Make Everything Experiential

A couple of days ago I attended a talk by Creative Agency ‘Bright’ specialising in Brand Experience. It took place at Campus London, and the nature of the event was rather informal and relaxed. I really liked this as it made attendees feel comfortable enough to freely share their views and ask questions in an interactive, conversation-like way.

I’m jubilant I got a chance to attend it because I major in advertising, and in the module of marketing communications and advertising, we have “Expert and Novice” sessions. Everyone in the class had to choose the area they’d like to become experts in (as a result they become a novice in other fields). I chose experiential marketing. Coincidentally, the talk was all about experiential marketing, too. It was as if authors of academic journals I’d read stepped out of the textbooks matching the theories I’d covered in the class. It was fascinating to hear what field practitioners were saying regarding the subject. This event made it clear that what I’m studying right now is directly relevant, and thus I’m confident I’ll be able to apply the knowledge once I start working the industry. However, there was one fundamental difference between the academic and practitioner world.

The language used in the presentation made all the difference. The talk was designed to appeal to people who aren’t familiar with advertising terms, and thus it was very well ‘translated’ into an everyday regular English. As a matter of fact, the core of Design Thinking is empathy: the speakers really did put themselves in non-adman shoes.They employed videos, images and straightforward non-technical terms to convey the message. This minimised misunderstandings and enhanced clarity – know your audience, and speak its language. Engross the audience with what you’re saying, better yet make it part of the talk – have a conversation instead. That’s exactly what Bright did.

One of the reasons why experiential marketing works so well because it’s holistic: it taps into one’s emotional as much as a rational side of things. And therefore making an experiential marketing participatory is one of the ways to include both of those things. Regarding human senses from attendees point of view, a talk is usually ‘seen’, ‘heard’ or ‘read’ (if there’s a power point presentation, etc.). However, it possible to turn a talk into something potentially experiential so it appeals more i.e. by making it participatory (adding the ‘do’ factor). In other words, turning a talk into a conversation makes it both more appealing and efficient. According to one of the keynote speakers, Iain Swan, a co-founder of the brand experience agency,‘do’ is much more effective than the former; hence he showed something like this weight scale:

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Doing masters degree taught me to reference all the information sources and question the credibility of those sources. Thus during the talk, I made a note of the claim to double check whether the claim is sound or not. Just to let you know it does check out.

Also, must clarify that this does not mean that when organising ‘an experiential’ one should focus only on ‘do’. Instead incorporate it with hear, see, and read to maxima the experience. In fact, Brakus (2009) claims that there are four dimensions to scale and extent of experiential marketing and that one ought to combine all of them to maximise the experience indeed. These include sensory (hear, sight, touch, smell), affective (relating to moods: evoking emotions, sentiments, feelings), intellectual (learn something new, or/and see and feel from a different perspective), and behavioural (making one act in a certain way). Brand experience can be expressed through various channels such sponsorship events, pop-up shops, street events and trade fairs.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we’ll be having a trade fair of our own at the town square of Kingston. This fair will be the first out of university experience for our team ‘masterly:’, but our product ComfyEar will be exposed to non-students for a first time ever. After attending the talk, I’m confident that utilising the techniques of brand experience is one of the likely ways to go.

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