Brand Activation :Experiential Marketing Notes
Key Information You Need To Know On Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing is a growing trend which involves marketing a product or a service through experiences that engage the customers and create emotional attachment to the product/service. Experiential marketing veers off course from traditional strategies that broadcast brand and product benefits to a wide audience. Also referred to as engagement marketing experiential marketing may be comprised of a variety of marketing strategies geared toward immersing customers within the product by engaging them in as many ways as possible. Ultimately, companies utilizing this strategy want to help customers form memorable, emotional connections with a brand to foster customer loyalty and improve customer lifetime value (CLV). Experiential marketing has its practices.
Experiential Marketing Best Practices
Companies that succeed with this strategy go beyond giving consumers attractive offers and samples. True magic happens when brands put individual customers or groups of consumers in an immersive branded experience. Thus, brands must go beyond PR stunts, display ads, and promoted social media ads to stir positive emotions in people and foster brand loyalty. Successful campaigns encourage customers to repeatedly come back in order to influence their customer lifetime value. As with any other type of marketing strategy, companies should make use of best practices. One of the most important aspects of this immersive marketing approach is putting the consumer first (aka being customer centric).This means you must put yourself in the mind of the consumer at all times to successfully engage your audience; doing so will foster brand ambassadors – brand warriors who promote your brand just as well as (sometimes even better than) your top salespeople. The easiest way to increase brand loyalty among your customers is to put yourself in their shoes.
Marketers also understand the power of storytelling, and experiential marketing lends itself to storytelling extremely well. Consumers who identify with a story make stronger connections to brands and have the emotional responses marketers strive to create. We experience well-told stories rather than simply listening to them, and we are more apt to repeat a brand’s story when we identify strongly with it, particularly on a deep emotional level. The best stories are truthful, are infused with personalities, involve characters the audience feels compelled to root for, and include a beginning, middle, and end. Something to remember.
Additional best practices include:
- Set clear goals and outcomes
- Determine ways to measure those goals and outcomes
- Identify and exhaustively research your target market
- Remember why experiential marketing works
- Devise a creative, exciting, and impactful activation
- Find ways to maximize online engagement through social media and other channels
- Give people something of value
BENEFITS OF EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING
- Experiential marketing integrates with content marketing, social media and PR.
A research discovered that 98% of consumers create digital or social content at events and experiences, and 100% of those attendees share the content. When you consider the nature of creating experiences, you can see how media attention can be earned. Experiences can also be leveraged for content marketing, everything from social media posts to filming your next TV commercial on-spot. Experiential really does feed your brand’s content factory.
- Experiential marketing is effective and measurable.
According to research, 80% of experiential marketers saw a return on investment of 3:1 or more, and 16% realized an ROI of 20:1 or more. Whether you are looking to entice immediate sales, increase your awareness, improve customer favorability or perception, rank higher on satisfaction scores or generate new leads, experiential marketing can address a specific challenge or drive overall marketing goals. We will identify the KPIs on campaign, and ensure that the campaign delivers on measurable metrics. Using just this one channel, a brand has the power to generate awareness, engage, inform, create interest, encourage trial, promote consideration and prompt purchase, moving a consumer the entire way through the sales funnel. That’s why 31% of marketers believe that event marketing is the single-most effective channel, above content, email, social media and traditional.
- Experiential marketing builds reputation and credibility, and it can change perception.
When your prospects and customers trust you, they are more likely to buy from you. When you have their trust, you can also command a higher price and boost the lifetime value of each customer.
- Experiential marketing offers consumers interactive, engaging experiences.
In today’s increasingly digital world, 95% of marketers agree that live events provide a valuable way to form in-person connections. Experiences, especially those on the exclusivity side, are added value to your audiences and allow consumers to connect with a brand in new ways, using all five physical senses. Experiences can also provide a value-exchange for generating new leads:
- Event registrations to attend on-site experiences
- Exclusive opportunities in exchange for personal data
- Photos at events, sent directly to the participant providing a name and email, with social media sharing capabilities
- Opportunities to win instant prizes by registering with RFID
Following the experience, use the data you collected to responsibly remarket to participants. Chances are, they’ll be looking for experiences in every piece of communication you deliver.
- Experiential marketing grabs attention in a memorable way.
