Experiential Messaging: Less is More
There's a temptation to overload experiential activity with brand messages. The thinking is that a longer interaction means that consumers will be able to absorb more messages compared with more traditional media. Think again - delivery in an experiential setting should be about depth, not breadth.
Bear with me…
Madewithonlythebestingredientscompletelyorganicandnaturalonlyfourpercentfatpe rfectforbreakfastperfectasananytimetreatabrandyoucantrustweknowaboutmusicwe likewhatyouliketimededicatedtoyouisbetterformeissweetandtastybetterthantheres trichandflavourfulcanbeenjoyedaspartofabalancedandhealthylifestylespeciallyform ulatedtoprovideextraflavourasourceofvitaminclowinsugarperfectforthosewatchingth eirweightdevelopedbyexpertsinspiresmetobeactiverealingredientsfroreallifetheinfo rmationyouwantwhenyouwantitayouthfulbrandabrandintouchwithmeforpeoplelikeme
Now, stop reading and go away for an hour and do what you'd normally do. When you come back (please come back!) grab a piece of paper and write down all of the messages you remember from above without cheating! Check and see how many you remember. Unless you have a photographic memory I'd imagine the maximum number of messages you can recall would be 2-3. Guess what? Consumers are exactly the same.
Experiential marketing is unrivalled in terms of its ability to engage and communicate with consumers. High dwell times, interactive mechanics, free gifts, provision of an experience all generate huge positivity around a brand and open consumers up to learning more, ultimately - in the best cases, driving word of mouth and purchase in the weeks and months beyond.
More often than not, consumers understand the trade off when it comes to experiential marketing. They know that in return for an experience or sample they will either directly or indirectly expose themselves to messages about the brand. They expect it and in cases where the experience or the brand is of particular interest, they want it to happen. In one of the earliest experiential evaluations we carried out, for a Premium bank account, consumers said just that: "You've given me something I value, you've got my attention, tell me more." On that occasion, the balance was wrong.
The balance between the experience provided and the messages conveyed is often wrong, but usually the problem lies in the opposite direction to that mentioned above. There appears to be a school of thought surrounding experiential marketing, perhaps not unreasonably, that because of the associated higher dwell times and greater interaction, it is an opportunity to present consumers with as much information as possible. This is not the case. The communication opportunities engendered by experiential should focus on the quality and depth of the information shared, not quantity and breadth. Whether you have a consumer in front of your brand for 30 seconds, five minutes or 3 hours the aim should be to send them away with a solid reason to believe, to talk, to buy. A range of messages risks diluting the strength of the messages, prevents clarity of brand purpose being established in consumer minds and can mean mixed messages are passed on from person to person.
Clearly, creating positivity around the brand should be the first consideration for branded experiential activity and this is eminently achievable even if consumers are confused about why the activity is taking place or why they should consider purchase in the future. However, the sharing of brand information should be high on the list of priorities and given how effective this method of marketing is at disseminating engaging messages, not doing so with any great success is a massive opportunity missed.
As part of carrying out evaluation on branded experiential activity with 2cv's specifically designed evaluation tool EXP (more information here) there are numerous occasions when we have advised clients to cut down on the number of messages they are trying to convey. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't - that's their prerogative, but what we consistently see is that clear, concise messages delivered in lower numbers have a greater effect on consumer perceptions both at the time of the activity and beyond.
Think about other forms of marketing - TV, radio, online - very rarely are consumers expected to absorb and understand a range of brand messages. Why should experiential be any different?