Why Experiential? Here Are Three Reasons

August 28, 2018

Ken Dec

Ken Dec is Executive Vice President of Marketing and Client Strategies at The Expo Group. He is a 30-year marketing veteran who has worked on brands including IBM, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Kaiser Permanente, Pfizer and more from leadership positons at Arnold Worldwide, Hill Holliday, George P. Johnson and MC2. Dec is also a published author, teacher and speaker who has presented at Event Marketer conferences, Exhibitor Show, HCEA, AAAAs, IAB, PhARMA and Mobile World Congress.

Forbes recently published a terrific article entitled 3 Reasons Why CMOs Should Embrace Experiential MarketingLots of areas for agreement. But I think it could have gone a little deeper.

When I get asked the “Why Experiential?” question, here’s my “rule of three” answer:

The Power of DOING something: There is a great Chinese quote (often misattributed to Confucius) “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand” that social scientists have discovered to be true. 

Both emotional and logical memory is vastly improved when someone physically engages with a person, an idea or a brand. Physical engagement leads to stronger emotional connection and logical understanding. The live experience provides this physical engagement.

The Power of BELONGING: In his final novel, Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about…You are not alone.’” 

Vonnegut’s thoughts nicely tap into a psychological theory called “the need to belong,” which proposes that people’s sense of social belonging, or their sense that they have good relationships with others, is a fundamental human need. That is, having solid social connections can be as important to human health and happiness as having food, water and shelter. 

Indeed, there is research to support this idea, including the finding that having social relationships can increase your odds of survival by 50 percent. Live events tap into this deep human need and connect it to the brand in a way that social and other media can only hope to replicate.

The Power of DATA “at the moment”: Here’s my biggest agreement with the Forbes article I noted. The data that live engagement technology can generate can be used to:

  • Create hyper-personalized experiences (drawn from real-time data)
  • Enable on-the-fly recommendations for content or sessions, for example
  • Fuel and guide post-activation marketing or sales outreach
  • Create intel and insights ranging from time spent at a stand to demographics to attendee journeys to reactions to output before, during and post-event, all of which can inform the best decisions for future activations across non-live platforms.

This powerful combination of tapping into the power of DOING, BELONGING and DATA makes experiential investments high ROI while also creating connections between brands and consumers unique, compelling, memorable and measurable.

 

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