An ‘experience’ has much more impact than an ‘exposure.’ – Brian Martin, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Project: WorldWide

In the advertising world, things move fast. Clients have short turn-around deadlines, and your day as a media planner is packed full with meeting after meeting. When you know that X number of TV spots, radio segments, print ads and out-of-home buys work well together, and your client’s digital agency can take care of the hashtag thing, it can be easy to get, well, complacent. Planning and buying media becomes a thoughtless habit, and you resort back to the media formats you love best.

But being in the high-energy ad world, you know there’s no room for complacency.

Or empty coffee pots.

There’s a new buzzword in the industry: experiential marketing. You get the idea: advertisers create experiences that a consumer can see, touch, feel and relate to in the physical world that tie back irrevocably to the brand. You even know the benefits: shoppers are experience-loyal and appreciate a brand who can demonstrate relevancy in their everyday life without being too ‘salesy’. After all, one consumer may see as many as 5,000 ads in one day, and experiential helps to cut through that clutter in a more personal, memorable way. But how do you introduce this form of advertising to a client who has never approached marketing so hands-on before?

media planners share new ideasIt is your job to bring fresh, effective advertising ideas and opportunities to the table at the planning stage.

Research. Find out who’s doing experiential in the client’s industry, what types of campaigns are happening and which experiential marketing firms are partnering with other similar players in the field. Look through case studies and campaign metrics, and gather up a nice portfolio of successes from across the industry to present to the client.

Ask your client questions like, “How do you think a consumer experiences your brand?” and “How valuable is a brand-to-consumer interaction to you?” Or, “What is the lifetime value of one experience-loyal customer?” and “How would a target consumer describe your brand’s experiences?”

Weigh out the pros (personal connections, branded yet organic social media content, news worthy press opportunities) and the cons (longer planning stages, variable costs) in a very transparent, honest conversation. Reassure them that even if experiential marketing is a new concept to them, many successful companies have been planning experiences very effectively for years now, even centuries.

According to a recent Bdaily article, “Marketing experts Pearlfinders have recently revealed that an increasingly high number of companies are boosting their use of experiential activation techniques within their marketing campaigns.” The article continues, “This was shown with a 54% increase in experiential activities from last year based on an analysis of yearly interviews with 10,000 marketing budget holders from across Europe, the UK, USA and Asia, conducted in Pearlfinders Global Index.”

It’s also important to point out that there are a variety of types of experiential marketing, many of which are scalable to a small introductory effort or to a large, full-blown production. For starters, maybe suggest that just 5% of an advertiser’s media plan be allocated to experiential. After you can measure and evaluate how the first small campaign goes, it will help you plan a larger, more elaborate experiential campaign in the future.

You may want to plan on taking your client to participate in another brand’s experience or creating one of your own, to elicit a reaction from them that speaks louder than you saying, “I think this might work.” If they understand that an experience really can trigger that motivation to buy personally, they’ll understand how they can re-define the way people think about their own brand.

Experiential does work, because it stimulates the neural decision-making region of your buyers’ minds through rational and emotional cues. By using the combination of science, statistics, examples – and even experiences – to help sell your new idea, you will have no problem convincing a client to consider an experiential campaign for the first time.

And when the campaign’s a hot success, you’ll be getting all the credit.