Confessions Of An Experiential Marketing Expatriate

When was the last time your well-thought-out brand plan included a live brand experience component? If it was recent, stop reading. This isn’t for you. If you can’t remember, read on. My big question to you is: why not?

I’ve spent the larger part of my marketing career in experiential agencies, working on both general market and U.S. Hispanic programs. When I left the experiential space two years ago, I was surprised how often I heard from some advertisers that experiential was a “nice-to-have,” but not needle-moving when it comes to sales.

But overlooking experiential is a missed opportunity– especially in the U.S. Hispanic space. I’ve not witnessed a consumer being personally touched by a traditional piece of advertising at the level I have seen with experiential. It’s not that experiential can replace or be more valuable than tried-and-true traditional advertising media. But since we’re aiming to establish an emotional, personally engaging, culturally relevant connection with the U.S. Hispanic consumer, why not leverage the one type of media that hinges around establishing a direct, face-to-face, doesn’t-get-more-personal-than-that medium?



What about a bit of handholding? In an environment where everything is automated, online, liked, Skyped and linked, a little personal interaction is a very good thing. In the world of experiential, there’s quite literally dialogue taking place with each consumer. A consumer gets to talk to and live the brand. Due to more complex language needs, family dynamics and other cultural barriers and nuances, this interaction can be very powerful when it comes to the Hispanic consumer.

Sure it has a price tag. The big objections to experiential is usually cost per impression, but that’s like comparing using a shotgun and a sniper rifle. Surely you’re getting a wider reach by airing a :30 spot across millions of households, but if on average a consumer spends, say a minimum of five minutes with a relevant and engaging experience, you most likely have a convert. And someone much more likely to inspire brand purchase and influence via word of mouth. An experiential dollar is a dollar that keeps on giving. And given the usually limited budgets allotted to targeting the Hispanic audience and the market’s receptivity to word of mouth, this is key.

Texas is not Miami. Far from being homogenous, the Hispanic community is defined by a wide range of subsegments, each constantly changing and with its unique set of nuances on everything from language acculturation to local social dynamics. With TV and print, for example, we develop creative, toss as wide a net as possible and hope to catch the most on a single throw. But by supplementing with an experience designed with the flexibility to be customized for each local market, we can truly get granular and deliver both effective product mass messaging paired with individual and more locally relevant content.

Some goodwill. Here’s a nice bonus: bringing a brand to life in a consumer’s hometown delivers some extra goodwill. It shows our Latino consumer that the brand is committed to them and their particular community. That it cares enough to prepare an experience just for them. That they matter enough to get from behind the desk at headquarters to get to meet them. And this is a necessary step in gaining the Hispanic consumer’s trust and loyalty.

So write this on a Post-It and keep it close: “Don’t overlook experiential”. And as you shape holistic Hispanic marketing platforms, consider the power of integrating personally relevant and culturally engaging live experiences. They can not only bring above the line creative to life, but can also be the key to forging longstanding relationships with the Hispanic consumer.

I’ve seen too many 360 diagrams with a little bubble labeled “Events” ... usually, it doesn’t make it. Let it live! (Pun intended) It’s worth it.



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