The success of the world’s greatest companies comes back to the quality of their products. A world-class product is irreplaceable to the user and generates word-of-mouth marketing. Many of the world’s most innovative brands are capitalizing on the Experience Economy and consumers’ desire to spend their resources on live experiences, and they are diving headfirst into experiential marketing with branded experiences and events. Coincidently, one could draw many parallels between the processes of product development and the creation of branded experiences in real life.
It’s critical that companies treat their experiential marketing activations with the same approach as they do their products. Products are designed, built, tested, measured, optimized and marketed. By implementing product development tactics into event production like A/B testing, personalization and data-driven decision-making, companies are able to measure, optimize and produce branded experiences that are on par with even the best product experience.
Firstly, it’s paramount to set KPIs for branded experiences as companies do with their products. Before Salesforce builds another product, they forecast and set goals on how they expect that new product or feature to affect change in their users and ultimately uplift their company-wide metrics. There needs to be that same planning and buy-in on what the goals of your experiential marketing activations are and how to measure them. Brands often have a range of goals, everything from increasing sales of XYZ product to an increase in social media engagement to the holy grail of experiential marketing. Building brand champions and creating brand advocacy can last a lifetime. Whatever the objective, make sure it is measurable in order to understand your successes (and failures).
Secondly, you can’t build the best product if you don’t know your audience. It goes without saying that understanding your customers is key to a successful branded experience. When it comes to experiential marketing, gone are the days where companies can find real value in slinging free margaritas at a happy hour and casting a wide net in hopes of creating brand love among anyone who might happen to hear about the event. When producing experiential marketing activations of any scale, companies must first prioritize the demographics and psychographics of who the experience is built for and tailor the event accordingly. A branded cocktail class will impact a midwestern father of two very differently than a 19-year-old freshman in California.
Just like developing a world-class product for a specific market, brands must gather and leverage data behind who will participate in the activation. Using predictive marketing to target participants who will be most positively influenced by your experiences is one way of doing so. Once you have robust data from your activations, you’ll be able to target similar demographics, who are the most apt to become brand champions.
Most of the world’s most amazing brands iterate and test their way to success. Alexa’s intelligence is always updating and improving, and Facebook constantly shifts locations of buttons to A/B test how customers use their products. Brands do this in order to optimize click-throughs, grow addiction to the platform and ultimately increase engagement with the product. Akin to how companies test their products and features, brands need to test new elements in their branded experiences and iterate to optimize them. No longer can experiential marketing be driven by intuition and gut feelings. For measurable KPIs like growth of brand awareness, brand perception and purchase behavior, CMOs don’t want to be told that participants left happy. You can’t measure experiential marketing with smiles.
Lastly, use the data that you’ve gathered to scale what works. Once an experience has been optimized and has a measurable success, add fuel to the fire, as companies do to their new product releases.
We are in the midst of the Experience Economy, and brands will only stay relevant if they create experiences in the way they’ve crafted the products that we love. In an age where time is everyone’s most limited resource, attention is more valuable than ever and companies have a lot more to fight for. The winning brands will be the ones that methodologically build experiences that have a measurable and proven path to consumer engagement.