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innocent_unplugged_anti_tech_music_festival_thumb800jonny-profile-webExperiential marketing has grown up and brands are now integrating it into their campaigns with gusto, writes Jonny Davis.

This is the most exciting time to work in experiential marketing. The industry has finally come of age. We are through those difficult teen years of not really knowing who we are or where we fit in. We have grown up. We are sitting at the strategic table. We are confident in what we can deliver. And, we can have finally got around to measuring the success points too, says Jonny Davis.

I won’t jump on the traditional “advertising is dead” bandwagon. You already know that traditional methods alone won’t deliver expected results. Consumers are using ad blockers or avoiding TV ads if they can. We need to break through the single touch point media cycle. We want to stop pestering consumers and create experiences that consumers will queue up to participate in. We want to make the experience as personal as possible so that consumers can enjoy the moment and amplify the experience through social media sharing. The personalisation here is key. Consumers don’t want to be caught sharing the same thing as everyone else.

Make it easy for consumers to share the content. Ensure you have a dedicated photographer and videographer on site. Use the content to retarget consumers. It sounds simple but it makes a huge difference to the results.

Innocent Drinks, for example, has embraced experiential marketing right from the get go. It continues to be a pioneer by creating ‘Innocent Unplugged’, a festival in the woods in Kent for grown ups who want to disconnect from technology. It’s a weekend for real people to turn off their phones, get out into nature and have proper conversations while listening to great music. See you there!

It’s about real life. It’s about touching and feeling. We spend too much time staring at screens. We send messages instead of calling. When we are given the opportunity to properly engage in an experience we jump at the chance. I say we because consumers actually sounds too sterile in this case. Let’s not be afraid to create an experience that scares us a little. It can be the brave choice. It was certainly brave of Samsung to open its flagship retail store, Samsung 837, in New York without an emphasis on purchase. It’s described as a living lab and digital playground.

“At Samsung, we have a proven track record of innovation, and with Samsung 837, we are creating the flagship of the future,” said Zach Overton, Vice President and General Manager of Samsung 837.  “Reimagining the traditional store experience, 837 is a fully immersive cultural center, featuring programming which will tap into people’s passions such art, music, entertainment, sports, wellness, culinary, technology and fashion, all powered and enriched by technology.”

A store that doesn’t sell is a scary thought but what about a store that offers an experience so strong that it creates advocates. It creates fans that want to share and brag about what they have experienced.

The challenge for us in the industry is to start creating experiences that consumers will queue for. That they will pay for. We need to think bigger and create better. We need to make better use of the space around us to deliver experiences that are truly unique and will encourage sharing, advocacy and of course, purchase. If we think conservative we will most likely get conservative results. If we think big we can at the very least hope for big results. Let’s start looking for moonshots. Let’s look for 10x rather than 10%. 10x lights a fire and creates a sense that anything is possible. Google are the leaders in this space and Larry page summed it up with “If you are not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things”. We should celebrate the audacity of trying. The results will come in time.

Instead of reaching 100,000 people for 10 seconds we can reach 10,000 for 10 minutes. We can create a bond and if the experience is relevant our 10,000 people will share and influence the wider network. Live experiences create positive feelings making it much easier to tap into the word of mouth and sharing world. Let’s be brave and challenge our traditional metrics.

It genuinely is an exciting time. Experiential marketing has grown up. The real trick will be to grow up without growing old.

Jonny Davis is founder of Imagine.

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First published in Irish Marketing Journal (July 2016)© to order back issues please call 016611660