We live with information overload every day; there is so much noise and channel proliferation in the advertising space. Experiences are a way to breakthrough that clutter and really stand out. When done right, experiential creates a lasting memory – not just an impression – that will be recalled, and more importantly felt, for years whenever a participant sees your brand name.
What is Brand Activation?
Brand Activation is an art of bringing the brand to life by designing various innovative experiences that drive consumer action. It is one of the best processes to make the brand known to the market and the target audience resulting in an increase in awareness and customer engagement.
Examples and Types of Brand Activation
Type of Brand activation 1 – Product Sampling Campaign
In this method, brands reach out directly to the target audience at the desired locations and distribute free samples of the product that is yet to be launched or has been newly launched in the market. It is one of the best ways to promote the product and gather the firsthand feedback from the consumers.
Red Bull that is one of the renowned non-alcoholic beverage had undertaken the product sampling campaign at various corporate offices especially call centers and KPO’s by distributing free cans of the drink to the employees as the drink is known for boosting the energy levels that is the specific requirement of the call center employees working long hours and night shifts.
Going further, the beverage giant also sponsors various sports events in and around the world targeting sportsmen who are in a constant requirement for energy booster non-alcoholic beverages.
Type of Brand activation 2 – Experiential Marketing
With the latest and modern technological advancements, the technique of experiential marketing and branding has come into the picture and has worked wonders for the brands to showcase their products and services through virtual and augmented reality.
Many of the real estate developers showcase their project along with amenities, facilities, and other features by displaying 3D walkthroughs, virtual videos that takes the viewers on the interesting journey of the show and sample apartment, and setting up innovative stalls and kiosks at various trade shows and exhibitions on the national and international level, making the experience quite a memorable one for the consumers that results in sales growth and overall brand awareness.
Type of Brand activation 3 – In-Store or Mall Brand Activation
This marketing measure is followed by luxury car giants by hiring an open space at a famous mall and displays the newly launched actual car to the consumers. This activity is undertaken over the weekends or during the sale period at the mall as it results in major footfall. The consumers can actually experience all the features of the car, run a test drive, and gather all the information on the product to necessitate their purchase decision.
Features of Brand Activation
- The main objective of Brand Activation is not to provide impetus to the sales growth but is to create brand awareness and customer engagement that arises the brand consciousness in the minds of the customers resulting in the loyalty.
- It is not a one man’s job but teamwork; hence, it is also important for the brand to hire a great agency onboard that specializes in the Brand Activation ways and techniques taking due care every minute intricacy driving the success of the campaign.
- It is a vital part of the marketing mixthat comprises of product, price, promotion, and place; hence, it is essential to plan and strategize the Brand Activation campaign by working out the available resources and budgets in hand for the optimum returns on the investment.
- It is always viable to test the campaign before the final roll-out as its core fundamental is working in the live environment with the live audience. It is prudent for the campaign to be cohesive with the changing dynamics of the market and the taste of the consumers.
- Importance of Brand Activation
Brand activation that fosters engagement helps in:
- Boosting brand loyalty
- Fulfilling buyer needs
- Appealing to senses
- Satisfying market needs and demands
- Enhances sales
- However, the goal of brand activation shouldn’t necessarily be focused on the buying process like most authorities and academics would tell you. Instead, it should focus on fostering engagement. In this article, we would be taking a very practical look at how we can activate a brand to foster engagement.
- What a good brand activation routine looks like
- A good brand activation program follows a multi-channel approach. You will need to combine social, digital and real life engagement in order to activate emotions and behaviors that are desired. In other words, brand activation ensures that certain behaviors and emotions are activated each time a prospect encounters your brand.
Brand activation comes in many forms and is delivered through multiple channels. Brand activation that resonates with customers and achieves results calls for strategic planning that starts with “why.” Why will your target audiences care? Why would they engage? Then focus on the “how.”
- Whether the objective is to move products off the shelf, sign up new customers, increase subscriptions to an email newsletter or raise support for a cause through donations or fundraising, brand activation is not just about gaining affinity — it’s about inspiring consumers to act.
- By starting with “why” and developing an activation model through a multichannel approach — think social, experiential, digital — you can foster engagement and emotion that creates face-to face engagement with your audience and sells products. Personalizing and layering the experience will get you further than a strict awareness campaign implemented in a silo. Here are five steps for creating brand activation programs that inspire consumers to act:
- Decide what action you want your consumers to take. Start by articulating your goals. They must be quantifiable. The costs of your approach will most likely dictate that you accomplish more than raising awareness.
