Brands must ensure conversations continue long after their latest activation

Brands must ensure conversations continue long after their latest activation says Identity director

As Cyberville transforms businesses from selling products into selling experiences, the growth of experiential marketing will have a massive impact.

Ahead of his appearance at The Future of Marketing event on 22 November, The Drum spoke to Toby Havord, experiential account director at Identity on the future of experiential marketing.

Experiences are an integral part of any marketing campaign, but what is the future of experiential marketing?

The experiential sector has grown year on year for a while now and this is down to two main factors. Firstly, the consumer is savvier in the way they spend their money and they want to know what they are getting for it. Secondly brands themselves are starting to invest a lot more of their budget into experiential because they see the benefit of making sure the consumer is happy and talking about their brand.

The future will be bigger, better and more memorable, and tangible. Which in turn will be a good thing for the consumer.

Brand experience executions have expanded from sampling into elaborate activations, with strategy playing a vital role. What are the key trends and best practices?

Short-term, mass sampling still has its positives to some degree, but I am not convinced it is a long-term strategy for a brand. Many moons ago I headed up a number of mass sampling campaigns, sending small pop-up units from one train station concourse to another. Even back then I would always ask the client what their message was to the consumer and what are they trying to achieve?

The problem will always be budget and how best to spend it. Take a yoghurt brand for example, we have a certain budget to target a certain number of consumers ensuring we get the brands important message and ethos across. Now do we go for the mass sampling and target 500k consumers across the UK or do we put on smaller more intimate activations where we can talk to the exact target audience and leave them feeling rather chuffed they were part of an amazing experience?

‘Data capture’ is a phrase I’m not a fan of. It sounds slightly grubby and almost too personal. But we need to know about the consumer, we want them to know we know and most importantly we want them to be happy that we are openly discussing with them the latest trends that they are interested in. I’d like to think that the more forward-thinking agencies and brands are approaching activations with a view to working with each consumer personally for years to come. Yes,we now have social media to “talk” to the consumer but are they actually listening?

Communication works both ways and brands must ensure it continues long after their latest amazing activation.

The biggest drawback with brand experience was its inability to scale. So how do you amplify experiential marketing?

Digital has to be one of the main reasons why it used to be hard to scale up. Now we can put on an amazing intimate event that may only have 200 in attendance but it is being followed by many, many more across social platforms.

Mixing the correct measure of digital with the ‘old school’ (that’s still ok) marketing practices is crucial to getting the perfect consumer loyalty cocktail. The marketing world went crazy about VR claiming it would revolutionise experiential. Well it hasn't. And us old heads knew it wouldn't because things like VR/AI need to be used in the right way. Sometimes not all. It still goes back to asking the client / brand what is your message and what do you want to achieve? (also, what is your budget).

Identity are sponsors of the Future of Marketing in which Havord will be attending. on 22 November, as part of the Out of Home and Experiential Marketing panel. This event is designed to help you weather the storm and survive the fourth industrial revolution by giving you actionable insights from our amazing line up of speakers.

Tickets for the event are currently on sale at 50% off until Thursday November 1.

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