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Experiential Marketing

Experiential Marketing Works! But can you prove it?

Experiential Marketing Works! But can you prove it?

You did it! The absolutely perfect experiential marketing opportunity finally came up, and you got to take your brand on the road with the ultimate live brand experience. You had a custom Airstream trailer, a shipping container pop-up shop, a living floral wall, the perfect Snapchat filter, and a vinyl-loving DJ. The pics are gorgeous, and everyone you know says that you crushed it. 

But now it’s last week's memory, you’re back in the office, and it is time to face the music. The powers-that-be want to know, quantitatively, how the brand activation actually affected their business. What do you say? What do you do? You start frantically pulling together the daily recaps to show some kind of results, but the total attendance and number of free giveaways that you tracked don't seem to be enough information. 

Unfortunately, there are no magic wands or time machines. We can't fix what we forgot to track, but we can have a fail-safe performance measurement plan, moving forward.

The basic event metrics that are usually tracked, (Impressions, Event Attendance, Foot Traffic, Samples Distributed, and Leads,) should be your starting points. Beyond those, what are your brand-specific KPIs? What are your brand’s business and marketing goals? How does experiential marketing help to achieve them? Here are a few as examples, but every category and industry has its own.

  • Brand Lift - Conduct a short pre and post-event survey of event attendees to measure how their perceptions of the brand were affected by the event activation.

  • Engagement -  How many actual people interacted with your brand experience? What should qualify as a brand-specific engagement for this event?  What percent of total event attendees actually engaged with the brand?

  • Social Media - Make sure your Insta-worthy Airstream and floral wall are picture perfect, and encourage visitors to share. Create a short, memorable, and brand unique hashtag for your visitors to use when sharing their event experience on social media.

  • Cost Efficiencies - Take the total cost of the activation, from sponsorship, to display assets, to staff, time and travel, and calculate your CPE (cost per engagement), CPL (Cost per Lead), and ROI (Return on Investment)

  • Purchases (CPP: Cost per Purchase onsite) - How important is driving sales at the actual event to your brand’s stakeholders? Make sure you have reasonable projections of sales before the event.

  • Media - How much exposure did your brand get, from involvement in the event, and what is the value of that exposure? 

If you plot out all of your key performance metrics ahead of time, get buy-in from the brand stakeholders, and project your results before event set-up ever happens, you’ll be better prepared to achieve greatness. And once the event has wrapped, your KPIs are reported and exceed projections, you will be be championed as the experiential marketing visionary you truly are.

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Why Experiential Marketing Estimates Are Confusing and What To Do About It.

Why Experiential Marketing Estimates Are Confusing and What To Do About It.

Experiential marketing programs can range from the small and scrappy to the large and lavish. But how much does a program cost? This is a common question where the answer is rarely clear cut. Estimates are like snowflakes, no two are alike. This is because there are many different elements to consider, methods to execute, ways to cut corners and a wide range of details that impact the bottom line.

Unfortunately estimates and budgets are often defined very early in the process, well before many granular aspects of the project are all worked out. With experiential marketing, these details can have a wide and variable range of costs.

For example, sponsorship fees for a traveling roadshow could range from $500 to $15,000 or more per venue. It’s the difference between a small community outreach event and booth space inside a high-traffic mall. If the type of venue or markets haven’t been selected in advance, budgeting for site fees can be difficult.

In many respects, experiential marketing is comparable to home remodeling. A bathroom remodel needs to be accurately estimated and approved by the homeowner well before the first hammer is swung.  Certain items will vary in price and will not be finalized until later in the project.

bathroom cat

Like tile. While the labor to install tile should be fairly consistent, the cost of the tile itself can be all over the board. Choices range from remnants in the clearance bin to imported Italian marble. Final material selection won’t happen until later in the project, when the homeowner and contractor spend time reviewing and discussing various tile options together. But the contractor still needs to budget for tile in their estimate.

A great way to create estimates for projects with variable costs is by using allowances. This is a placeholder amount for items that haven’t been selected yet, in order to arrive at a baseline cost for the entire project. With tile, the contractor might consider the overall scope of the project and recommend how much to spend on materials that reflect the goals of the remodel. A light makeover project might have a lower tile allowance than a luxury bath overhaul.

