I”ve noticed a trend. Advertising agencies or branding agencies or digital agencies have been tasked to deliver experiential projects.
Where does the perception come from that to do an experience you just need to build some stuff?
I’m here to tell you – If you just build it, they won’t come.
To deliver an experience that actually works you need to be able to combine a very specific set of skills – hell to even pitch a good idea you need to be able to combine a very specific set of skills – because you need to know that your idea will be deliverable.
Let’s get physical
Did you ever think about how long it takes to get permits to project on a building? Or how many toilets you need in order to comply with city safety regulations? How about how many lights are needed inside in order to make it feel like daylight and not a dingy cabinet?
Did you ever consider that until the advent of AI there was no way to accurately measure the total number of people coming into a stand at a trade show because there.is.no.door. there’s just a porous boundary through which people come and go like molecules into a concentrated solution (look it up)
Production and strategy eeks at experiential agencies live by and love this stuff. They will get it done, because they have connections and they understand what is essential, what takes time and what you can ignore. And they submit permit applications.
Making a splash
Quite aside from the practicalities of staging an event, do you want to do something that’s been done before, 100s of times?
I thought not.
You want your brand to stand out, to be unique, dramatic. For that you need creatives who know what’s been done before experientially and for which brands. But if your agency is more interested in media buy than experiences how well do think they will know the experiential landscape?
And don’t think that the solution is to get an advertising agency to come up with the creative and an experiential agency to deliver it. Even if they do come up with a beautiful expression it may well not be deliverable, not only because of the practicalities (see above) but also because some creative ideas literally can’t be delivered experientially. They won’t work because they don’t take into account the fact that people are not sitting still for 30 seconds looking at a screen and therefore able to be immersed in a story. People are instead walking by on their phones, looking at someone else’s screens or simply shopping.
Have you ever considered the way your brand should behave in an experiential setting? What does print look like on walls instead of in a magazine? How do your brand ambassadors behave? What do they wear?!
Possibly if you have a retail business much of this is known, but the people who work in experiences tend to be part-time, one week they are working for your teddy bear manufacturing group, the next for a FinTech start-up at CES.
They aren’t retail personnel, so they don’t live and breathe your brand.
And besides, they should behave differently in an experiential space. Your receptionist doesn’t try and sell your product to people coming in for meetings…I hope.
If you haven’t yet been burnt by a pointless VR then my congratulations. A good experiential agency knows what makes people cue, stay and what they take away from digital engagements like VR. They are not only expert at creating massive immersive environments they are also experienced at working in intimate mobile interfaces – because that’s how we tell stories and generate leads.
And of course, a show space is completely different from a home space. Attention spans are shorter, sharing and information needs are different. There are far more distractions!
Who would you trust to do your teeth? A dentist or a doctor who wants to diversify?
If you want good experiential please look for an experiential agency. Or encourage your advertising agencies to defer to the experience of the ones you are already using.
Your experiences will reap the benefits.
Your customers will reap the benefits.
You will reap the benefits.