- Determine how you will know your audiences actually care. Don’t just plan to show off. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, people don’t care how much you know ’til they know how much you care”.
- When you’ve determined your objectives, formulate your idea for activation. Consider how it will embody your brand attributes. If you are leveraging an event in your activation strategy, think beyond the photo booth and customized tchotchkes to visualize what would create a lasting impression and influence consumers to take the next steps — to transition them from acquaintances of your brand to advocates for it. This requires thinking outside the silo to leverage cross-channel tactics.
What is Brand Essence ?
Brand Essence is the heart soul and major characteristic of a brand. It is also referred to as the brand mantra. It defines a brand. It is emotional and based on feelings. It is an intangible attribute that separates your brand from your competition’s brand by your audience
A brand essence is intangible for your audience, unique to your brand and, most importantly, reliable.
It is not a commodity, nor is it product related. It is the essential feeling evoked in your audience when they hear your brand name. It combines the attributes and benefits of your brand succinctly. Therefore, your brand essence should be boiled down to one or maybe two words.
Lets look at some well known brand examples
- Visa = Everywhere
- FedEx = Safe
- Disney = Magical
- REI = Adventurous
- XINI = Your Walking Imagination
A brand essence is meant to be authentic. Likewise, it must be scalable to your overall brand’s growth.
For example, a brand may want to choose the word “personal” because your customer service is direct and individualized. However, examine the essence in relationship to the growth of your brand.
- Will you be able to keep that feeling consistent if you were to increase your client load tenfold?
- Do you want your audience to feel like they are dealing with someone on personal level for all their needs indefinitely?
- Does “personal” relate to your products, both current and future?
- Is this a reliable and sustainable claim?
- Will your brand personality match “personal” as your brand essence?
Make sure your brand management team helps you pick an essence that doesn’t just feel right in the moment but also asks long-term strategic questions to help you define your brand essence for the goals of your company, small business, or nonprofit.
Brands have a natural lifecycle moving around this matrix. When new brands are launched, they have low awareness and sales. You need to find other leading indicators to judge their success. The degree of differentiation, as perceived by customers, is a great leading indicator. Brands with high differentiation but low awareness are your emerging stars – they may have low sales now, but as awareness and sales distribution increase, they will become your power brands. If customers do not perceive a new product as differentiated, cut it – there is no point fighting an uphill battle to build awareness and distribution without a product edge.
All Thanks to Strategictool for the piece.
Power brands are your current performers – fully mature, they are both differentiated and with high awareness. Marketers invest to keep their brands in this position. Maintaining Differentiation is a continuous competitive battle however, and brands sometimes lose their edge.
t takes longer for them to lose their awareness, so the brands that lose differentiation slip to become “has-been”. Their sales are high, but they are driven by high awareness and high weighted distribution. These brands are living on borrowed time however, they are living off their historical equity. If they cannot innovate to recover differentiation, they will slide slowly down to irrelevance, losing awareness and distribution since they no longer recruit new customer champions to end their lives as weak brands.
When is it useful?
This portfolio framework is useful when analysing a brand portfolio. It immediately shows the health of the portfolio, looking beyond short term sales numbers to highlight the expected future. For brands, it works better than the BCG Matrix in resource allocation decisions, giving top-down guidance on what to focus on in the brand plan.
The emphasis for Emerging Stars should be investment to boost awareness and distribution, expanding channels and customer reach. For has-been brands, it should be on innovation to restore differentiation. Weak brands have not earned investment.
How do you do the analysis?
You need to apply it intelligently. For example, your target market might change from brand-to-brand – there is no point measuring awareness and perceived differentiation in young men of a product aimed at older women.
Once you have identified the right target customers to measure, awareness (either aided or unaided) and differentiation metrics come directly from your brand tracking market research.
Plotting movement over a number of years on this map can give a dynamic picture of the portfolio health.
For global brands, the position on this matrix represents a weighted average across all their markets. If you are analysing a global brand, plotting the position of every country on this matrix will help your resource allocation
How can you adapt this concept?
