Brands that do Experiential Well

The concept behind experiential marketing for a brand is to create a close connection between brand and consumer by immersing them in an exciting and ultimately memorable experience. If a brand succeeds and executes an activation well, the outcome will evoke a positive emotional feeling linking consumers and brand hopefully for years to come. Experiential is highly effective, more so than any other form of marketing. And consumers seem to see value in experiential as well with 65% of them saying that live events and product demonstrations helped them fully understand a product better than any commercial or other methods could.  Here are some well-known brands that excel when it comes to executing experiential marketing campaigns.

Nike

Nike has nearly always been a brand leader when it comes to producing engaging experiences that help grow its massive brand. In early 2018 they created ‘House of Go,’ a pop-up house that celebrated the brand’s recent launch of their new ‘Epic React’ running shoe. The experience popped up in cities like Chicago, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and other cities around the world and featured a giant sponge area mimicking the shoe’s cushioning as well as a digital interactive art installation.

 

Nike Live, a members-only concept store that first launched in the summer of 2018 in LA marries physical presence with digital-savvy. Consumers can use their Nike retail app to check sizes, colors and product stock for the store. Customers can also pre-reserve shoes to try on through the app which they pick up in-store via lockers that can be opened with their phones. If you don’t have time to come into the store, you can make your purchase through the app and pick it up curbside. After the first Nike Live store proved successful, the brand incorporated elements of Nike Live into its Flagship NY store. The brand has plans to open a Nike Live store in Tokyo as well. Of the future of retail, Nike VP of Global Stores Cathy Sparks says,  “At Nike what we talk a lot about is that retail is not dead, but boring retail is dead."

IKEA

Any consumer who has been to an IKEA store knows that their in-store experience is a memorable one. Their ability to engage consumers of all ages visually, emotionally and tangibly is unique to the Scandinavian brand that’s been around for over 75 years. But the brand often relies on experiences outside the walls of its stores, and boy do they execute them well. Earlier this year, in order to promote the opening of IKEA’s new Greenwich store in the UK, the company created two life-sized boats modeled after the brand’s infamous Smakryp bath toy. Onlookers were able to maneuver the boats via remote control along 2 of London’s rivers to collect plastic and trash which was then upcycled into a sculpture in front of the new storefront.

JEEP

Auto brands are no stranger to experiential activations as a necessary means to show-off their vehicle’s capabilities. For the Jeep brand, ’Camp Jeep’ began as a solution to a less than exciting placement at the New York Auto Show in 2003. Today, the experience has grown into an exciting meeting place for Jeep fans at auto shows around the world and has turned up at 15 countries on five continents. Camp Jeep has brought together millions of consumers by immersing them in interactive off-road experiences that demonstrate the Jeep lineup’s four-wheel-drive capabilities. Professional drivers take passengers through an indoor adventure course that show-off a vehicle’s capability scaling various obstacles, and even a flight of stairs. Each ride is approximately 5 minutes long.

Recently Jeep partnered with Wanderlust, a world leader in lifestyle yoga, for the world’s only “mindful” triathlon with legs of the race that included running, yoga, and meditation. Jeep created a lounge that was set up at Wanderlust triathlon events across 7 major European cities, offering surfset yoga, as well as test drives of the entire Jeep lineup of vehicles. The partnership helped to target women, one of the fastest-growing customer bases for Jeep.

Adidas

For Adidas, experiential has also become a huge marketing tool for the brand over the last few years. Last year at ComplexCon, Adidas utilized a staff-less augmented reality app to drop new products that eliminated physical lines and claimed to be the “most fluid and democratic point-of-purchasing to date,” according to a company press release. To participate in the shopping experience, ComplexCon attendees installed the app to gain access to Adidas Originals’ augmented reality store and receive notifications on how to ‘unlock the drop.’ New products were released throughout the weekend via illuminated beacons placed throughout the venue and consumers accessed inventory in augmented reality by holding their device over the beacons to make purchases. Products were picked up via convenient self-service digital lockers that were unlocked by the app.

