• Why Experiential Should Be At the Heart of Business Strategy

    What do Cadillac, Old Spice, and Lego all have in common? They each have had to make a significant business decision that would change the future of their respective brands and put them back into the hearts and minds of consumers.

    The reality is, we not only live in an era of hyper-competitiveness, but also hyper-connectedness. When coupled together, a brand can be made or broken overnight. Uber, GoPro, and Snapchat seemingly became overnight sensations, while United saw its market capitalization plummet by $1.4 billion in the wake of the decision to remove a passenger from an overbooked flight.

    From food to fashion, business conditions are continuously evolving, necessitating brands to follow suit by shifting their strategy, whether it be by reaching a new consumer group or launching a new product. Going back to the Cadillac, Old Spice, and Lego examples, they’ve all resorted to experiential marketing to help forge their newfound narrative. As they’ve found, effectively reshaping customer expectations takes more than a television ad or Twitter hashtag.

    For most any business, that's a tall order. That’s why we explore several business challenges brands have faced and how they used experiential to tell their story.

    1. Market to a New Demographic

    The easy part of a pivot involves finding new customers. After identifying them, though, the real challenge of reaching them begins.

    That's where experiential marketing comes in. Because this form of marketing is built on personal connections, it allows brands to start conversations and foster real relationships – something no billboard or SEO strategy can do.

    Not to belabor the point, but reaching a new audience isn't easy. It requires in-depth research about the group's tastes, world views, and buying habits. That doesn't, however, make it impossible.

    We recently worked with footwear retailer Clarks, for example, to launch its Trigenic Flex shoe to urban Millennials. To reach these buyers, we brought the shoes to WeWork's co-working spaces, which are hotspots for young professionals. By interacting directly with its target market, Clarks refreshed its image with a notoriously difficult-to-win-over demographic.

    2. Educate on a Product Shift

    You want customers to get excited about your new product or service, right? Then show it off! Memorable experiences stick with customers far longer than a 30-second radio ad or television spot. Even better, you get instant feedback from them as they experience your new product or service.

    What does that look like in the wild? Jaguar recently wowed the car-buying kingdom with a public expo for its new vehicle, the F-TYPE. It told guests that they'd be sitting in the car, wearing a virtual reality helmet to simulate the experience of driving the vehicle. But the big cat car brand had a surprise in store: Instead of giving patrons a VR experience, it took them roaring around the racetrack with a professional driver! For everyone involved –  and for many that saw it secondhand on social media – the impromptu track day was an unforgettable experience.

    3. Build (and keep) your following.

    Remember Bebo? Friendster? Classmates.com? Chances are, you struggled to dredge those social media site names from the depths of your memory. Brands fade into oblivion everyday, and some are barely even remembered by their former customers.  Fortunately, experiential marketing can ensure your brand isn't forgotten. Take LEGO, for example. The toy company has been around since 1932, but it struggled in the '90s to create products that resonated with its core audience. It turned to experiential to not only remind customers that it's alive and well, but also to rebuild emotional connections with families.

    For instance, by joining forces with Batman, LEGO created Planet Crew. By joining the platform, kids and their parents can discuss environmental stewardship and swap ideas about raising socially responsible children. Today, LEGO is stronger than ever, due in no small part to its experiential marketing savvy.

    Building a business is hard, and building one that withstands the test of time is harder still. But with experiential marketing, pivoting toward tomorrow's area of opportunity becomes possible. After all, the best foundation for a brand that customers never forget is an experience they’ll never forget.