Experience as Currency

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In an effort to relate to consumers on a notable, more memorable level, brands have turned to operating live experiences. Experiential marketing isn’t a turn from the traditional stream of thought of simply selling a product or service – but rather, brand marketers are aiming to create meaningful, immersive, and inventive experiences that consumers can gain from.

Held at the Walt Disney Stage as a part of the Experience Economy seminars, the panelists for this event have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, including the moderator Richard Shea, the president and co-founder of Shea Communications and Major League Eating, Ed Horne, President at Endeavor Global Marketing, Raymond Leon Roker, Vice President of AEG Studios, Karina Montgomery, the SVP of Strategic Solutions at Pandora, and Wanda Young, SVP of Marketing and Consumer Engagement at ESPN.

The foundation of this seminar comes from the fact that nowadays, consumers crave life experiences over accumulating more “stuff”. When someone attends or positively interacts with a brand experience, they establish affectionate feelings pertaining to that brand, which builds consumer loyalty and devotion. The true goal of building experiences is to generate a symbiotic relationship between both the brand and the consumer.

However, the giant caution sign before trialing a brand experience is that it can come off phony and transparently transactional rather than beneficial to consumers. However, Roker advises to combat this issue, marketers should create events that live up or surpass consumer expectations, and bring brands close to consumers in the most organic way possible. As Horne put it, consumers can tell the difference between something that is genuine and something that is B.S.

Another concern with experiential marketing is how to provide a great brand experience for companies with a limited budget. Horne encourages making an effort to make those smaller budgets work harder, while also offering a helpful experience for the audience.

An easy and painless way to offer beneficial experiences for audiences, according to Roker, is to bring things to events that people are looking for. This can be done through free sponsored Wi-Fi spots, charging stations, or even air conditioning. Being truly helpful is what creates brand devotion.

Marketers planning an experience for consumers may plan to involve an influencer or brand ambassador at the event. Montgomery advises marketers to formalize the influencer’s role as much as possible, manage the influencer and their output and what you want to see out of their jobs. Roker recommends that the best way to get the influencer experience that is best for the brand is in the selection process, before the event. Companies should hire influencers that align with the brand, most importantly the brand’s mission, purpose and culture. Doing so will prevent any potential issues that an influencer might bring.

Creating strong experiences for consumers is more than just placing a logo on something, but building a business from a strategic opportunity. Offering brand engagement and interaction will drive consumers to develop brand affinities that is not possibly through traditional advertising channels.

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