scalability of experiential marketing

Scalable experiential marketing strategies provide brands a creative, engaging solution to generate revenue, drive loyalty and reset perceptions. Scalability is one thing we love about experiential marketing.

It’s sorta like the scalability you have in your yoga pants after eating a full Thanksgiving feast. And then, of course, going for the pumpkin pie to get that last bit of satisfaction. You always want a little wiggle room.

A good experiential marketing campaign is designed with scale in mind. It’s in the early planning and ideation stages when you should evaluate how the overall activation can be scaled up or down.

Scale up to either reach more people, enter new markets or incorporate more interactive engagements.

Scale down to cut costs, simplify the experience or hone in on one objective, not many.

At the heart of experiential marketing is the concept of quality interactions. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to sacrifice large-scale impressions entirely. Experiential marketing integrates well with your traditional media plans. There are several key benefits to launching a brand experience. And when the brand experience accomplishes your goals (why wouldn’t it?) in one area, you can stretch its value into other areas.

That’s what experiential marketing and yoga pants have in common, after all.

Brand experiences come in all sizes! You can invest a little, a little more or a lot, based on your unique goals and aspirations. Sometimes, brands want to test the water. You can start small to get your toes wet, and then, when the brand experience is well-planned, it’s easy to expand for more scale.

You can go big with a cross-country mobile tour, like No Kid Hungry did to promote their Dine Out for No Kid Hungry program. Or you can go small with a fun weekend promotion in one key market, like Experience Olympia & Beyond did in Portland.

Here are ten ways to increase reach, gain scale and leave room for flexibility in your activation.

Some brand activations demand a permanent installation at one high-traffic location. But one easy way to add scale to your experiential marketing activation is by making it mobile. This can really be achieved in a variety of ways, from mobile tours to a traveling pop-up shop.

Most brands want us to create specialized experiences that put them in the right location at the right time to share an interactive moment with their key consumer. (Right, right, right.) In order to do this, you must find those moments where someone is most open to engaging with you. This match-making philosophy drives our ability to find your right audience where the impact will be most meaningful to them. Not always, but sometimes it’s beneficial to be able to move the experience around. This often allows us to reach more qualified impressions and scale our engagements among the most appealing audience.

With large-scale guerrilla marketing campaigns, our brand ambassador teams can be quite mobile and on-the-go to intersect the audience in the best locations. This can be one market or many at the same time or in tour style. They are often on foot or have very easy means of moving throughout a market. We can rely on branded Segways, sampling bikes, electric shuttles, etc., to help our teams be the most mobile.

When you add larger experiential vehicles to the mix, it’s cost-effective to create a mobile tour to cover many locations. We talk about vehicle selection as one of our 11 Tips for a Successful Mobile Tour. The vehicle needs to provide all the right functionality while communicating your brand message effectively during the activation. The mobile tour can simply be across the county – or across the country.

Think about the key locations that will provide the best spots for engagement. How will you get there? When you design your brand experience with move-ability in mind, you can roll it from one location or market to the next. You can choose to add markets easily.

Even activations that are installation-based can be mobile. Think about how easy it is to set up and tear down quickly, so it, too, can move should your objectives evolve throughout the campaign. Can the build be done off-site and then moved onto site? Or is the experience production something that can be done multiple times in various locations?

Mobility is one way to achieve a scalable experiential marketing campaign.

At the root of scalability is designing for growth. This, too, can take on a variety of meanings:

  • Growth in number of daily or overall interactions taking place
  • Growth in number of interactive stations that can be added to the experience
  • Growth in number of people an experience can accommodate at any given time
  • Growth in number of live events, tour stops or market activations
  • Growth in number of staff or media formats needed
  • Growth in number of samples or giveaways required
  • Growth in terms of integration with other marketing software or marketing tech
  • Growth in business departments or territories needing support from the experience
  • Growth in flight length or experiential timing
  • Growth in customers or accounts you need to continue to offer experiences to in the future

When you identify in advance those areas of growth at the beginning, you can prepare to accommodate them at some point in the future. You may also need to create growth plans to accommodate such variables. To accomplish scalable experiential marketing, you must plan and design for growth.

Once you have an experiential concept, consider how easily that idea would be to replicate. For example, if it is a trade show experience, can you replicate it at every trade show your company attends this year? Perhaps it is a pop-up shop that works really well in New York, so you want to replicate it in Los Angeles, too. Maybe it’s a sampling initiative that your regional marketing teams need to be able to replicate in each territory.

For example, after the success of the Budweiser Beer Garage activation at SXSW in 2016, the team decided to replicate the pop-up bar in New York, Los Angeles and London. An activation can spur such great response rates that replication gives it new life.

Some live events, such as a surprising PR stunt that gains virality due to its one-off nature, aren’t designed for replication. But when you want to bring the experience to new audiences, making sure the concept is easy to replicate helps in your scalable experiential marketing efforts.

Brand experiences are, in our opinion, the best way to share your story. But other media can amplify the reach or remind participants after the experience ends. Working together, the media reinforces the experience. We champion integrative approaches that touch the key audience in multiple channels.

One such way to scale your storytelling is through mobile display advertising. You can use digital media to promote your experience beforehand. Or to re-engage attendees after they walk away from your event.

