Every Tuesday we think some thinks and round up some top tips.
When E-commerce sales soared in the first lockdown, we looked at the shuttered highstreets and wondered, what will they look like in a year’s time? Will they even exist at all? Analysts insisted we were witnessing a shift in the status quo. Everyone had already been moving online for years – Covid was merely accelerating the physical world’s inevitable demise.
Well, a year on, it looks like consumers in the UK haven’t got the memo. Yesterday, non-essential retail, pubs and restaurants all opened their doors for the first time in 2021. Other than the hairdressers and pubs, you’d think this would be met with a shrug. Who needs Zara and Nandos, when we can order more loungewear from Amazon and reward ourselves for our Zoom workouts with a Deliveroo Chinese?
But everyone I know is genuinely excited to hit the gym, stroll the highstreets, grab a coffee, try things on, pick up books and put them down again. As I write, crowds are queuing in huge numbers along Oxford Street. They could order everything they need online in seconds, yet there they are, standing patiently in the cold.
So, is this talk of the ‘new normal’ a bit exaggerated? Clearly our desire for tangible, physical experiences isn’t a passing trend, it’s human nature. That’s why, in the coming months, I think smart marketing departments will capitalise on the bottled-up enthusiasm to do things IRL again. 74% of people who engage with experiential marketing say they have a more positive opinion about the brand or promoted product after the event, which is far more impactful than an online banner ad. By thinking outside the (electronic) box, and investing in physical marketing that engages the senses, brands can make a real emotional impact when lockdown’s over for good.
Here are my top tips for doing it right:
1. Put fun above fitting
When planning experiential marketing, it’s easy to think too hard about how it can closely relate to your brand or the products you’re launching. But if you want to create something memorable this shouldn’t be your focus. One of my favourite classic activations from Volkswagen doesn’t have a car in sight. But by putting the audience experience first, they developed a powerful, emotional brand association: “fun can change behaviour for the better.”
2. Collaborate and get creative
Leveraging other brands’ experience and resources is a great way to communicate with your audience in unexpected ways. Brands as wildly different as Dunkin Donuts and Dyson partnered with Refinery29 to put on shows in its weird and wonderful experiential rooms. Delta Airlines launched a film and food festival with Vice, allowing it to connect with a younger audience (and borrow some hipster credentials in the process).Think about brands you can spark with (even those in unlikely industries!) and you’ll be able to both widen and deepen audience connections.
3. Go big or they’ll go home
If there was ever a space for your weirdest ideas, it’s experiential marketing. Ideally, you want to create something that doesn’t just stop people in their tracks but makes them want to engage. How often does your audience speak about your marketing campaigns to friends and family?
Take the fully furnished climbing wall IKEA put together to celebrate a store opening in France. It’s this kind of off-the-wall thinking that gets people talking and leaves a lasting impression. That should be your ultimate goal.
If you need expert advice for your next campaign – experiential, digital, or somewhere in between – get in touch and let’s put your brand on the map!