Experiential marketing is like a fireworks show. Teams of professionals work for dozens of hours just to delight the audience with a 20-minute show of spectacular lights, sounds, and sensations.
How often do we think of the individuals behind the experience? A successful show requires chemists to engineer the fireworks, workers to produce them, pyrotechnics professionals to time the show perfectly and set fireworks off, fire department professionals to ensure safety, public works teams to clear flammable brush, and more.
Behind every successful show is a great team. And within every great team is a deep knowledge of cultural phenomena, target audiences, social media, and human behavior.
What makes experiential marketing successful?
Four elements make or break every experiential marketing event. Each is carefully researched and crafted by a team of professionals to delight and wow participants:
Careful attention to detail
Experiential marketers are trained ethnographers. Before putting on an event, they strive to understand consumers' likes, dislikes, social connections, buying habits, ethnic backgrounds, and more. For instance, the marketers who put on a Doc McStuffins Checkup Clinic tailored the event to children ages 2 to 10 who watch the hit show on Disney Junior. The marketing team carefully tweaked every detail of the event -- from the pink stethoscopes to the tiny lab coats to the nonthreatening bear to the duration -- to ensure it would be a hit with the audience.
Right time and place
An event won't be successful if it's located poorly or hosted when the audience is likely unavailable. It's an extreme example, but imagine the uproar an 8 a.m. whiskey tasting at a preschool might cause. For the Doc McStuffins Checkup Clinic, the event marketers smartly held the event at kid-friendly retailers like Toys "R" Us and Smyths. Accounting for short attention spans, the event gave children a 10-minute immersive experience.
Experiential marketers know an event's success hinges on what happens on social media before, during, and after the event. Campaigns need to promote the event early, make social sharing easy with predetermined hashtags or sharing ideas, and encourage users to spread the word and offer feedback. Red Bull's Stratos space jump video reached more than 39 million people because it was such a shareable, exciting event carefully tailored to social media.
Brands must consider in advance how they'll measure the success of an experiential campaign. If the brand's goal is awareness, then social reach might be the best metric by which to judge the campaign's effectiveness. If the brand goal is customer feedback, then the number of comments or insights from a post-event survey might be a better benchmark.
Build an experiential dream team
Every experiential campaign begins as a creative idea to wow consumers. But the team executing that plan is just as important as -- if not more than -- the idea behind it. These six positions are essential for an experiential marketing team that can build, curate, and measure a world-class campaign:
The brains behind campaigns, they craft the brand story and then decide how to best tell that story to engage potential consumers. Finally, they determine a timeline and budget for bringing the story to life.
Brand ambassador trainers and managers
Once the story is crafted, the team must act as a coherent arm of the brand. Ambassador trainers and managers are essential for coaching the ambassadors in specific brand language, event presentation, and protocols that govern how the brand can be marketed.
The ringmasters for the actual events, they must manage multiple layers of logistics in concert with the various layers' activities. They're responsible for set construction, catering, venue regulations, staffing, travel, promotional materials, and more.
Social media directors
Social media directors promote the event beforehand, respond to participants' questions, and solicit feedback on social media during and after the event. Knowing how, where, and when to use social media to support a campaign, engage and influence users, and establish strong brand bonds is critical to success.
Measurement coordinators gather, analyze, and share qualitative and quantitative data to understand the success of the event and to improve future campaigns and initiatives. They can help the brand articulate and curate impacts on brand awareness, social reach, sales, and customer relations after the event has ended.
Field managers are your boots on the ground during the event. They manage ambassador relationships, field consumers' questions, and track trends and culture of the area. Adept multitaskers, they attract talented ambassadors, ensure everything rolls out properly, and address any potential on-the-ground roadblocks to success.
Experiential marketing campaigns might look like small shows, but just ask the teams behind them: Hundreds of hours go into ensuring consumers have positive, enjoyable, and brand-boosting experiences at each event. If you want to put on the perfect event for your brand, then be sure to hire the right team and support them as they make the fireworks happen.