Here’s how allowances can help:

  • Establish cost expectations for items before they are selected
  • Bring flexibility to the overall budget
  • Encourage collaboration and communication to make informed decisions
  • Clients have greater financial and creative involvement, because it’s ultimately up to them on how the allowance is spent

The same approach can be applied to experiential marketing budgets. When estimating the cost of a food truck program, many of the variable expenses are in the modifications to the truck itself. For example, what kitchen equipment does a food truck need?

If the truck is preparing hot gourmet meals, the allowance might need to cover a variety of high-end kitchen equipment. If the truck is sampling pre-packaged cold beverages, the allowance may only need to cover an ice chest or two.

General equipment needs can be determined up front with some understanding of what the truck will be doing. Equipment selection likely won’t happen until after the project is approved, and could require additional collaboration to ensure the most appropriate equipment is selected. This is where an allowance can really help.

Of course, allowances are eventually replaced by actual hard numbers. But in the short term, they can help clarify how much a program would cost and provide a starting point for budget planning.

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Branded Experiences for Millennials: The New Planning Trinity

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Branded Experiences for Millennials: The New Planning Trinity

We have survived an entire decade of marketing research articles, studies, and infographics about the Millennial generation. We know that Millennials are a massive group numbering around 83 million in the US alone, and while they have tremendous spending power, there is a fundamental difference from previous generations in how and why they spend their hard earned dollars.

At its core, this generation values products, services and experiences that are unique, fast and simple.

The New York Times recently published an article citing research that Millennials aren’t eating cereal anymore, perhaps because it’s too much work. But rather than assuming this group is lazy, consider that cereal in itself is no longer considered unique, fast or simple. New breakfast options are on the rise that offer these traits, perceived or real.

The funny thing about cereal is that it has already been positioned as unique, fast and simple. But consider that it also takes time to prepare, eat and cleanup. Today, breakfast is much faster and easier when prepackaged and consumed on the go.

The cereal situation is a great example of how the old perceptions of unique, simple and fast are evolving from function to benefit; with an increased focus on opportunities gained in the moment. Millennials are constantly questioning the value in a product or activity, measuring  how it affects them right now, and what they have to do to get it.

To that end, they seek out products, services and experiences that feel exclusive, are incredibly easy to use, and maximize their time investment (shorter or longer). Branded experiences are no different. The most successful campaigns are designed around these values:

  1. Exclusivity: Attract attention by offering an authentic opportunity the consumer can’t find anywhere else, to create a unique memory.
  2. Interactivity: Engage with quick activities that are respectful of time and energy.
  3. Accessibility: Make participation intuitive, so that the experience can be self-guided, via individual discovery.

The lesson for experiential marketing is the same. What used to seem fun and engaging may no longer appear that way to a younger audience who has more options at their disposal. The most successful efforts today cater to these core Millennial values with exclusive experiences that are easy to participate in because the interactions are quick and easy.

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On the ground in SF for Super Bowl 50

On the ground in SF for Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl Sunday is the ultimate broadcast sporting event, and this year is expected to break records in ratings. A :30 second broadcast ad cost $5 million dollars this year. It is already THE most watched TV broadcast and the second largest day for food consumption in the US, after Thanksgiving. It drives interaction, engagement, and discussion for weeks prior and for weeks after the "Big Game." For marketers that invest in this annual event, millions of impressions and dollars are on the line. Integrated digital, social and life engagements are planned around this one day, and the live, brand engagement plans are slowly coming to life on the streets of San Fran right now. 

The NFL, with it's sponsor brands, invest millions of dollars to create fan experiences at this event, and these official events are sprawling across San Francisco starting this week. NFL sponsors Bud Light, Hyundai, Levi's, Pepsi and Verizon will be out in force, with plenty of support from brands like CNN, Food Network, Macy's, Nickelodeon, SAP and VISA. Here's a look at some of the festivities:  

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The simple secret to creating powerful live brand experiences

The simple secret to creating powerful live brand experiences

A truly amazing live brand experience is a thing of beauty, but unfortunately rare. We’ve all witnessed experiential marketing efforts that should have been great, but somehow fall short. Sometimes what sets the great events apart from the mediocre is obvious, but often it’s a little thing that you just can’t quite put your finger on.

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