Another way to look at the brand health is to analyze the demographics of loyal customers. Vibrant brands will have strong equity in young people – you need to be differentiated in order to recruit. Dying brand sales and equity will be concentrated in older consumers – these customers will continue to buy the brand if it is still in distribution purely on loyalty and habit, even if there are better products available.
The Main Consideration in Brand Essence
And this brings us to the second step to ensure that your product is preferred over its competitors.
All the experiences of your target market that can influence their perception of your product are communications.
A communication is any experience we develop for another or others, which experience results in a specific perception in their mind/s. Which perception would not have occurred without that experience.
So in order to ensure that your products are preferred over those of your competitors, you must regard all the experiences that your target market will have. Those that they might attribute to your product, as communications. As communications that will contribute toward the development or consolidation of the right perception in their minds.
All Brand Essence is Communications
As these experiences are really communications, they must be designed and managed specifically. Managed to generate the perceptual residues that will form or affirm the right perception for your product.
To put it more obviously, you must regard every kind of experience that your target market might have. Everything which can contribute to their perception of your product. As a different communications medium. And that you must manage and design for maximum impact toward the delivery and formation of the right product perception.
Beside the Obvious, Think about your Brand Essence
Aside from the communications media that you already think of as such, like advertising, promotions, merchandising and packaging. You must now focus on those target market experiences. Experiences that you have so far not thought of as communications media. But, which have already been influencing your target market’s perception of your product.
The actual performance of your product. And, the behavior of the people or methods for product support. These are probably the most important communications media toward generating the right perception for your product.
Brand Essence is a type of media
And these communications media involve not just the performance of your product in use.
It also includes how easy it is to access. How convenient it is to use. How effortlessly it prevents waste. And how it looks in their home, the demeanor of your support people. Their actual behavior, their effectiveness at solving actual customer problems. And, the consistency between the things they say and what actually happens for customers.
Some of these hitherto unknown communications media are therefore your product design. Your product research, your product manufacturing, your product components and your product reliability. It also includes your sales people, processes and methods, your billing people, processes and methods, your collections people and methods. And your customer service people, processes and methods.
Bottom line, it’s high time you think of your business as a communications company as well.
It’s high time you think of all of the experiences that your target market might have that might influence their perception. The perception of your product as communications media.
And it’s high time that you design and manage all these experiences. Just as you already design and manage your more ‘obvious’ communications media. Remember, to NOT think of and treat all the kinds of experiences your target market will have of your product as communications. Will inevitably result in unintended perceptual residues. Feelings in the minds of your target market that might dilute, diffuse or even prevent the formation of the right product perception. And thus reduce your product’s preference among your target markets. Thus reducing your revenues as well.
Your business is already also a communications company, whether you know it or not.
Every brand needs a Pyramid
What is a Brand Pyramid?
A brand pyramid is a tool that answers the fundamental questions outlined above in a pyramid like diagram that can be easily shared and communicated across your company. The only thing it doesn’t tackle directly are questions related to the company’s mission and vision (although the brand essence is a direct result of what the company wants to be when it grows up or its vision).
Why it matters?
Developing a brand pyramid might seem like a trivial exercise but it’s important because it does 4 essential things for your business:
- Forces consensus among senior management on what the company wants to be, who it serves, why, how it should make customers feel and what the company’s core values are.
- Clarifies some of the brands fundamentals — such as what is the essence of the brand.
- Sets the strategic foundation of the brand.
- Provides all this information in an easy-to-use diagram that can be quickly shared with other founders and employees in a way that’s easy to share and understand.
What it’s made up of?
The brand pyramid is made up of 5 components going from bottom to top:
Product features and attributes: This section explains what the different features of the products are (for example — a messaging app might also have emoji, video chat and group chat functionality).
Functional benefits: This section helps provide clarity around “what problem are we solving? Why would a customer use our product and what is the expectation once they’ve used it?” (in our above example, the messaging app helps you communicate with others via text, voice and video in a way that’s free).
Emotional benefits: Beyond just solving the customer’s need this component helps answer “How does the customer feel after using our product?” If you recall one of my previous posts on why startups should focus on “slaying dragons not in talking tech”, customers aren’t just interested in your product features, they want you to tell them a story. They want to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and feel just a little bit better that morning simply because they are using your product. That’s where the emotional benefits comes in. (in our messaging app example, maybe the app helps users feel “close”, “secure”, “needed”. These are the emotional needs the app can provide.) Why do emotions matter? Because consumers who feel a certain emotional to a product are less likely to churn than those who don’t! — that reduces your marketing costs and keeps your keeps consumers coming, using and, hopefully, paying.
