Category Archives: experiential strategy

What skills do strategists need for experiential campaigns?


It might seem obvious. Experiential strategists need all the same skills as other strategists: critical thinking; curiosity; a love of the data and the ability to distill insights from it; understanding of people, how they work and how they don’t; ability to communicate; ability to collaborate; creativity. So far, so good.

But to brief, and work with, experiential creatives there are other skills that flow from this list but which aren’t necessarily always found together with them. And these are the skills that make a strategist successful (or the opposite of course) in experiential campaigns.

No one is watching you

When you’re thinking about experiences you are never thinking about a short (30second), light-touch experience. Even the simplest experiential will take longer than 30 seconds, (including product sampling, which involves the first and second reads, the take and the environment, before you are able to walk off) and it won’t be only one channel you experience it through. You can’t assume focused attention in the vicinity of your message. It isn’t delivered to you by a platform.

Your creatives have to create the platform using all the channels at their disposal. Which leads us to…

Multiple-channels – One space

You have to think about multiple delivery systems working together – people, uniforms, film, print, 3d, sound, lighting, technology, content etc have to deliver your message coherently. Get one of these wrong and you fail to deliver on visitors, leads, sharability and ultimately business value. I’m not joking. Try getting leads with the best product specialist you have with an uninspiring brand film. Or an off-brand product specialist at a fabulous, on-brand one-off event. Let me know how you get on…

You have to be able to create a brief that works for all your creative stakeholders at once, deliveirng an over-arching concept – as well as being able to create briefs that apply specifically to film, interactive, architecture and environment, sound – you get it.

User experience plus

And then there’s the audience.

You have to consider visitor experience. You’ve created a public moment – how are people going to know it’s even there. You are going to have to signpost it with other media or with physical properties. Events don’t just happen – not even flash mobs!

Then you have to be sure that whichever entry point you visitors come through they see as much of your message as possible, without coralling them like cattle or chaperoning them as if they are at a private view.

And you have to consider digital CX in your specific physical space. People are rarely sitting down to engage with you via mobile – they’re walking around.

It’s more like a street than a gallery. (especially if you are in the street…). And people are much less malleable than you think.

No one wants to stop to download one time only apps.

They are going to walk in front of your beautifully positioned AR, unless you know enough to know they will do that and can work effectively with creatives to deliver spaces that effectively direct people where they engage – and where they don’t.

And this is not to mention that you can’t even guarantee that the objects you loving placed perfectly for your audience will even be there tomorrow. People steal from experiences – regularly – even fixtures and fittings, like gear sticks…

Evolving experience

As more brand and media planners are being asked to brief campaigns delivered fully through experiential, so the ability to work across platforms becomes key to creating effective experiential strategies. But how do you upskill?

You have to explore insights differently, test your propositions against behaviors not just thoughts and motivations and emotions.

Look at different things – not only ads and culture, but how you and others move through the world physically.

Ask yourself, what you would really be prepared to spend time doing? What seems like a great proposition might quickly prove infertile when you sense check outputs against that simple question.

Use verbs instead of statements and imagine you are using this idea across multiple channels to see if it works.

Flex your mental muscles. And have fun.MCS

Gen Z


Everyone is suddenly interested in Gen Z. It figures. They are just starting to have real disposable income and moving into the workplace. out from their parents’ wings.

We’ve been studying them for a while now and a key part of our research is to find out what they think by talking to them.

We put together a video that reveals key themes in their sense of identity, relationship with brands and technology – and comes straight from the horses’ mouths…

Why you need an experiential agency


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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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?

Creative
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. 

Brand
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.

Digital
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!

Quality
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.

What blogs should I follow?


 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have just purged the blogs I follow and I find myself looking for some new perspectives.

Do you have any recommendations? I would love to hear them! Send me your comments below or on twitter.

Looking forward to your suggestions!

Why are marketers turning their attention to experiential?


Why is it that experiential is so attractive at the moment? What has experiential got to offer inside the marketing mix that makes it so desirable that advertising agencies have started talking about delivering it?

In an age of fake news, polished messaging and a massive, global media environment, experiences are largely self-directed, personal if not personalized and offer limited attendance opportunities. That means that people feel like they are getting something unique, a moment in time, a genuine interaction with a brand. After all, only 70,000 people can actually attend the Super Bowl in person whereas 62 million people worldwide joined the conversation on Facebook alone to the tune of 270 million interactions.

For Millennials particularly there is a driving need to deliver unique and inspiring content whether that’s to your friend group or to your influencer following. Posting the same thing everyone else is posting isn’t’ going to achieve that. Hence the desire for time limited events with restricted attendance. The Museum of Ice Cream had a wait list of 200,000 people after it opened in 2017.

And there’s more opportunity to create emotional moments that last beyond 30 seconds. If spending time with a brand creates uplift in perception (and it does) then experiences win out every time as a means of communication prior to purchase. Here’s an example – people pay $15 to go to an auto show and spend about 4 hours there. All that time they are absorbing messages, interacting with brand ambassadors. And yes, we do see substantial brand lift in our research.

Experiential marketing has been delivering value for everbut now that Millennials are reporting it in research marketers are finally viewing experiential as more than simply handing out samples in cute t-shirts.

The question now is whether ad agencies will try and deliver experiential in the same way they tried to deliver digital in the 2010s. And whether they will succeed.

PS If you want to see some examples of incredible experiential work that is driving engagement check out this flipboard. Its not Imagination’s work, you can go here for that, and it’s also awesome!

Styling better creative briefs


We all dream of writing that brief which makes a creative team sit up and say “My god! This is it, I get it, I love it, I love you, I know exactly what I am going to do!”

Unfortunately that’s more the exception than the rule and the situation is made worse by the fact that planners/strategists/”thought ninjas” (or whatever other name by which you like to be known – polite only) are primarily verbal people.

Why does that make it worse?

Because most of the time we are talking to primarily visual people. If you put a 3 page A4 document in front of a designer it’s not likely to be viewed as a brilliantly incisive piece of valuable thinking. It’s more likely to be seen as a boring tract of unnecessary detail or, in the worst case scenario, a sleep aid.

There is science behind this of course – research into learning styles. There are 4 key learning styles –

  • Aural or Auditory – learners who like to discuss, listen, repeat and debate in order to learn.
  • Visual – learners who grasp ideas more easily if they are illustrated, graphically represented or arranged for instance by using charts and mind maps.
  • Visual (verbal) – learners who take in information through words read/write
  • Kinesthetic – learners who need their learning to be connected to reality through demonstrations, exhibits, case studies etc.

Too often we’re guilty of  putting out briefs and information in ways that are unusable or difficult for others to process, and then we wonder why our carefully crafted masterpieces get ignored.

How to combat this?

  1. Write less – please can we have no more 3 page A4 tomes as briefs. Even I can’t bear them and I love writing (viz and towhit…)
  2. Include imagery – Combine the fundamental  requirements and insights with one picture that expresses the whole concept
  3. Think about immersion – Can we use physical space to brief, experiences to drive understanding?

We now use a brief that has a full page image and 2 pages of ppt size and I’ve found it to be really useful in helping me communicate both fact and emotional concepts. I haven’t yet had an occasion on which to use a Kinesthetic approach but would love to hear from anyone who has on what worked and what didn’t.