Executive Q&A Session with Chris Kapsalis EVP, General Manager
How is experiential marketing changing?
Undoubtedly, the integration of social and digital marketing into experiential has changed the landscape. It may seem trite to recognize that in 2013 but the idea of true live + digital integration is still sorely lacking. Too many agencies, and brands by extension, are making the mistake of thinking of social and digital as a bolt on program extender that helps to solve the reach question. In reality, just like experiential, social and digital are all about understanding how to create meaningful two-way dialogue with your audiences. The social and digital conversation should begin in the ideation phase, a fully integrated live + digital effort cannot come from an add-on. Agencies that are not fully integrating this way of thinking into every facet of their business are missing the real opportunity.
Top Five Parts of a Successful Brand Experience
1. Know what you are trying to do.
Understand what you want your audience to think and feel after having gone through the experience. Too many brands confuse metrics with creating real perception shifts, but to be successful you first need to clearly define what success looks like.
2. Integrate social and digital at the beginning.
At the initial concept stage your team needs to be looking at the idea through a live + digital lens in order to maximize ROI.
3. Be bold. Take the cuffs of the creative team.
Many clients claim to want the big idea but what they really want is an idea that is safe and won’t upset legal. What you often end up with is an idea born from consensus. To get to the big idea, you need internal alignment upfront and a realization that you may in fact upset someone as you see it through.
4. Be obsessive about the details.
The best ideas in the world are worth exactly nothing if the execution is flawed. Realize that most of the flaws hide in the nuances, the tiny little details that seem small in the grand scheme but can make or break an experience live.
5. Follow through.
Like a bad golf swing, if you stop at impact you lose all power. Don’t think of an awesome experience as the end game but rather the start of the relationship with your audience. Build on it, follow up, drive to retail and say thank you. Just keep the conversation going.
What's the biggest difference between b-to-b and b-to-c activation?
While there are inherent differences between b-to-b and b-to-c activation, we find that too many marketers focus on the differences between the two as opposed to the similarities. For our b-to-c experiences to resonate, and cut through the clutter, they have to relate to consumers on an emotional level. However, a consumer will not buy a product they have an emotional tie to if it does not perform as promised and therefore appeal to their rationale side.
On the b-to-b side the purchasing decisions are more rational, typically due to higher price tags, but a customer may still purchase a product that has faults due to the emotional relationship they have with the brand, dealer, etc. therefore using their emotional side. For both audiences we have to build context for brands within the consumer's lifestyle and we have to do it in a manner that is bold, authentic and contagious. Just because the format may be different from b-to-c and b-to-b, in the end all of the same rules apply.
If we look at b-to-b tradeshows we see that most marketers use the same formulaic approach of tradeshow booth, speaking engagements, etc. While these elements fulfill the customers’ rational needs, they do not break through the clutter to appeal to the emotional side of the customer. Get creative. Learn your customers’ passion points and speak to them. Develop true relationships with your customers. Create owned environments and look at every touch point as an opportunity to connect your brand on an emotional and rational level to key stakeholders. The emotional tie they feel with your brand will help your brand win.
Remember, your customers, sales team, internal stakeholders are all essentially consumers and will evaluate the experience through that lens. Take a hard look at your b-to-b experiences and ask yourself if this was a consumer event, would you want to attend?