Starting a new year can be an exciting prospect. As brands and marketers begin planning brand activation in earnest in January, many are eager to understand new trends in marketing and experiential. It is a time where we take a look at what was well-received in 2018 and the direction that technology is taking us. Equally as important is understanding current events or environments that may interfere with or encourage new buying patterns. It is at this intersection that we can identify and predict new trends in the coming year.
As this Ad Age article asserts, brand experiences will continue to have a significant impact on consumers. But, the key will be for brands to find ways to connect with their audiences on a deeply emotional level. The article lists 8 trends predicted to shift the marketing industry in 2019. From subscription-based brands keeping things fresh with brand activation and surprising products, to department stores going through a “renaissance” by focusing on experiences, its clear that the “experience era” will continue to be strong into the New Year.
No matter where we turn, brands everywhere are seeking to improve the quantity and quality of consumer engagement. And there is a quantifiable reason that they are so focused: a recent report found that “companies who have improved engagement increase cross-sell by 22%, drive up-sell revenue from 13% to 51%, and also increase order sizes from 5% to 85%.” It’s important to note that how a brand chooses to create engagement points can vary, and can (even should) have multiple points of entry.
While social media is an unprecedentedly effective medium with which to reach a global audience, it still does not compare to real-life personal connections. The face time that takes place at live brand activations gives consumers the personal consumer engagement they are looking for. As this Entrepreneur article puts it, “creating an experience that puts the consumer first and brand second will be more appealing to customers, as they will feel that they are obtaining value on multiple fronts.”
2018 was filled with strategies that brands incorporated into their experiential marketing campaigns. While many were successful, like in all areas of life, there are practices that are best retired. Some experiential tactics have become so commonplace that many are seen as tiresome and ineffective. And, as this Biz Bash articleargues, this is another reason to reassess the past to decide what to move forward with, and what concepts to leave behind.
The article enlisted the help of event professionals in both the U.S. and Canada to narrow down 8 practices that should stay in 2018. One being Instagram museums with no purpose, as well as putting “Instagrammable” over quality in activations. Two, keeping creative ideas constrained by short deadlines. In reading through the 8 practices, one idea is clear – marketers are wise to focus on quality. While brands can benefit from high-performing activation trends, they cannot be used at the expense of a quality brand experience. If the experience itself is sub par, consumers will easily forget it, or worse, develop a negative view of the brand.
Does this sound familiar? You walk into the office, sit down, and open up your computer. You read and respond to a few emails, and then, before you know it, you have your phone in hand, checking your social media profiles. It happens to all of us. In our 24/7 culture, distractions are very real and very challenging to overcome throughout the work day. And while taking a break can aid in focus and efficiency, distractions are different – they “just happen.” So how do we avoid giving into temptation and veering off course?
Entrepreneur provides these tips to help keep people on track and reduce the amount of time spent distracted. Some are simple, like turning off your phone. Others take a little more practice, like training your brain with the “Pomodoro Method,” which segments the day into focus times and break periods. One of the more interesting tips suggested was having workers increase frequency of complex tasks, as they make it difficult for the brain to become distracted.
In the world of television and sci-fi, the difference between a fan and a super fan may seem subtle – but it is significant. For example, someone who has seen all episodes of Star Trek is a fan. Someone who is fluent in Klingon, however, would earn super fan status. For brands, the opportunity to interact with their own super fans is a huge opportunity, as most super fans are eager to engage with their favorite brand and share their experiences. Yet, companies need to be aware of the inherent sensitivity of super fans, especially when it comes to authenticity.
Super fans know every detail, language, and backstory. Which means that if brands phone it in, super fans know it, and will be vocal about their disappointment. To face these challenges head on, brands can reference the Event Marketer’s Guide. The guide provides tips on how brands can use super fans’ excitement to amplify an event organically.
Deadlines, Departments & Documentation: How to Get Your Activation Approved
Brand activation provides brands an opportunity for quality face time with customers. Even in its simplest forms, brands can see a significant benefit with experiential marketing. And if it’s in the budget, delivering unforgettable footprints can lead to increased revenue, brand awareness, and loyalty. But there can be barriers in creating brand experiences that companies need to keep in mind during the planning process.
Starting with the basics, one of the first decisions is determining the markets in which to activate. Next, as simple as it may be, it is important to know your team and the ways they are able to best perform. Check out a few more tips on how to ensure that the activation you planned can achieve its best life.
Humans are visual beings. Our brains are wired to process images faster than text – 60,000x faster to be exact. And when you consider that 40% of people respond better to an image, it makes sense why experiential marketing has found such success. Not only does it create face-to-face, custom experiences, but it includes visual components that resonate with consumers.
But depending on the fact that a brand activation is inherently visual is not enough. Companies and marketers are challenged to create something that is visually stunning, but makes sense for the brand. This Inc. article suggests 3 ways to achieve visual excellence. These include creating a social media campaign that encourages sharing and ensuring that the event experience is carefully curated. Check out the full article for more.
Emotion can play a major factor when it comes to making any decision. And when it comes to purchasing decisions, emotion can even overpower reason. However, when it comes to men, there is a social norm that encourages stoicism, which can make it difficult for brands to reach them emotionally.
One brand that is looking to break through this stereotype is Dove Men. In their recent campaign, #HolidayShear, the brand provided current and future dads with an opportunity that would resonate for a lifetime. The campaign focused on creating experiences that encouraged dads to bond with their children. Instead of creating a new emotional experience, Dove Men looked to strengthen an emotional bond that already exists. Check out the full details of the campaign here.