5 Things My 5-Year-Old Reminded Me About Experiential Marketing

My daughter is five and we have some fantastic conversations. The other day I was driving her home from school while she explained life through her eyes. As I listened to her perspective, I realized a unique parallel between effectively communicating with a child and planning successful experiential marketing campaigns. Here are a few tips:

1. Make concepts simple. Kids love to learn, but it’s easy to confuse them with complex answers. They need short, simple and relevant answers to make things make sense.

All too often we cram multiple brand messages, creative concepts, talking points and interactive elements into a single experiential effort. When this happens, the primary message gets lost in the clutter. When the experience doesn’t immediately make sense, people become confused and tune out.

Humans are simple creatures with short attention spans. Create accordingly.

2. Seeing is believing. Kids learn about the world through what they can touch and see. Senses provide truth. But you can reinforce a message or lesson with an awe inspiring magic trick.

The wow factor brings out the little kid in all of us. We want to be impressed and amazed … and we want to know how it happened. Activations that pique curiosity enjoy larger crowds, longer engagement and better post-event retention. Create experiences that will inspire awe to draw consumers in, then drive home the message with hands-on activities that brings the effort to life.

3. Stranger danger. My daughter a typical outgoing, happy go lucky preschooler. But introduce her to a new person, and she suddenly becomes very shy. We are all taught from a young age that strangers are scary people to be avoided. As adults, this mindset stays with many of us and can create social barriers.

Kids might be timid around grownups, but they quickly make new friends at the playground. The environment is relaxed, fun and encourages play. It’s a shared experience with their peers.

Apply this to experiential marketing. Create activations that are fun to participate in and provide platforms that connect people and promote sharing their experiences. Hire knowledgeable event staff that are approachable and relatable to consumers.

4. Bedtime comes early. No one likes putting down their toys to call it a night. Kids won’t go to bed on their own, but parents need to convince them otherwise. It could end in tears. However, if we strategically incorporate a bedtime routine into playtime, then the natural next step of going to bed becomes easier. In fact, they might just head off to bed with a smile on their face.

Convincing consumers to take action is the definition of activation. They came to the event, they played hard and had fun. Now we need them to take action. A direct request will probably be ignored. Plant the seed throughout the experience. That way, the action we need them to perform feels like a natural next step. Be strategic and creative in how to incorporate the desired action into the experience. And don’t forget, it never hurts to include incentives to sweeten the deal.


5. Limit Screen Time. TVs and tablets are intoxicating to children. My daughter is no exception. The problem is that when she is glued to a screen, she stops engaging with people around her. She may be engaged with technology, but her social skills grind to a complete halt. So we have to limit screen time.

Adults are also drawn towards digital screens and other interactive technologies like moths to a light bulb. Event tech attracts a lot of attention and increases engagement, it’s why we like to incorporate it into most experiential programs. But like kids, there’s a point when too much tech becomes a distraction. Remember to use technology as a tool to encourage conversation, but be mindful not to overdo it, or the conversation will be lost.

Being a five-year-old is amazing. Playtime, imagination and hands-on exploration are essential tools to discovering the world around them. But their world can also be an intimidating place, where it becomes easy to get frustrated and confused.

It is important to keep this in mind with kids as well as experiential marketing campaigns. We want consumers to have fun, learn something, try something and ultimately do something. When you start viewing the world through the eyes of a child, it becomes clear how much we adults tend to complicate things. Keep activations simple and engaging, easy to participate in and incorporate triggers that will naturally move consumers to action.

Department Zero