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Three tips to evolve your experiential strategy

Experience-based marketing is no longer an under the radar tactic that cutting edge brands do. It is an essential part of a successful integrated marketing campaign that all brands must engage in if they want to create an emotional connection with their target consumer.

Interactive event experiences – digital or analog – never stand still. Event technologies, evergreen activation trends, and social media integrations are constantly evolving in conjunction with pop culture trends and technology breakthroughs.

As we roll past the 2016 honeymoon grace period, here are three new media technologies, data triggers, and lifestyle trends that will help you create an unforgettable and emotionally charged consumer experience.

1. Building ‘content moments’ into events

Smart marketers have realized that consumer events are the ultimate catalyst for content creation and more importantly, distribution and social amplification. The smartest brands are now designing their event experiences with content generation top of mind.

Here’s how you can create and seed specific ‘content moments’ into your next experience.

  • Design with sharing in mind: Incorporate content generation and sharing into your overall experiential design approach.
     
  • Call out Instagram-friendly photo opps: Call out specific locations at your event that make great photo opportunities that will look good on social media.  You know what they say, 'Let me take a selfie'.
     
  • @, #, and remind consumers to share: This might sound simple or even silly but remind your consumers to share. And don’t forget to ask them to include your brand into their content moment.
     
  • Data visualization: Look at using data visualization as a way to encourage and incentivize content creation.

2. Virtual reality + experiential marketing = the new experience touchpoint.

It’s safe to say that 2016 is the year that virtual reality (VR) goes mainstream. Samsung’s placing a big bet on its Gear VR headset, Facebook's Oculus Rift will make its retail debut in April, HTC’s Vive is on track to follow shortly thereafter, and Sony's PlayStation VR should arrive sometime later this year. And let us not forget Google Cardboard, the unspoken juggernaut in the VR room with units available for under $20, and Microsoft’s HoloLens, which might feature the most advanced tech of the bunch.

Absolut Vodka has been one of the early adopters in this space leveraging VR to take live streaming to the next level. The brand recently hosted an intimate rooftop concert with Brooklyn dance act Bob Moses where GoPro cameras were used to create a live 360-degree virtual reality environment. Using Google Cardboard VR headsets in conjunction with a special Absolut Labs mobile app (that worked with or without a VR headset), consumers anywhere in the world could experience – live and in real time - what it felt like to be one of the 400 people in New York City on the night of the performance.

Experiential marketing presents the biggest opportunity for manufacturers to expose the technology to receptive consumers and for marketers to remain on the cutting edge of immersive brand experiences.

Experiential marketing and virtual reality has the opportunity to transform marketing in 2016 combining the experience-based emotional connections with limitless VR capabilities to create unique immersive opportunities.

3. On-demand 'Uber for events' experience

The on-demand experience, also known as the ‘Uber for X’ business model, is quickly becoming the consumer expectation across all industries. The event experience is no different.

Reebok is a great example of a brand that jumped on this trend early with its #ReebokHDS campaign. New Yorkers who tweeted their shoe size and address using the hashtag #ReebokHDS were entered to win a pair of the brand’s ZJet sneakers which were delivered on-demand by a team of runners and messengers in real time.

Uber itself saw the marketplace opportunity and late 2015 launched UberEVENTS, a group events service that allows event organizers the ability to pre-pay for rides for their guests.

Experiential-specific on-demand opportunities are limitless –

  • Real-time product requests via social media platforms
     
  • Contests and sweepstakes
     
  • On-demand commerce for new product launches and limited edition releases
     
  • Partnerships with existing on-demand services to leverage brand equity and infrastructures

Experiential can define your brand  

Experiential marketing, at its best, is a two-way conversation that works because it allows marketers the opportunity to use experience design to create personalized environments for consumers to participate in an activity that is compelling and inspiring. This infinitely unique proposition can, if used properly, create a lifelong connection that will define your brand.

Alex Frias is co-founder and president of Track Marketing Group. He tweets @iamalexfrias

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