How experiential marketing is more about right content creation

For a brand, any on-ground activation or experiential campaign is not just the offline strategy and accompanied by a good online plan as well. But the shelf life remains limited till brands are not bolstered by solid content marketing strategies. Content can help move customers emotionally, deriving better recall and amplifying the whole reach. But how is that achieved? BuzzInContent finds out

Akanksha Nagar
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For a good period of time, brands have been trying to establish a positive association with customers through experiential marketing— trying to immerse them in live experiences to interact better with products and services.

But given the fact that they can eventually buy products online, how would an on-ground activity attract customers? An on-ground activity needs to activate customers emotionally and an event is not at all experienced till the time it doesn’t tell a good story.

That is where marriage of content and experiential becomes important for brands to give customers a real experience. 

BuzzInContent talks to agencies and brands to figure out why it is a must for brands to build good content strategy around their experiential marketing strategies.

Unlike traditional marketing approaches, experiential content marketing creates opportunities where consumers can engage with a brand’s identity and core values in a tangible way.

Data suggests that 60% of an event’s offline footfall is actually determined by when a customer finds the information via a brand online. More than this, consumers are spoilt for choice and prefer to consume content on OTTs most of the time, sitting at home. So, how would a brand convince a customer to choose to spend time at an event? This is actually why content is hugely critical because if brands are not being able to describe or communicate to users what they can experience, they will not step out of their houses, said

Suchita Salwan

Suchita Salwan, Founder and CEO, Little Black Book.

She added, “Content created around an experiential campaign helps the customer understand what the brand’s values are. Brands need to find a way to ensure that a customer very clearly understands the brand ethos and values or otherwise it becomes only a commodity. The moment a brand becomes a commodity, the only differentiation point for a brand ceases to be just the price.”

Roshan Abbas

Roshan Abbas, Founder and Managing Director, Geometry Encompass, said, “When brands explore experiential, there are multiple ways of exploring content to even communicate the core idea of doing the whole experiential exercise to the customers. Sometimes, the brands use the communication platform to just inform people about doing such campaigns. But people want to see content that moves them and that is why any communication piece needs to be done with a good content piece.”

While experiential activations provide consumers an opportunity to interact with the brand, product or service tangibly and immediately, content adds authenticity. It helps the brand to create word of mouth and user-generated content around such on-ground activations via influencers online.

For example, Godrej L'Affaire, a curated experiential luxury lifestyle platform by the Godrej Group launched in 2007, while giving an on-ground experience to customers, successfully created a good social media presence while creating real two-way conversations through content. It has been building an influencer engagement through user-generated content, creating a community for itself.

Sujit Patil

Sujit Patil, VP and Head of Corporate Brand and Communications, Godrej Group, said, “Experiential campaigns do well when there is a good element and mix of offline and online content. Offline content is the overall experience and online is the content around the experiences and there has to be a latch connecting both. Experiential activities give customers an immersive experience and engagement with the brand on ground but only a few people get the emotions to get aligned with the brand purpose. That is when content generated online around the activity becomes important, which can be curated via micro influencers or thought leaders. They come and experience and generate content, amplifying the reach to the right audience.

Echoing the same view, Salwan explained how content and experiential are a great mechanism for creating user-generated content.

LBB had created an on-ground activation of treasure hunt for the AlphaBounce shoe of Adidas based on the insight that youngsters love such on-ground games.

Activated across cities, the participants were supposed to look out for the right clue to win, which ended up creating conversations around the brand, both online and offline.

After the activity, Salwan explained how the brand had experienced a surge of mention online via hashtags while creating a good chain of word-of-mouth marketing. And thus, the customers actually became part of the brand and product conversation.

She said brands need to focus on creating pre- and post-content strategy around experiential campaigns to extend their shelf life.

How to extend shelf life of on-ground activation

What is otherwise a day or a two-day event is now getting extended for weeks through activated content online.

Salwan said, “While brands can explore many formats like GIFs, video, hashtags, pictorial content around the campaigns, creating as many content assets as possible, it is necessary to distribute those assets once the experiential marketing activities are over. And to be able to push the content out in media in different ways, they should create multiple assets. This way they can optimise the shelf life of that experience. It happens if a brand has a good content strategy.”

Experiential campaigns are an expensive affair and brands can explore this option for maximum one week. But by ensuring content is part of it, brands can immediately create an opportunity for people to engage with it for a much longer time, Abbas said. 

He added, “As brands can engage with customers for much longer through content, it also helps to measure how far the reach has gone when it is in a format like videos or hashtags.”

It is said contrary to other forms of marketing, experiential provides immediate feedback when executed correctly. So how can one exactly measure the ROI when online content is added?

Measuring ROI of experiential content marketing

Abbas suggested brands can explore podcast as another form of content around experiences and said hashtags are another way to track the reach. “Digital ROI is trackable through hashtags, calls to action or image searches but otherwise it is difficult to measure the ROI of any on-ground activation,” he said.

Patil said that at the end of the day brand love and affinity goes up via such campaigns. Though one can’t directly measure experiential ROI, UGC can definitely build a good recall for a brand.

“Building a community via influencers who act as brand advocates plays a big role in fighting a brand’s image crisis as well,” he said.

Salwan said brands need to look at ROI from the lens of the conversation created to measure ROI through experiential content marketing.

“Any great experience is actually a conversation creator and not the opposite. Also, they need to understand how much they are investing in creating any such activation. The experience should be so strong that they don't have to pay through the nose to draw people in because if they do, they haven’t probably thought about the right experience,” she added.

What sort of right skill set and agency mix is required to best experiment with both?

Salwan said marketers need to look from the omni-channel lens to best experiment with the same.

“Marketers need to listen to customers to tell what experience will attract. When creating content around it, they need to know to push it out on right platforms. If a brand has done a fantastic experiential marketing campaign and wishes to sustain it, they ought to have digital spends to reiterate that message for everyone,” she added.

Patil said different skillsets have to come together.

Research in terms of drawing an insight and then creating the content around that is needed. Expertise is required to create content around social media. Curation of the experience is a must skill. Influencer engagement is also necessary to bring out the whole essence of an experience. And all this, he said, comes through a host of agencies, with a series of competencies that come into play —a great 360-degree collaboration.

Experts said brands across categories can explore this option only when they know how to scale its frequency up online while designing a unique experience on-ground.

content creation experiential marketing