For example, Experience Olympia and Beyond leveraged display advertising in Portland. We served ads to three audience segments. The first, our target audience of females 31+ who like handmade products, craft beer, wine and/or coffee. The second, we served ads to people within the same event geofences as we were activating. The last, we collected device IDs of those who were within close proximity to our mobile barista stations for retargeting. We achieved a strong overall 0.80% click-through-rate, directing more people to the campaign’s online landing page.

Just like pumpkin pie and whipped creme, experiential marketing and social media go together deliciously.

EventTrack recently reported that 98% of people create content at branded experiences, and 100% of those people share the content. When you integrate your experiential marketing campaigns with social media, you naturally create more scale. These impressions may not be of equal quality as someone walking through the experience himself, but social media allows you to scale for greater impressions overall.

When designing an Instagrammable brand experience, examine these features:

  • Visual design – how can you design the space so people want to capture your experience in images?
  • Branding – how can you incorporate your brand subtly throughout the experience, so it’s captured accordingly in participant’s photos?
  • Sharing – how will you encourage and motivate participants to share the experience socially?
  • Engagement – how will you leverage influencers and your social media community managers during the experiential campaign?
  • Measurement – how will you measure the social impact?

A social experience generates earned media that extends outside the event footprint. With social media, your experiential marketing campaign can touch and motivate a wider audience.

Add scale to your experiential marketing campaign by extending the brand experience to other touch points. For example, if you are a retailer or CPG brand, can you offer an in-store experience? Or perhaps you’ve got a large email list and you want to send a 360-video of the experience to those not nearby. Maybe your VR experience can be integrated into your product packaging for each new customer via NFC.

When you think about the touch points someone has with your brand – from advertising to purchase to reordering – you can start to shape their experience across the board. How can the elements of your brand experience be repurposed at these other touch points?

Building a scalable experiential marketing strategy requires thought at every touch point, not just the one-time event.

When all of your marketing systems are working together, scalability is more successfully achieved. Centralizing your data makes scale easier.

Think about all the martech your marketing team uses, such as:

  • Audience and customer relationship management
  • Email and brand-owned app notification delivery
  • Social media monitoring, listening and publishing tools (including live streaming)
  • Sentiment measurement tools
  • Account-based marketing platforms
  • Lead generation and data collection tools
  • PR and media platforms
  • E-commerce promotional code or coupon redemption tracking software
  • Customer lifetime value and accounting software
  • Event registration software
  • Programmatic media buying solutions

Now think about how you can leverage those tools to scale your brand experience. And how much simpler it would be if they were all integrated seamlessly together!? Reduce the number of systems your marketing team is using to better deliver a connected experience. At every touch point (see #4) and to increase your reach. Brand experiences micro-target a niche audience to participate…but with the right data integration, you can reach the masses.

When the data collection from your experience ties directly into your existing marketing databases (and vice versa), your data starts to offer actionable insights. Perhaps, the experience changes based on data you already have about the participant. So you’re scaling the experience based on the individual.

Data collection at your brand experience can also craft better marketing experiences in the future. For example, we can measure dwell time at certain interactive stations or provide analysis on the emotional state of attendees. When you know (and automatically feed the data back to your CRM) that this segment of event attendees preferred the thrill ride over the video kiosk, you can later scale personalization across all of your marketing. Or, if you learn that the the video testimonial booth was a hit among this segment, you can be sure to customize their future brand experiences or content wisely.

Ahhh, content. One surefire way to launch a scalable experiential marketing campaign is to use that brand experience to fuel your content factory. The content produces scale…and producing the content at one experience may even save you money. The ROI increases if you’re using the experience for a greater (marketing) good.

Your brand experience may be the perfect setting for your next TV commercial, or give you ample time to interview staff and customers for a video series. Maybe an on-site photographer can capture great shots that will be turned into print ads, billboard art or social media memes. The content you generate may far exceed the flight of your experiential marketing campaign.

An effective brand partnership can offer a solution for your scalable experiential marketing. Choosing a partner – or a charity – to collaborate with on the experience can connect you to a larger audience. Select the brand partner carefully, so that the scale you gain meets your objectives.

Brand partnerships lend themselves to cross-promotional opportunities. You’re also able to leverage each other’s resources, including social reach and influencers. One collaboration may open up future opportunities, too.

Clearly, I love pie. (Especially pumpkin pie.) Sure it’s a creamy blend of sugar and spice, but that’s not the only reason I love it. Dessert extends mealtime beyond the meat and potatoes. It’s that final hurrah.

Plan how you can extend the brand experience – after the experience. Perhaps you collect email addresses of attendees, so you can send them all an interactive series of digital content after they leave the event. Or maybe you send some swag post-campaign for more surprise and delight. Or maybe you invite them to, you guessed it, another experience.

One way brands serve dessert is through experiences that unlock more experiences. This helps to further cultivate your brand-to-consumer relationships. Physical or digital gamification allows the most engaged attendees to earn the most experience.

How can you keep the experience going and going and going….?

You might not plan to have the pie at the beginning of the meal. (Who am I kidding, I do.) But when dessert is served – you just can’t resist. You wear yoga pants to your family dinner as insurance for such an occasion. And you plan your experiential marketing campaigns with scale in mind. It just makes sense. Because, you know, everyone loves pie.

Whether the brand experience lives on or not, building it with scalability is important from the beginning. It gives your brand the flexibility it needs and offers extendable reach when you’re ready.

Let’s discuss how to scale your brand experience more over pie; say hello to schedule time to indulge.