Marketing is all about Ps: the classic product, price, promotion and place that have been around since the 1960s.
These four fundamentals are crucial to all marketing strategy and activity. In this blog series we’re looking at each in turn, and showing how all four relate to experiential and in-store campaigns.
In part 1 we covered place: this second instalment is all about promotion. Experiential and in-store marketing are promotional plays by their nature. However, these promotion strategies need a promotion strategy of their own.
How does promotion fit into experiential?
Promotion is about sending the right message to the right people at the right time. Experiential events are a promotion for the brand, product or service, but they also need promotion in their own right – and they feed into your other promotional efforts when they’re done.
Experiential promotion is a game of two halves. The experience promotes the business, but the business has to promote the experience, and both strategy and tactics need to be aligned if the promotion is to come off successfully.
Three key promotional considerations
To line up your experience with your wider promotional efforts, there are three specific things to keep your eye on. Get these right, and your experience will harmonise with the rest of your marketing; get them wrong and you’ll be playing the wrong note.
The messaging, the photos, the hashtags and so on need to be on brand, and so do the people. What they say and do has to come out of brand guidelines and careful training to make sure it expresses your brand values with the utmost clarity.
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This is also important when you’re choosing what to put in videos, photos or social media messaging on the day. These are great opportunities to add a personal touch to your campaign, but it has to be the right touch. You wouldn’t expect to see wacky, wild behind-the-scenes banter on a shaky mobile phone recording from Audi, whose brand is about precision, style and control. A brand like that demands a steady camera, a measured pace, and a studied look at what one person’s been up to on the day – staying professional at all times.
Tone of voice
Tone of voice is linked to brand, of course, but getting it right is imperative if you’re doing on the spot filming on the day, or in the lead up to the event. You want to drive people to the experience, but you also have a product or service to sell. There’s a fine balance to strike between providing an experience that’s its own reward and emphasising the offering.
People need to feel excited about the event – but they also need to feel what your brand as a whole is designed to make them feel, and be confident in your core product or service. You don’t want them saying “well, they put on a good show, but I’m still not sure I’d buy it” – whatever it happens to be.
Personas are a huge part of promotion: everything’s designed to reach an imaginary person who represents a segment of your market.
That’s why you need to ask yourself: who are the people you want approaching the stand? Where are they likely to be active? If it’s Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, you need to build a presence there well in advance of the event itself. Showing up with something to promote the week before the event is always going to feel forced and artificial, and it won’t build the momentum you need.
Building your social presence up front has another benefit too. The theory goes that it’s better to have a thousand brand loyalists – ‘true fans’ who’ll buy everything you produce, share everything you create, and turn up to every experience you put on – than ten thousand followers who only sign up to win a free iPad. These ‘true fans’ are the people who’ll extend your promotional reach beyond the event itself, and create the essential FOMO factor – Fear Of Missing Out – that will draw people to future activations.
Promoting an event – and letting that event feed into wider promotional efforts – means thinking about the experiential event as part of a campaign. It needs promoting before and during the actual activation, and it’s a rich source of engaging content during and after.
The continuity between your event and your wider campaign will come from coherent branding, tone of voice and targeting. All of this should be established in the planning stage, and it’ll be carried through at the specific touchpoints we’ve already introduced.
Video content is a blend of the planned and the serendipitous. Sometimes, what happens on the day will outshine whatever you had in mind, but you’ll always need a plan for what kind of happenings and encounters you want to look out for, record and share.
Social media – hashtags, tagging in influencers and local media, responding to retweets and shares – demands an amount of agility and flair. It’s impossible to predict if something you post on social media will take off, and if it does, you’ll have to monitor it closely. Social media responses can turn on a dime and you’ll need someone in-house to handle any grievances that emerge.
In both cases it’s wise to think about getting people involved, and who you’d like to bring on board. If you can approach people beforehand – and you can, even if it’s something as small as setting the hashtag for people to share their experiences in your own social media posts – do so. The more you can get other people sharing and talking about the experience, the wider the word will spread – and that’s the whole point of promotion.