2012, as communications technology and the social media sync with brands concentrating on events that drive sales. The objective is to create an experience that is so engaging and relevant that brand loyalists talk about it on social media, post photos, and assume some of the work of creating a consistent presence.

The mother of all events marketers is Red Bull – a global pioneer in holding off-the-grid experiences for its community of enthusiasts. The brand is featuring everything from Cliff Diving Series to a man and his motorbike cutting through traffic across the tops of cars.

And it’s not just about events; it’s about creating tactile engagements where people can feel, touch, taste, smell the product face to face rather than simply reading about or watching it. It’s about deepening and enhancing relationships. True, valuable, authentic relationships are multi-sensory. Unlike channel stores where thousands of products compete for attention, Apple Stores offer an immersive environment where people are plunged into the value proposition. There are live demonstrations and customer support for every SKU available.

Trying to build relationships that are multi-sensory is not easy. The science of events is in knowing how to deliver something that’s flawless. Planning, organizing and executing one of these events requires a great many man (and woman) hours. Working on the project from the beginning to end, working with the creative, dealing with real-world boxes. Production, planning and content teams, vendors, budgets, timing schedules, worst-case scenarios and work that happens on-site. Make sure everything’s cleaned up and ship shape. When everyone’s left the after-party, we’re cleaning up.

What’s great is that the impact is immediate. People are engaging with my work and enjoying it. The best events look easy, but only the people who plan them know the hurdles and bumps.

There’s opportunity for marketers to create surprise and delight and connect something that’s happening online with something that’s happening physically. Someone has their nose in their phone doing something and looks up and sees something that connects to something they saw earlier that day. We need to thread the needle. Fan behaviour relates to the brand, whether its BMW or Smirnoff. Marketers have peeled back the layers of how fans think and how fans surround their brand, opening up new possibilities. Instead of blindly creating, look at how people are behaving and dig into that. Moments of truth and experience drive passion and imprint the soul of the brand more deeply.

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