Another buzz-worthy product drop event in LA that Adidas sponsored was the 747 Warehouse St. event which was an immersive experience for sneaker enthusiasts. Using RFID bracelets, 18,000 attendees earned points by visiting every inch of the activation, which featured pro athletes like James Harden, Damian Lillard and JuJu Smith-Schuster. In an effort to eliminate lines, event-goers used points to enter a lottery for the opportunity to buy the latest sneakers being released. During the weekend Adidas surpassed Nike in social mentions over the two-day period.

Jetblue

JetBlue is well-known for transforming its terminal at New York’s JFK International Airport into a live experience for customers. This past summer during Pride week, the airline teamed up with hit VH1 show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ to take over Terminal T5 at New York’s JFK airport. The activation featured photos from the show, a hair and makeup station, quotes from RuPaul and various visual displays. JetBlue went so far as to name their newest Airbus A320 “Shantay Blue Stay” after a famous line RuPaul is known for saying on the show.

Another memorable stunt from the brand a few years back deemed the “Icebreaker” challenge helped to promote JetBlue’s latest offering of a direct flight from NY to Palm Spring during the chillier months on the streets of NY. The brand introduced the “Icebreaker” challenge to celebrate the idea of going from a cold climate to a balmy one, and set up a gigantic block of ice dropped in Washington Square Park and Flatiron Plaza with fun vacation-themed prizes inside including flip flops, snorkel gear, even free plane tickets.

Experiential marketing has the unique ability to optimize the connections that brands establish with their consumers, something that’s become crucial as consumers call for marketing that leads to higher levels of personalization. The above brands are no stranger to the value of experiential marketing, and the successful activations described have helped to build brand awareness and interactive engagement for each brand.

Experiential Marketing Effective with Younger Millennials & Gen-Z

In a world full of marketing clutter, consumers today, especially younger millennials and Gen-Z (ages 16 - 22), are favoring brands that can deliver unique and personalized experiences. It’s why experiential marketing has been trending in recent years. Consumers place a high value on experiencing things in real life and wanting to connect face-to-face. They also value experiences and events they can share via their social media channels.

Digitally native Gen-Zers in particular, have never known a life without computers and cell phones — they've grown up using technology like the internet and mobile phones. They spend much of their time online tethered to their smartphones, and since they are constantly being bombarded by ads and sponsored messaging, they have become pros at disregarding traditional marketing tactics. They are certainly a harder nut to crack marketing-wise. And while nearly 100% of Gen-Zers spend on average over 4 hours per day online, this younger population is unique from a marketing perspective in that they crave in-person experiences. So what is it about experiential marketing that appeals to this younger crowd?

Shareability

Experiential isn’t just a way for brands to connect with consumers it’s also a conduit for social sharing. Creating an experience that consumers want to talk about online will help not only create brand awareness, but it’s also an important metric to gauge a successful activation. And since this younger population strongly values the opinions of their peers, receiving validation about their experience online is extremely satisfying to them. For brands, a deep engagement on-site with their consumers is great, but it’s social media that gives the activation legs, so to speak. Breaking through to consumers' personal feeds is truly where a brand can be seen and heard. Plus, if it didn’t happen on social media, did it really happen?

Transparency

Young consumers don’t like to be talked at, they appreciate a brand that is down-to-earth and transparent. One that can organically immerse itself into their culture. Younger consumers will quickly call a brand out for being inauthentic or unoriginal, so when a brand can tap into a big cultural moment and play a leading role with an experiential activation, it goes a long way. Social sharing also helps to create transparency, especially when Gen-Zers and young millennials become willing brand ambassadors.

It Makes an Impression

As more traditional forms of advertising increasingly bombard consumers, it becomes harder and harder for brands to break through the noise. To make a real impression. The Gen-Z pop thrives off of new and unique experiences and are increasingly choosing to spend their time and money on events and experiences over material goods or even the latest technology. A good experiential activation allows a brand to have face-to-face conversations with consumers, to deeply engage with them. It creates personalized experiences that are memorable and resonate. Qualities that this younger crowd is attracted to. 

