Amplify Your Experiential Marketing Campaigns By Asking The Right Questions

If you’re like most experiential marketers, you’re probably wondering what happened to January and February. From a sports perspective, the Super Bowl, X Games, NHL and NBA All-Star Games, and the Daytona 500 are now in the rearview mirror. March Madness is right around the corner and we, as sports marketers, are quickly realizing that our first quarter is coming to an end. Second quarter programs are rapidly approaching and most of us are now knee-deep in strategy, ideation and planning. With that in mind, this is the perfect time to challenge yourself and reconsider your approach to your 2012 experiential marketing plans.

The days of popping up a tent and just “executing” are way behind us. Experiential marketing in today’s landscape is truly about delivering a total brand experience. Some key issues we’re facing now are that our event experiences must begin far earlier in the activation cycle with digital and social networks leading the way to prime our audiences for an upcoming event. Our on-site consumers have become far more tech-savvy and expect an experience that will provide them with instant gratification, in addition to something they’ve never experienced before.

Overall, consumers have come to realize that a free foam football is nice, but the influence and purchase power they hold is worth much more. They want to be wowed over time before they fully engage with a brand and that will take a much different approach than most marketers are using today. These factors make it imperative to connect with your target consumer during multiple phases around your event activation. The goal should be to create familiarity with a brand and strategically provide consumers with the tools that enable them to become the long term influencers that you desire.

Leaders in the traditional marketing industry are throwing out the old marketing funnel and are adopting a more circular approach to take advantage of today’s extended consumer decision journey. In the sports marketing and lifestyle industry, we’ve already seen this shift in which brands are requiring their experiential marketing programs to be, not only larger than a single touch point, but also a catalyst for consumers to actively evaluate and engage with the brand over time.

The sports world is filled with events attended by millions of passionate consumers (fans); your goal should be to tap into the already existing fan passion, and create an integrated strategy to encircle the consumer and their engagement habits around their sport(s) of choice. In the end, consumers want to engage with a brand before they actually participate in an actual activation. Every step of this engagement whether pre-event, during or post-event should provide an opportunity for consumers to share their experience with friends and family, and organically lead them to consideration, purchase and continued advocacy for a brand.

So as you plan your upcoming event or experience, consider every factor in the marketing mix that can take your activation to the next level. Here are the main questions you should ask yourself as you’re planning your event.

Pre-Event

  • How can we pre-promote our experience in a compelling way?
  • How will this pre-promotion not only create buzz, but provide our target audience a way to evaluate our brand or product.
  • How can we utilize social networks, online media, public relations and our web presence to drive this interaction?
  • How will the brand look and sound during this phase of promotion and consumer interaction?
  • How will all this pre-activity or promotion drive interest for our on-site experience?
  • How will our on-site activity continue the consumer’s active evaluation of our brand?
  • How will, or can technology take our consumer experience to new heights?
  • What kind of pertinent content can we create during our event?

During the Event

  • How are we pushing out our event activities and content via digital, social and web during activation?
  • Does our program provide enough brand interaction time for our consumer to make a connection?
  • Do our event activities drive the consumer to increase purchase intent and foster loyalty?
    • What consumer information can we gather on site in order to develop a longer relationship?
    • How can we gather, store and utilize that CRM information?
    • How do we survey consumers to see if they engaged with the brand prior to that day’s activation?
    • Was that brand engagement driven by our pre-event activities?

Post- Event

  • How will we communicate with our core target post event?
  • How can we post-promote the experience in a compelling way?
  • How will this post-promotion build on our initial buzz, and provide our audience with a way to continue evaluating or considering our brand or product?
  • How will we utilize social networks, online media, public relations and our web presence to drive this post-event interaction?
  • How will our content be pushed out post event?
  • How will success be measured and will our metric prove the event was a success?
  • How will we take advantage of the CRM data we’ve collected onsite?
  • How will the next event continue the momentum that we’ve started?

A fully integrated approach to your experiential marketing program is a must in today’s competitive landscape. If you do not connect early and provide your target consumer the opportunity to engage with your brand in multiple ways before, during and after your experience, you are doing your brand a disservice.

Experiential marketing should not be looked at as just a tactic or a complement to your traditional/sports marketing campaign. Experiential marketing is an integral part of any effective integrated brand strategy, and literally has the power to bring your brand to life across all mediums. This sounds simple in theory, but now you need to ask the right questions, find the right answers and make it happen.  

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