A few years ago, I had the unique opportunity to see the late, great Maya Angelou speak. The experience was memorable and profoundly moving. It was so interesting that it personally captured my presence, and to my surprise, inspired new professional aspirations. That’s what’s cool about inspiration. It tends to strike at unlikely moments. It surprises us. It captures our attention. It dares us. And for me it sparked insights that would later lead to inspiring people through live experiences. This is one entrepreneur’s story about inspired experiences that blur the line between art and commerce.
Make Heroes Matter
People need something to remember. They need stories to tell. Instead of sending them through an online maze, give them something to talk about. Experiential marketing is one of the best ways to create a unique, face-to-face experience with a brand. It’s not like digitally sending a passive message to your audience. It’s creating the opportunity to make an audience feel your brand by interacting with it in person. That’s what made Splash so badass (and why over 200 companies from startups to Facebook use it for their experiential marketing activations during SXSW).
What about the rest of digital marketing? Well, it comes down to the right execution on the right platform at the right time. Without all three it’s just another face in the crowd. People skip over what’s unremarkable. Seriously, why pay attention to anything not worthy of making a remark about? So how do you cut through the 3,000+ marketing messages people ignore every day online? Give them a feeling that digital can carry. Yes, clearly digital marketing still plays its part nowadays, but it’s largely a supporting role. Today’s most effective digital marketing focuses on the distribution of human impact – especially via video.
Engage to Execute
Key here is to not miss the forest for the trees. Remember that what’s effective in today’s marketing landscape (and arguably for all of human history) is organic expression from one person to another. Hence the power of social sharing – be it one-to-one word of mouth, or as Erik Qualman would differentiate about online media, one-to-world word of mouth. Even Digital Marketer expresses the fundamental essentials of being h-to-h or human to human. All this to say that in the realm of experiential marketing, digital is a conduit to and a carrier of memorable messages. It ensures that the expressions emotional engagement are exponentially shared online beyond the experience’s activation.
Let’s take a look at a few campaigns that have moved people to action. If you’re a nerd that just wants statistics, scroll to the bottom.
Love Has No Labels
The Ad Council has been around since the 1940’s when America needed to unite people at home to build for the war. Rosie the Riveter is the icon most people remember. In 2017 instead of fighting Nazis the Ad Council fights discrimination. Regardless of your personal beliefs, The Love Has No Labels campaign is brilliant in its simplicity. A stage was in the middle of a public square. People could walk behind, displaying to the crowd in front only their skeletal structure. When those behind the stage came around the stage it showed their diversity while reinforcing that regardless of age, gender, religion, race, mental or physical disability we’re all human. The goal was to disrupt the limiting beliefs that labels put on people. Some of the more surprising attendees were filmed and that video distributed on YouTube. Shortly after its release the video had over 86 million views and was picked up by more than 100+ news outlets.
Lyft recruited a bunch of sport influencers, disguised them, hid undercover cameras in the cars, and had them drive around riders. The campaign was fun, hilarious, and collectively the series has racked up over 100+ million views. My favorite is Shaquille O’Neal undercover:
Dove Real Beauty Sketches
We can all be critical of ourselves, but often especially when it comes to beauty in our culture. Dove’s message was that “you’re more beautiful than you think.” Participants were selected to have their sketch done twice. One sketch was done from a description of what other people saw about the person, the other was what people described about themselves.
It’s become one of Dove’s most famous films, racking up over 67 million views and shared across all mediums.
2017 Experiential Marketing Stats
1. 74% of event attendees say that they have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product or service being promoted after the event. (EMI & Mosaic)
2. 65% of the consumers surveyed said live events helped them have a better understanding of a product or service, vastly surpassing digital efforts and TV advertising as methods of recognizing and learning about a brand. (EventTrack)
3. 65% of brands say that their event and experiential programs are directly related to sales. (EMI & Mosaic)
4. 70% of users become regular customers after an experiential marketing event. (EventTrack)
5. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the event industry will grow by 44% from 2010 to 2020, exceeding most growth predictions for other industries. (US Bureau of Labor)
6. According to 80% of attendants, live demonstrations and free samples significantly help define their purchasing decision. (EventTrack)
7. 75% of companies with event budgets between $50-100 million say they expect an ROI of more than 5:1 for live event and experiential programs. (EMI & Mosaic)
8. 98% of users feel more inclined to purchase after attending an activation. (EventTrack)
10. 79% of US marketers generate sales using event marketing. (Statista)
11. About 34% of consumers surveyed said they would make a post about an experience on their social media pages. (EventTrack)
12. 33% of consumers from the above survey said they would take photos or videos during an event. (EventTrack)
13. 79% of brands say they will execute more event and experiential programs this year compared to last year. (EMI & Mosaic)
14. A staggering 11% of brands don’t seem to use social media to complement their in-person efforts. (EventTrack)
15. Over 86% of event marketers said attendee satisfaction is their best gauge on event success. (Guidebook)
16. 77% of marketers use experiential marketing as a vital part of a brand’s advertising strategies. (EventTrack)
17. Event technology can help increase event attendance by 20%, increase productivity by 27%, and decrease costs by 20-30%. (Enterprise Event Marketing)