Some in the industry are warning that traditional marketing is dead. It is not dead, but the definition of traditional has changed. There is debate that there is no such thing as digital marketing. Every marketer is digital.

There is a new paradigm in marketing where brands create experiences for their customers. Emerging brands such as Uber and Apple spend relatively little on advertising and focus instead on integrating themselves into consumers’ lives. By providing value, consumers share their experiences with other like-minded friends by creating user-generated content.

The best way to capture the consumer’s (small) attention span is to connect with them. Experiential marketing opens the door to connection by activating the five senses and evoking an emotional response that creates a memory. Bryan Icenhower, the President of IMG LIVE, stated that the memories and emotions brands create for consumers usually leads to brand loyalty. The CMO of Freeman, Chris Cavanaugh, agreed that “brand experience builds loyalty [and] has the potential to increase lead generation, brand advocacy, and sales, and can even make customers feel more valued.”

 

Brands need to be experiential.

 

What counts as a brand experience?

Anything that adds value to the consumer’s life, whether by assisting in their day-to-day or impacting them emotionally. Focus on what benefits the consumer.

What are the basic steps to building a brand experience?

  1. Identify the target audience and their interests

    Use data analytics to develop in depth personas of the target consumer.
  2. Relate their interests to the brand

     Know the consumers’ preferences and know the “why” behind the brand. The “why” of the brand should be the driving force behind all actions that is bigger than the product/service. It is what humanizes the brand and ties them to the customer.  
  3. Make the connection and execute

    Whether physically (like the LEGO store in London), emotionally (including the consumer in the brand’s story), or technologically (VR simulation of a Jaguar car chase), find the right approach for your specific consumer to “experience” your brand. Marketers can even gamify the experience like when M&M took over the screens in Times Square to create an interactive mobile experience for their consumers that featured their new caramel flavor.

How do marketers measure the brand experience?

Aside from a visible response such as a smile, access to technology has opened the door to measuring experience. An experience is not solely about an activity at a present moment. The experience must be worth sharing on social media with friends and family who were not physically present but can gain something through the engagement. Hashtags, geofilters, tagging features, and image recognition tools allow marketers to track engagement, impressions, and shares on social media channels. Mobile app downloads also provide analytical data.

 

Give the consumer something worth their time and something worth talking about.

 

A grand example of a brand that mastered the “experience” is Honest Tea with their National Honesty Index campaign. They knew who they were as a brand and what their audience appreciated - honesty and quality. The brand stood apart from the crowd and tested their consumer by offering their tea at "unmanned stores" for only $1. Honest Tea left it up to the consumer and the "Honor System" and tracked whether or not people paid for the tea or just took it. Using video, Honest Tea recorded what type of people were honest based on gender and hair color and then calculated which cities were the most honest. The data showcasing the honesty of each city was shared across media platforms leading to 13.9 million social impressions generated from 62,278 interactions on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Honest Tea is a prime example of a brand that brought their brand to life by giving their consumer an experience that was exciting and worth sharing. 

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