Experiential Marketing in the Age of Consumer Control
LIVE UNION 26 x 20 = 8.40I’m going to be looking at the power of live, face-to-face, experiences in a world where consumers are in control.
Consumers having more controls means brands have to work harder to get their attention. But beware the brand thatblags it. Being genuine is a prerequisite. Because consumers are able to interrogate claims and compare notes anddecide on their validity like never before.
DoingIn short, brands that aren’t genuine get found out. It’s no longer enough for a brand just to say that they’re passionateor believe in this or that, they need to demonstrate it. They need to go beyond saying and start doing.For those of us in the doing business of events this is great news.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/39867811@N08/3675363548/in/faves-39723272@N00/At the same time, the value that consumers place on live experiences has never been greater. As all other media havebeen digitized and thus can be copied, shared and time shifted, live, one off, you had to be there events have a newfound specialness for people.
Experience BrandsSo, who are the brands that have gone beyond simply saying? The term Experience Brands has been coined todescribe them – ones like Starbucks / Nike / Lego /, as well as smaller brands that I’ve included in this presentation;brands that invite participation and continually invent new experiences.
http://www.hellicarandlewis.com/2009/10/16/night-lights/At the same time, the value that consumers place on live experiences has never been greater. As all other media havebeen digitized and thus can be copied, shared and time shifted, live, one off, you had to be there events have a newfound specialness for people.
Big BrandsWho are the brands who lead the way in this area? Let’s start by look at some of the behemoths who put their faith inlive. Typically using live to light a fire at the heart of the brand and then using all the other channels at their disposal tofan the flames.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/bnsd/4766047484/in/faves-39723272@N00/Red Bull is a brand that grew primarily without advertising. They had a clear proposition - Red Bull Gives you Wings -and they set out to communicate this through fun live experiences that drive vast amounts of engagement across allchannels. This is flugtag –their human flight event.
How does Smirnoff convince young people that it is a passionate about nightlife? It creates a real world experiencethat enables consumers in 14 countries around the world to swap the best nightlife experiences they can muster. Thebrand putting on simultaneous parties in the different countries.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/devries_publicrelations/2628310799/in/faves-39723272@N00/CSR is an area where brands frequently get found out for not meaning what they say. Tide demonstrate theircommitment to being clean by creating the Cleanstart programme – a mobile laundry that is deployed to areas inneed – such as New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.
Smaller BrandsWhat about smaller brands? Isn’t this stuff too expensive for them? Don’t they lack the media weight to exploit theevents. For smaller brands live experiences coupled with social media are proving to be a great way of punchingabove their weight, creating content that gets them noticed.
This is Fraser Doherty, teenage entrepreneur and founder of Super Jam, now stocked in all major supermarkets. Howdid he do it? By having a story to tell and getting out there and telling it. The brand hosts Tea Dances for the old folk ofScotland – nothing flash – but it tells of a genuine passion – people like it and talk about it and buy it.
This is Howies – their story is about being an ethical producer of skate and bike clothing. How were they going to getnoticed? They created the Do Lectures – held in Teepees close to their HQ in Wales. They gave free tickets to theirmost influential customers, filmed the content and amplified it online.
RetailRetailers are seeing the value in eventising their stores – today if your store is just a place to buy then you are doingsomething wrong; the in control consumer scans the barcode and finds out where they can buy it more cheaply.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/4772796102/in/faves-39723272@N00/US retailer Lululemon’s tagline is yoga inspired athletic apparel, they show they’re genuine about this by running yogaclasses in store. They extend this concept by giving away free passes to local yoga studios if you pop by the store or ifyou check in on Four Square or like them on Facebook.
B to BThis is all very well when it comes to talking to consumers but what about business partners? Well of course the powerof meeting people face-to-face is fundamental to business. For brands with a tough communication task to achieveevents are particularly effective.
Our client Trip Advisor is one such business. Faced with a mounting criticism from hoteliers over the damage done byrogue reviews, Trip Advisor responded by running an event series; getting face-to-face, listening and offeringsolutions. When a brand has some heavy lifting to do live has powers beyond other channels.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/saucysalad/4964599756/in/faves-39723272@N00/I want to finish by putting myself in your shoes, thinking where the interesting future opportunities lie, where theinnovation is coming from within the live sector and how to get started with this stuff.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/spine/2408128801/in/faves-39723272@N00/Live is a finite resource – there are only so many station concourses or summer days in the park available. At their bestlive experiences make great use of these engagement opportunities at their worst they are in danger of being urbanspam.So where can a brand find great live opportunities?
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/moxxo/4543512366/in/faves-39723272@N00/Increasingly it is in the bridge between live and digital. Nike Grid is a recent campaign, enabling runners to own thecity, to run between phone boxes and at each one to dial in a unique code. They competed with other runners to coverLondon’s 48 postcodes.
But where this got really fun was online – not only was there an online leader board, you could map your route, seeother people’s routes and they visualized the data beautifully, segmenting it to show boys v girls etc and exported andused it as a TV commercial.
Another rich vein to think about is bringing inanimate objects to life as experiences. Walls have created a smilevending machine. It maps your face and rewards you win an ice cream if your smile is big enough. The emotionalresonance of this experience compared to anything else I can remember Walls doing in their marketing is immense.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/generated/1545620972/in/photostream/Another approach is to start with your database or your social media audience. How can you use live to activate them,to turn fans into purchasers? As any event promoter will tell you, often the hardest part is finding an audience. Perhapsyou already have a large audience waiting for you to do something interesting.
A great start point can be with your most influential customers, the ones who really love you and talk about you. Howcan you invite them into the heart of your brand? Could you tell the story of your brand from inside out?
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/russelldavies/2839105279/in/faves-39723272@N00/Hopefully I’ve demonstrated that in a world where the consumer is in control, where you need to go beyond just sayingand start doing, live experiences offer great opportunities for brands of all sizes. The brands that are doing it best seecommunication not as a passive behaviour but as an action.
http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/7381171@N05/4311730212/sizes/l/in/set-72157623300749498/And finally, I’d just encourage everyone to get out there and check out the exciting stuff that is happening in live, notjust brand experiences, but all the other innovative live events that happen every day of the week. We collect togetherthe stuff we’re looking forward to here : http://liveforonenightonly.blogspot.com