FORBES: How To Make Branded Experiences Rock And Then Go Viral

Is Brand Experience the New Media Darling of the Marketing Mix?

Published by Chris Cavanaugh, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Freeman | Source: Freeman Face to Face blog

Today’s brands must engage and inspire to accelerate business results.

Earlier this week, the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign took to Capitol Hill for Exhibitions Day to help lawmakers understand why a thriving exhibitions and events industry is good for everyone. Last month, researchers at Ad Age noted in a recent report that overall promotion, events and experiential agency revenue is growing at a greater rate than advertising, PR, and media. Forbes writer Allen Adamson explains that “experiential branding has always been a part of the marketing toolbox, a promotional activity meant to encourage interaction with and immersion in a brand.”

Brand experience is hot right now, and why not? Nothing engages audiences like integrated brand experiences.

Adamson writes that when done right, a brand experience “helps people connect with a brand on a much more personal level than mass media allows, and generates a deeper feeling of emotional engagement, leaving a positive and lasting impression.” Why is that? Because when you boil it all down, whether B2B or B2C, the audience of our marketing efforts is comprised of people – real people who want to connect with like-minded individuals, inspire and be inspired, and experience something incredible. Adamson goes on to say, “Done really right, it gets people to share their experience, tell their version of the brand story, extending reach and awareness of the brand to a broader audience free of charge.” He refers to this viral impact as the Holy Grail and offers three rules for successful experiential branding: do something extraordinary; link to your brand’s core identity; and attract the right audience. These rules are spot on. Everything in the marketing mix must be rooted in your overarching business and marketing strategy and derived from your audience needs. In our oversaturated modern way of life, it takes something truly extraordinary, executed flawlessly, to cut through the clutter.

If I may, I would add another rule. Brand experiences must also accelerate business results and must be designed in a way to do so. Smart marketers are aligning their marketing portfolios and event portfolios on moving the business forward. To do this, a measurement and data collection plan must be in place, which is where the intersection of live events and digital technology is so exciting. As more event and audience engagement technologies emerge, we have more and more opportunities to collect data to give our audiences what they want and need, and ultimately accelerate business results, shorten sales cycles, and improve ROI.