Brand Persona and/or Core Values: If your brand were a person, how would you describe him or her? What are the values that are important to this person and to your company? How does everything you do from product development to marketing to customer service reinforce these core values? Think of Geico’s Gecko for example. The Gecko is friendly, approachable and curious. These are attributes which users can relate to and it makes them feel closer to Geico as an insurance product.
Brand Essence / Idea: The brand essence is the underlying idea and answers the “why” customers should care about your brand. For example, Apple’s brand essence is “empowering people through technology”. Brand essence is essentially your brand’s DNA. What you stand for and what differentiates you from your competition. It’s the core about makes you “you”.
Practical implications and what it means for your business
The ultimate goal of your company and especially your marketing team, is to get customers to understand, believe and evangelize your product or service to others. The more closely a consumer actually really gets your brand’s essence and is willing and eager to share this with others, the more loyal they are, the stronger the relationship, and the less likely that customer is to switch to a competitor’s product. They are also more likely through word of mouth (WOM) to recommend your product to a friend. Establishing a brand’s essence in the mind of a customer is the “holy grail” of marketing and a goal rarely achieved by most brands. I discussed the benefits of a strong brand in another post so let’s talk about “how” you actually build your brand pyramid.
Developing your brand pyramid
The first step is really understanding whether you need to develop a brand pyramid or how solid your current one really is. That’s where a brand “review” comes into play. The simplest way to do this is to interview all the key people in your company and ask them the list of questions I mentioned at the beginning of this post. If the answers are very consistent and aligned then you’re doing a good job. If not, you’ve got some work to do. You might also want to interview a few of your customers and/or potential customers to see what they think. The answers may surprise you.
For an early stage or mid sized company (10–200 or so) I would suggest the following:
- Create a list of questions like the ones I mentioned at the top of the article. Expand on those if you need to.
- Interview your key employees / founders and some customers. It’s preferable to actually interview each one of them 1–1 for at least 45–60 minutes and to send them a list of key questions and themes so they come well prepared to the meeting.
- Gather all the feedback and input it into a “current state” document that you can present to relevant stakeholders.
- Set up an initial meeting where you highlight:
- What a brand pyramid is and why it matters
- A snapshot of your audit and what it reveals
- A calendar and overview of what’s needed to develop your brand pyramid
- Conduct a brainstorm meeting with the same key stakeholders. The aim is really to get them all aligned in terms of what each core component of the brand pyramid is.
- Develop your first draft based on the brainstorm and present this to the same group of stakeholders.
- Get input and adjust the brand pyramid as needed.
- Once you’ve gotten key people to sign off you should present the brand pyramid to the wider company (sales, engineers, customer support, HR etc.). Depending on the size of your business you’ll want to either do this at an all hands and possibly have members of the marketing team present this to all relevant customer facing teams and team leads.
- With the brand pyramid finished and presented you should add it to your Brand Bible(if you already have one), upload it to the marketing page of your intranet and ensure everyone knows where it is.
How to keep the Brand Pyramid Alive
Congratulations! You’ve developed your brand pyramid. But to keep it going and make it a reality as opposed to just a pretty diagram and management exercise, founders and/or senior management should continuously reinforce your brand essence and core values publicly whenever they have the opportunity.
One way to do that would be to start off each all hands with a 2 minute recap of your brand essence and values. Another way I’ve seen this successfully implemented is to institute quarterly rewards for employees who exemplify your brand values and brand essence through actions and initiatives of their own. At Course Hero, the company where I used to work, they took this a step farther and actually developed Slack emoticons that people would use in conversations whenever someone did something that furthered the company’s core values. Pretty cool if you ask me!
Hope this helps. Building a great brand pyramid is essential in getting your senior management on the same page. The brand pyramid is a great tool to set the foundation for your company’s brand strategy and can become vital, when used properly, for consistently living up to your brand’s promise. But remember, it’s just a tool and building a great brand is all about consistency, focus and patience.
XINI as a brand management agency in Lagos Nigeria, We ensure that our clients stay peak through all the needed brand experience that converts to them daily. Think XINI think Brand think Value.
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