HOW TO PLAN AN EXPERIENCE
In April, 2016, the brand gave out 500 single pink roses to commuters exiting a New York subway station. While the financial outlay was minimal, the impact was significant. A small sticker with the Glossier Instagram handle on each rose also led to sharing and engagement on social media.
It can pay to collaborate too, as mattress start-up Casper learnt when they partnered with Standard hotels to offer cheap deals on last-minute rooms before the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Every room was fitted with a Casper mattress and included additional (and social media-shareable!) extras, such as the chance to be read a bedtime story by a stand-in ‘mum’.
Most importantly, the point is to learn, not to earn! The success of an experience marketing concept isn’t about how much stock you shift, it’s about educating yourself about your customer’s likes, dislikes and how to earn their loyalty.
In its fourth year, 29Rooms instigated a ticketing program for the first time to cut back on waiting times for visitors. They’re also exploring controversial themes, such as politics. A partnership with the Women’s March last year allowed visitors to send postcards to representatives in American Congress.
“We weren’t sure if the guests would take the time, but we wanted to try,” says Piera. “It turned out that we sent over 6000 postcards from our guests. And we heard our audience say, ‘Wow, that was actually cathartic. I want to do that more often!’”
Ultimately, experience marketing is about connecting with your audience in a way that invites them on a journey of exploration and discovery. As Piera says, “By being generous to your audience and creating a platform for them to engage with, you make space for guests to share your message organically.”
Marketing strategist Steph Barr worked on the award-winning Melbourne International Film Festival campaign, The Emotion Simulator, which let movie-watchers ‘feel’ a film before they saw it by electro-stimulating their facial expressions. Here, she shares her concept checklist:
Is it relevant?
If your goal is to create buzz, experience campaigns are great. They’re also good, if you have a site-specific product or want people to trial a new launch en-masse and see how it stimulates a crowd.
Is it necessary?
You need to ask yourself if the same reaction could be achieved through any other medium. Or would an experience enhance understanding, advocacy and connection? When a concept is hard to explain, it can be helpful to leverage touch and smell in addition to sight and sound.
What’s the pay-off?
How can you drive advocacy, or create leads and conversions for your product? Can you develop an easy and enjoyable sign-up process and reward for participation?
Is it shareable?
What additions, such as vouchers, photo booths or pictures, can you include to help people share the experience on social media and with their friends or family?
Was it successful?
On the day, ask people for feedback with fun, quick questionnaires. Give prizes as a thank-you for their time. Know your aims from the start so you can see whether an activation is a cost-effective marketing plan.