It’s Multi-Dimensional

Experiential is unique in that it can deliver more than one message at a time allowing for multi-faceted experiences that are highly attractive to the younger population of consumers. A pop-up experience, for example, can tell a brand story and deliver a variety of messaging all the while allowing for consumers to sample products and have face-to-face conversations with brand ambassadors. It gives consumers 360 degrees of interaction with a brand.

So how have we at MotusExp successfully hit this target through experiential marketing? Being headquartered in Boston, the capital of college students, we have successfully helped brands access this segment of consumers. A great time to hit them is during Fall Rush, which is a small window when new students move into Boston. Your activation plan doesn’t have to be complex to get your message across — but hitting them both face to face on and off-campus is a good place to start. In conjunction with simple local advertising, a guerilla marketing approach is very effective. This strategy allows the teams to go where students hang out in order to distribute materials and create deeper engagement and conversation. 

When it comes to the younger millennial and gen-z population, it’s important to keep in mind that while they have grown up in front of screens, it’s face-to-face experiences they crave. These young consumers are good at cutting through the noise and traditional marketing tactics and appreciate shareable multi-dimensional experiences. Brands that are more transparent will break through to this target and make an impression.


Is Your Brand Ready for Experiential?

Clients come to us all the time wanting to really make an impact and connect with consumers. Experiential marketing is our bread and butter at MotusExp and we have a passion for creating campaigns that are truly and utterly customizable. Unlike TV, print, OOH, etc, experiential marketing allows you to take a business problem for a client and custom tailor a solution to meet a specific need with control over how a consumer will engage with it and the means by which you will reach them. You can target a particular audience and reach them in a way that will really capture their attention. In addition, 98% of consumers feel more inclined to purchase after attending an activation (EventTrack).

Experiential marketing connects with consumers on an emotional level, which is extremely effective long-term. It stops people on street corners and allows for brands and their offerings to be touched, consumed, measured and discussed. But you shouldn’t just jump full force into an experiential campaign without first taking into consideration some key factors. First and foremost, ask yourself — is your brand ready for experiential?

Make Sure your Timing is Right

Incorporating activations into your marketing schedule strategically is key. Make sure to give ideas some breathing room by allowing time for planning, production, promotion, permitting, etc. Rushing to get to an activation off the ground that you don’t have time to promote via the proper channels isn’t going to reach its full attendance potential, for example. Similarly, themes for your events should align with the product/service you are promoting as well as the season. So even though you may not want to sit on an idea that feels oh so good, timing really has a whole lot to do with the success of an experiential campaign.

Do you Have the Budget for It?

Thankfully, dollars go pretty far with an experiential marketing campaign in comparison to TV or print. Unlike other forms of marketing, with experiential marketing, it’s more about the quality and depth of an experience than the amount of impressions you get. So take the time to really plan, and partner with someone who will get it right. A marketer should also have a clear grasp on what their client is comfortable investing in a campaign. A big idea often times goes hand-in-hand with deeper pockets. Selling in a campaign with all the bells and whistles, on-site staff, premiums, promotion, etc. is certainly attractive, but stick to a smaller more targeted activation if money is too tight for a higher-level investment. Or, you may want to wait until you have the right budget for that big idea.

Campaign Strategy and Brand Value Align

Other factors that will lead to success include a campaign strategy that closely aligns with a brand’s current marketing strategy. A buzz-worthy experiential activation is ultimately the end goal, but if the content doesn’t align with a brand’s mission statement, at the end of the day you aren’t going to truly unlock the full potential of an activation.

Defining Success

The most important piece of the puzzle is your Return on Investment, so setting a goal upfront is key. What does success look like? How will you measure? Even the most impressive activations don’t always translate to the bottom line. So while astounding your audience is wonderful, making a profitable investment is most important.

Finding the Right Partner

Finally, the success of an experiential campaign (or any marketing strategy) relies both on a willing client, as well as a skilled marketer. A brand (or even marketer at that brand) that has a history of successful activations is going to see the value in the investment. Which certainly makes things easier — i.e. giving the agency more leighway creatively. That’s not to say that a brand shouldn’t hop on the experiential bandwagon for the first time, certainly, it has to start somewhere! We’ve guided many clients down that path. But just make sure the partnership feels right. A brand that doesn’t trust their partner agency’s leadership and expertise should walk away.

