C-Suite Agenda

5 Ways Brands Get Experiential Marketing Wrong

Experiential marketing is the new black. Every brand, it seems, is getting in on the game. Though the benefits of a successful experiential marketing campaign are substantial, so is the hit if the campaign fails. According to a study by ZenDesk, 95 percent of customers who had a bad experience with a brand shared it with friends, family members or acquaintances, while 87 percent shared a positive experience.

Experiential marketing is very hard to get right, and very easy to get wrong. Here are a few key ways brands may be missing the target with experiential campaigns.

Pushing a sales pitch

At its core, experiential marketing is about making a genuine emotional connection with consumers. It is not about pushing a product or making a sales pitch. The easiest way to turn an experiential campaign sour is to make it all about the sales.

Today’s consumers are media-savvy and resent obvious sales pushes. According to research from McKinsey, word of mouth referrals guide 20 to 50 percent of all purchase decisions, and of that number, experiential word of mouth recommendations comprise up to 80 percent.There is a lot to lose if the campaign generates negative feedback, meaning that if your campaign is based on a sales pitch, the campaign will likely bomb.

Forgetting the feelings

Emotional engagement is an incredibly powerful thing. According to a study by the Tempkin Group, when individuals have a positive emotional association with a brand, they are 8.4 times more likely to trust the company, over seven times more likely to purchase more, and over six times more likely to forgive and forget a company snafu. And according to a Nielsen study, ad campaigns that elicited an above-average emotional response in consumers caused a 23% increase in sales as compared to average ad campaigns. Clearly, emotion converts.

Emotion also encourages brand loyalty, and studies show that consumers with previous experience with a brand are 60 percent more likely to convert than a new customer in subsequent brand interactions. Building an emotional connection is one of the key drivers behind the decision to open StickerYou: The Store, our brick and mortar space, this summer. We want to give customers an environment in which to be able to engage with our products, to feel the quality of custom stickers, labels and decals, and to be inspired by creative use-cases on display in the store.

Still, many brands forget about the feelings, or don’t consider what kinds of feelings certain campaigns will bring up in consumers. This is a crucial element of experiential marketing, which will determine every detail of the campaign, from the copy to the color scheme. Be sure to pay attention to it.

Not measuring outcomes

Experiential campaigns can be difficult to measure, but that doesn’t mean brands shouldn’t try. There are ways to identify levels of engagement, and brands should make sure to maximize them. From social media shares, likes and clicks to the number of people that show up to an event to the number of swag bags given out or active participants in an event or activity, make sure to identify KPIs and measure them to later evaluate efficacy.

Define the main marketing goals of the campaign, and derive ways to measure them.

Trying to reach everyone

The very idea of experiential marketing campaigns lends itself well to reaching hyper-targeted, localized groups. It’s tempting to try and have a little something that will appeal to a range of different consumer bases, but this is an easy way to dilute what should be a targeted, focused experience for one segment.

Experiential marketing is about quality, not quantity. Remember, consumers want to feel valued by a brand, and to feel engaged in the campaign. How can this be achieved when the goal is to appeal to as many people as possible?

Underestimating the budget and time investment

Just as the most simple ideas are often the ones that took the longest to craft, building a successful and impactful experiential marketing campaign may sound simple, but it rarely is. It takes time, attention to detail, advance planning, and of course, a budget that fits the campaign.

It’s all too common for brands to underestimate the time and money involved in experiential campaigns, and delivering a sub-par experience because of it.

Experiential marketing campaigns can deliver fantastic results for brands. Maximize this potential by keeping campaigns hyper-local, focused on the experience over a sales pitch and measurable, while budgeting appropriately for both financial and time investment.

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Andrew Witkin
As the founder and president of StickerYou, Andrew Witkin believes in the enormous power of customization. With over a decade of StickerYou success, he is one of Canada’s leading experts in e-commerce, customization, startups, marketing and the tech economy. He is a graduate of Dalhousie University and holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, York University. Witkin has previously served as VP North American Licensing for Nelvana/Corus Entertainment and Director of Marketing for MegaBrands/Mattel. Andrew is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.