Activations and experiences should be focal point for marketers

Focusing on activations and experiences may be the single most important investment a brand can make in today’s competitive climate. So says Kirsten Mercer of ProActive.

Today, more than ever before, consumers want to engage with brands through experiences and activations that are exciting, interesting, educational or add value to their lives in some way. Customer experience is king and for brands this offers a golden opportunity to be better than their competitors. Well-placed, well-timed and relevant activations can disrupt and actively gain market share for brands, products and services.

A recent Gartner survey confirms that customer experience is where it’s at in terms of gaining followers and winning the loyalty of consumers. According to the survey, customer experience is the most pressing mandate for marketers. As consumers become increasingly more empowered and as competition becomes increasingly fiercer, the experience that a consumer has of a brand is proving to be the only enduring competitive advantage.

In terms of the role of marketing in customer engagement, leading into 2016 89% of the companies surveyed expected to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% in 2012. With the use of social media compounding, where consumers can laud or eviscerate a brand at the swipe of a finger, brand engagement in the form of experiences and activations has become all the more essential to the life, longevity and bottom line of a brand.

We are living in an age where every single day we are constantly bombarded with bits of information through various channels – be it social media, traditional media, out of home and other forms of information sharing and advertising. The advertising and marketing space is noisy. So how does a brand get through to its target audience?

Research. Know what your target audience likes, how they like to be engaged, when, where and why. This will ensure that the activation is relevant, powerful and memorable. And this doesn’t mean that budgets need to be enormous. Clever, meaningful experiences can be implemented with a smaller budget as long as they can effectively and positively connect brand to consumer.

Give the experience context. Make it part of a bigger campaign or a bigger message as this, if done correctly, can make the impact and the reach greater.

Be consistent. A brand may make a promise to its consumers, but at the end of the day it is the consumer who decides whether or not the brand delivered on its promise and on what it stands for. A brand needs to not only meet the consumers’ expectations, it needs to also, from time to time, exceed these expectations. And all of this needs to be done consistently. Why? Consumers are loyal up to a point. To keep their loyalty a product or service needs to be perceived as being better than its competitor. This is where a proactive approach is key. Activations need to be well-planned, well-executed and consistent. An activations campaign needs to build on the one before it as this deepens the assimilation and expands customer base.

Activations help to build brands. In a competitive, cluttered environment, activations deliver positive consumer experiences and influence purchasing decision where it matters most.

Experiential Marketing