Marketers seek emotional, personal connections with their audiences. You want to personify your brand and be remembered in a specific way. Thus, a growing trend in the marketing industry is multi-sensory marketing: using the senses to create a deeper experience for the consumer. Sensory marketing engages a person’s five physical senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.
Multi-sensory marketing should be regarded at every buyer stage: brand awareness, product promotion, consideration, trial, purchase and post-purchase. This applies whether you’re a B2C or B2B, product or service, tactile or intangible brand. Thinking about the sensory effects your brand, messaging, products and consumer experiences have on your key audiences is very important.
One way we engage the five physical senses is through experiential marketing, a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites them to participate in a brand experience. Sometimes called live event marketing or experience marketing, advertisers rely on the physical senses to immerse a consumer into a story using various media or happenings.
Activating senses causes emotional, behavioral and cognitive responses. Our understanding of the world and our environment is experienced through senses. Each of the five senses has its own way of impacting the way people process what is in front of them (including brands). When you can provoke natural reactions from your audience based on their senses, you’re able to breakthrough in new ways.
A balanced media mix needs to have elements that can’t be ignored. Brand experiences or live events enhance the overall marketing plan with immersive consumer involvement. They engage the five senses, which is a powerful way to engage with your audience.
Experiential marketing breaks out of the traditional advertising models. No other media channel can activate all five senses. (Tweet this!)
Experiences have always shaped us. You’ve probably had experiences in your life that led you into your marketing career. Experiences have shaped your political views, or how you respond to a friend’s plea for help. Experiences impact us and influence us. Experiences can change our behavior. Experiences become ingrained into who we are and what we believe.
A consumer’s perception of your brand develops more fully over time. A brand is the sum of all of the interactions a person has with it. The ads they see, the content they consume, the shopping experience. Their combined experiences determine how they see you and how they feel about you. It’s important the brand remain consistent across all touch points to deliver a cohesive experience.
Often the more sensory contact there is, the more memorable traces a brand is going to leave. Through sensory engagement, a brand is more likely to form a bond with a consumer than relying on traditional means of advertising. Sensory experiences add brand stickiness. Experiential marketing often results in brand affinity, and brand love like that makes a marketer’s job much easier!
Investing in one brand activation may actually reduce future marketing costs. One brand activation can generate earned media and marketing content. Plus, when done well, experiential marketing moves one person through the entire sales funnel.
The only way to activate all five senses is by having an in-person, immersive experience for consumers. Eliciting more than the typical combination of sight and sound is important to add more dimension to an experience. Awakening one’s senses through experience also motivates action through both logic and emotion; the experience can be educational yet moving. Understanding how the senses relate to a consumer’s decision-making and buying behavior can produce strong results – and hook the consumer for years to come.
Multi-sensory marketing sets the mood and the tone for your brand. Think of how someone will experience your brand in a physical and emotional way, giving them a deeper and more personal connection to you.
Place your consumer into a story arc; make her the heroine. This transitions from the traditional brand storytelling marketers regularly perform into what we call “story doing.” Your audience isn’t in a listening state anymore, but now they’re active. And when all of the senses are engaged, the story becomes much more impactful. When you read a book or watch a movie, you experience the emotions of the characters, right? Brands who can put the customer into the story as the protagonist can give an experience even more powerful than telling a story.
Like the old adage goes, when you involve me, I learn.
Design your brand experiences around a three-act structure in order to capitalize on the way your audience’s brain is naturally firing. Consider how your protagonist will be introduced to the experience. Build the story with rising action to climax. Finally, reveal the resolution. Story arc design creates emotional responses, where all five physical senses are working in conjunction with the brand’s messaging. To be a character within the brand story engages someone in the most personal of ways.
BEWARE! Don’t sensory overload! Bombarding the consumer with too much can create confusion. Overwhelming scents paired with bright lights and loud noises can turn consumers away from the brand completely. That’s not the reaction you want to induce. Use your judgment (and test groups) to determine if you’re balancing the senses in an effective way. Sensory overload can have a negative effect on your brand.
Multi-sensory marketing should enhance a customer’s experience, not overwhelm them. (Tweet this!)
An effectively successful brand experience doesn’t just activate physical senses. It heightens the 6th sense, which allows your audience to have a new keen understanding or perception of your brand.
In addition to better audience understanding, there are many benefits of experiential marketing. It can address many objectives, churn brand loyalty and impact the bottom line.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we create memorable multi-sensory marketing campaigns, please request a meeting. We’re happy to discuss how sensory experiences can impact your brand.