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…
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.