Bottom line? Before you invest financially, and allocate the manpower to launch an experiential campaign, you really need to ensure you have the right plan in place in order to successfully execute. A cohesive partnership between a client brand and their agency is the first step, in addition to a clear understanding of brand strategy, and budgets. The right timing is also important to ensure a truly impactful experiential marketing campaign. When you get it right, there’s nothing like a tangible brand experience to create a lasting memorable impression for a consumer, in addition to a stellar ROI.

 

How to Avoid Sales Malpractice

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Business Emergency

Who will your client call first?

Is it me or does the sales process remind you of a patient-doctor relationship?  When a customer is experiencing a business emergency, they want to connect with a trusted professional to get a diagnosis.  The professional examines the pain and provides a solution. The customer has the choice to move forward with the solution or get a second opinion.  If they move forward, the solution is put into place, an action is taken and when the steps are complete, the pain is gone, we hope. Are you viewed as a trusted professional in the eyes of your client?  Will you be the first one they call for a solution?

Trust is built by putting the client’s needs first, over anything else.  Are you providing a solution that is good for the client or good for you?  Are you confident that the solution your product can provide will work? Your client will not call you first, no matter how good your product is if they don’t trust you.

There is tremendous pressure placed on sales teams to make their numbers, push the priority of the week or fill unsold inventory and the client is in the middle of this sales malpractice.  Let me take you into the mind of a sales rep. When they receive that email or call for a diagnostic meeting, their mind takes them to far off fantasies that this will be the client that saves their month.  I have been on many diagnostic calls between a client and their rep and listened to them push the client into solutions that do not deal with the problem. This will never win the clients trust. Trust is built off of success from the client’s perspective, so prescriptions should only be given that will kill the pain of the client, not the rep.

Clients want to work with trusted companies.  Companies that provide solutions that may not benefit themselves.  What? Can you believe I said that? That’s right, advise a client not to use your product or service if it will not relieve their pain.  Put the client first. This will pay-off tenfold when the client trusts that you are a leader in the industry and will never steer them in the wrong direction, leading to a deeper relationship, future business, and referrals.

When it comes to a business emergency, some clients can feel it is as complicated and urgent as a personnel medical issue. I am sure, if you needed medical attention, you would seek the most trusted doctor.  By putting your client’s needs first and being recognized as the most professional business advisor in your industry, get ready to take that first call.


Sponsorships from the Buyer’s Side

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It’s that time of year, thousands of brands are engaging with millions of consumers through live events this summer.  You did a great job negotiating the best price, but are you helping your company to reach their goals or are you wasting their money?  I have had the pleasure of being on both sides of this fence, from selling sponsorships to leveraging the best assets for my clients.  Here are the top 3 takeaways every buyer should be aware of before signing on the bottom line for your next live event sponsorship.

Goals

Defining the company goals (leads, branding and/or sampling) will help you determine which event is right for your company and help you negotiate the right assets.  If the goals are leads and sampling, make sure your sponsorship includes high traffic on-site exposure to maximize interactions.  If branding is a priority, you want to negotiate more media and on-site logo exposure to gain more impressions.

Early Start

Once you have selected the right event platform, don’t drag the negotiation process on for too long.  You want to make sure that you get every available impression available in the contract.  Many brands wait too long to sign the deal and by the time the event up-dates their website, adds your logo to the promotion and revise the radio scripts, you have lost weeks or months of exposure. 

Remember the Activation

This is the number one mistake brands make when negotiating a sponsorship.  They don’t leave enough money in the budget to invest in their on-site activation.  How many times have you been to a venue or festival and seen the non-branded tent, table and unmotivated people on their cell phones?  I have seen it a hundred time and it drives me crazy.  It’s hard enough to attract people to your activation, it’s even harder if consumers are afraid of you because of your appearance.

There are many more pot holes on the way to navigating the perfect sponsorship.  If you have the right partner, they will help you avoid most of the standard mistakes, but if you keep goals, impressions and the activation top of mind, you will be off on the right foot.  Good luck and I look forward to talking to your trained and motivated brand ambassadors at the next festival.