ICYMI, at this year’s The Meeting Show, our Director of Client Services, Max Fellows, presented ‘The New Rules of Experience Marketing’ to an audience of 80 corporates. There’s never been a better time to be in the experience marketing business. An increasing amount of corporate marketing budget is moving to experiential work as marketers recognise […]
ICYMI, at this year’s The Meeting Show, our Director of Client Services, Max Fellows, presented ‘The New Rules of Experience Marketing’ to an audience of 80 corporates. There’s never been a better time to be in the experience marketing business. An increasing amount of corporate marketing budget is moving to experiential work as marketers recognise the power of brand experiences to build stronger customer relationships. But as demand for brand experiences grows, it is becoming clear that creating successful brand experiences is not business as usual.
Audiences’ preferences and priorities are changing; how and where they consume information, and with this, so too does the way in which we communicate our messages. How do we engage more meaningfully with these digitally-enabled audiences and cut through the marketing noise? Here’s what Max uncovers as the key shifts in experiential marketing and engagement.
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Audiences are increasingly opting for experiences over things. A key example of this can be seen in AirBnB’s Travel Experiences, where travellers can learn and enjoy local experiences hosted by local experts. This concept has seen growth of 2,500% in 2017 alone. Value is equated with having a memorable experience and audiences are actively seeking these out; whether it’s a summer pop-up or a unique dining experience, brands need to ensure that the audience’s experience is the focus of their message or event.
When we go back to basics, what is an experience – how do we define this? The word experience stems from the Latin word experientia, which means to try; very apt when put into the context of brand experiences – an engaged audience wants to try new products and technology. The Oxford dictionary defines an experience as ‘Practical contact with an observation of facts and OR events’.
We often associate experiences with extremes – the most memorable ones are either good or bad. Daniel Kahneman, the neuro-scientist whose TED talk has been watched millions of times, discusses the brain and how memory works as two components: the Experience Self and the Remembering Self. The Experience Self is very much in the present, living moment to moment. It is emotive. The Remembering Self is part of the rational side of the brain and is the story-teller looking through the catalogue of the past.
The foundations of all experience are through our senses – they are the gateways to forging memories. Why does this matter for brands and event profs? Why is it significant? The more potent the experience the stronger the memory therefore the easier it is for us to recall. When we say potent we mean, the strength of the experience, the scale of the emotions we feel at that moment in time. The greater the reaction to the experience the greater the bond you have to that brand. The more we can engage all the senses of our audiences, the more powerful the experience and the memory.
Out of all the senses, smell is the most under-utilised and yet it the only sense that is connected with the emotive side of the brain. Memories based on smell are 70% more accurate when recollected a year on, whereas the other senses registered by the rational side of the brain are only 40% accurate after a month. Retail has been utilising scent experience for a while now as have hotels but there are huge opportunities to create bespoke event scent experiences as well as marketing collateral. We partnered withThe Aroma Company to create the sense of the British seaside for our audience at The Meeting Show with their ‘Rockpool’ scent. Making these subtle enhancements can make a huge impact on audience experience.
There is compelling evidence suggesting that brands must tap into the emotive cues to brand experiences to connect with audiences and build a lasting brand engagement. Knowing all of this we can really tailor an environment to engage with all the senses to ensure that endurance of experience and information retention through a multi-sensory approach.
So what is changing?
Audiences are changing – before the focus was on Baby Boomers and Gen X, now Millennials are becoming the most influential consume profile and soon Gen Z’s will be a force to be reckoned with and present huge opportunities for brands. Gen Z’s expectations for authenticity, technology and social equality will capitalise on this growingly influential consumer segment. This comes down to knowing your audience and personalising your messages to gain their attention.
Experience over things & personalisation:
We mentioned earlier that audiences are seeking authentic experiences over material goods. But why… As a generation brought up on mass-mass production it has never been easier to get what you need when you need it. Experience, in that market, is a premium product. The more an experience can be personalised the more likely your audience will become a brand advocate.
Attention spans and digital distraction:
We can’t move away from the fact that attention spans are changing – audiences are becoming more demanding and more sophisticated. The average adult attention span is 14 minutes, but this goes up to 29 minutes if the person is having fun with their friends. Audiences are more digitally-enabled and with this more easily distracted – how do we vie for their attention? Gen Z are the first generation to be born fully digitalised. They can flow between 5 screens easily and you need to grab their attention in the first 8 seconds! Digitally-enabled audiences are in control. It’s not a case of shouting the loudest; your message needs to have resonance with your audience and be personalised.
