I made my annual visit to International Confex at London Olympia yesterday, this time though without a venue sales hat on and I really enjoyed having the time and opportunity to attend some of the seminars, in particular Nick Morgan’s session on the future of experiential. Last week I also listened to Rebecca Sears’s lecture on experiential and these two experiences have inspired this post.

What is experiential? I like Dom Robertson’s, Managing Director of RPM, explanation: “Creating an interaction between a brand and a customer. Experiential is an approach/a way of thinking. The customer experience must always be at the core of the campaign.”

We as customers are becoming more savvy and much more informed now, we have changed from passive to active therefore above the line advertising is becoming less impactful and a high percentage of us believe companies don’t tell the truth in advertisements.

We are exposed to so much ‘marketing clutter’ on a daily basis. If you look online there are some fairly frightening statistics around which I’m not going to quote as it’s too difficult to estimate the real number, but regardless of whether it’s 500 or 5,000 we probably don’t notice half of them even though we’ve been exposed. Just because we see a message that we’re in reasonable proximity to doesn’t mean we saw it. It’s impossible for our brains to process so much information.

Experiential is a way of breaking through the noise. It’s a way of engaging with customers and driving conversation rather than speaking at them and it can create massive PR.

Experiential done right can also drive tremendous advocacy. It will inspire people to become brand ambassadors and market your product or event on your behalf generating huge word of mouth.

Rebecca explained there are 3 steps to advocacy building:

  1. Influencers – finding the right people and understanding what motivates them
  2. Breakthrough connections – creating experiences that engage and inspire them
  3. Tools – give them ways to spread the message

During Nick’s session he explained that experiential is becoming a saturated market so brands need to be subtler and think more about creating memorable experiences. Customers do not want to be sold at anymore, they crave new experiences and this is also being driven by the rise in social media, which is so intrinsic to the way we communicate now.

Experiential doesn’t have to be all singing and dancing, it can be a very simple idea. For example, during my time at Confex yesterday I walked by the Segway Events stand. Had I heard of Segway Events beforehand? No. Would I go away and talk about them? Most probably (I am now!). Why? Because rather than just talking to me, showing me their product and handing me a brochure they grabbed my attention by inviting me to try it out. I’ve never been on a Segway before so reluctantly at first I gave it a go. For me it brought that brand to life, I experienced it, I became engaged, we took photos and then I shared my new experience with friends, family and peers on social media, you may have seen the posts!

To round it off, in order to be successful an experiential campaign must offer a unique experience. Think about how to bring your brand to life, and how you can engage customers through that experience then give them the tools to go away and talk about it.

In Nick Morgan’s terms: “It’s about capturing the moment!”

In Rebecca Sears’s terms: “Done right it’s the most powerful tool out there to win brand loyalty.”

In Laymen’s terms: “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand” Confucius (Philosopher)

Until next time #Eventprofs…