Agencies are diversifying:
The market place is changing – the agency landscape is becoming confusing and over populated. More niche specialised agencies are challenging the bigger brands and carving a unique market share through focused expertise and service offerings. Clients are also building their own capabilities so agencies need to evolve.
B2C is moving forward rapidly in live experiences – there is huge scope and potential for more B2B experiential marketing opportunities. We are all consumers at the end of the day, why not apply this consumer-led approach to engagement to a B2B context by using those personalised experiences to inform, engage and build brand advocates. B2B events need to change; they can’t follow the same formula of a basic conference or tradeshow as before.
Audiences are changing and so too does the need for B2B events industry to evolve.
Today’s event attendee wants to play a role in the experience and be part of the conversation. They are looking for more creative, inspiring and fun formats for live interaction. To form more personalised experiences, we need to look to more personalised involvement of your audience. It’s all about active participation.
Increasingly experience designers are looking for ways to take event participants out of their ordinary lives for a unique adventure, often challenging them to ‘role-play’ as actors. This kind of theatre can create a compelling and engaging experience prompting collaboration and problem solving amongst attendees.
The type and layout of the physical space speaks volumes about the event organiser’s brand. The event space needs to frame the brand and provide an environment that communicates the brand’s personality. Events will also be sure to re-imagine the spaces they use to allow participants to have a more active and participatory experience.
More collaborative events, design as brand voice and more creative formats mean greater demands on venue selection and event layout. Events are going 360 – to fully consume event goers in a brand world environment. Think of your brand values or objectives and manifest those in the physical representation of your event.
On-Live experiences are key to the multisensory mix, whereby a live event combines digital elements that enable engaged audiences to share content well after the event has finished.
Digital technology is fast progressing to allow fully immersive environments in the way of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality, which are highly effective in brand storytelling. We’re all familiar with this wearable technology, but the breakthroughs happen when you find new creative concepts and contexts to apply them in.
Technology should enhance an experience rather than be a bolt-on. Technology is clearly a very empowering tool for events but technology for technologies sake will be more interruptive that engaging. Moving forward we must evaluate opportunities to use emerging technologies in events based on its purpose and value to the experience.
Engaging all senses to forge those powerful memories – enhancing the stimulus of all 5 senses however subtle can have a big impact. Don’t underestimate smell! As mentioned it is linked with the emotive side of the brain and increases the accuracy in recollecting memories. Tactility of surfaces will also enhance the multi-sensory experience – think of creating an all-encompassing brand world for your audience.
PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES & DIGITAL CURRENCY
People love to share their stories and experiences – smartphones and apps like Instagram and SnapChat allow for the easy sharing of these experiences. In 2017, 1.2 trillion digital photos were taken worldwide and that is only going to increase. Ensure there are plenty of photo opportunities so your audience can engage and share content to allow for incredible digital currency and brand awareness. When creating environments in consumer and corporate contexts – you need to think about how your audience can share their experience so there is a legacy. How will your event live on in the digital world?
The new consumer habits are showing an increase for EVERYTHING NOW!
Rapid advancements in digital innovations and technology is creating an on-demand, always-on culture where consumers have everything at their fingertips. With apps and in-home technology like Alexa expectations are increasing in the process. Research shows that 72% of UK consumers shop more if same-day delivery is possible. The number of Amazon Prime membership, which allows for one day, same day and next day delivery, was announced in April this year by Jeff Bezos and equates to more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. In 2016, Prime members contributed to equivalent of approximately 40% of UK ecommerce sales for the year. When designing experiences or content around your events, whether a product launch or a thought leadership conference, audiences want to try, test, and have immediate access to products, technology and content. Through bespoke apps and event technology you can bring your audience closer and engaged.
Brands needs to stand for good – reflect your brand values and your CSR policies. Let your audience know what you care about as a company. There is growing research that shows consumers are more engaged with brands that actively contribute to good causes and to social projects. Incorporate these key messages in your marketing campaigns and realise them in your live events in an authenticate way to gain traction with your audiences.
There are plenty of opportunities to enhance and create more meaningful experiences. Through utilising consumer insight, augmented technology, live experience and a multi-sensory approach, brands can really stand out, drive engagement and nurture brand advocacy with their target audiences.