Wednesday, 11 September 2013

All you wanted to know about ‘Experiential Marketing’ but were 2 afraid to ask (Part I)

Experiential marketing has become one of those terms which are so fashionable yet so obscure in what they really refer to that its impact on actual marketing practices is limited, and its potential still untapped.
So, let’s begin to clarify by being explicit about what is NOT experiential marketing:
·         It is not advertisement driven by emotions
·         It is not a shallow or superficial marketing strategy
·         It is not impossible to define
·         It is not a different term for ‘Creative Marketing’
The basics of experiential marketing lie outside of marketing practices and, hence, cannot be reduced to marketing alone. Literature on the nature of human experiences has deep sociological, anthropological, and philosophical roots. The key to creating experiential marketing campaigns lies in understanding what the term ‘Experiential’ means. Here, once more, one must begin by avoiding traditional and often simplistic definitions of ‘experience’. So we must understand what experience is not:
·         It is not a sophisticated term used to explain things like love, hate and other emotional responses, or mystical and religious events.
·         It is not an exchangeable concept with ‘feeling’ or ‘sensation’
·         It is not subjective—meaning that every experience is essentially incommensurable
·         It is not objective—meaning that every experience is quantifiable and subject to, for instance, statistical manipulation
Sometimes when we try to untie a knot too quickly we end up simply making it tighter. If ‘experiential marketing’ is the knot we need to untie, in order to find all its connections and uses, then it must be the case that we must work it out by softening each individual lace.
To properly understand experience we must think on two entirely dissimilar events in which we use the word experience to explain them. Take first the experience of standing in front of your favorite painting (I hope you have one, but if not maybe some masterpieces could serve as inspirations Picasso, Liechtenstein, Kandinsky). When standing in front of a captivating piece of art we are said to have an aesthetic experience, that is, an combination of a series of effects: the colors awake certain moods, the figures, lines or shapes are associated with other people, other places, other times, the museum or gallery itself encourages in us a certain sense of respect and awe for what is being shown, and, finally the work will also help to inspire our own creativity—depending on our interests we may be inspired by the use of forms, colors, by the depiction of an event, the way a person’s character is conveyed, etc. Now, on the other hand, think of returning from a trip to a distant country with a different culture, and telling someone how that experience was life changing. An experience will in this case refer to our new found relationships, our experimentation with new foods, new habits, and new places, and the discovery of our own particular costumes and differences with respect to the local people, etc., all of which created in us a reflection and a sense of pride and fulfillment for having felt, heard, seen and touched so many new things. Keep in mind that there is no reflection no intellectual grasp without the many new sensations, and that in equal manner, those new sensations gain meaning only when we begin to reflect on them.
In both kinds of experiences there are two fundamental aspects, two joining lines between them:
1) both can only be understood by means of what can be called a multi-level analysis, that is, an analysis of aspects that cannot be simply added and subtracted to each other, but which instead can be taken as running parallel to each other, while maintaining a subtle but tangible relation to each other;
And 2) in both kinds of experiences, we project a certain sense of unity and coherence that work by collecting the diverse elements, so that they don’t appear as separate and unrelated, but as forming a coherent structure, a network of elements. Like all networks these ones don’t exist in isolation, but are connected, in turn, to other networks, which are in any case separate from the new one—this is why no matter how new an experience is, how novel it seems, it is not disconnected from the rest of our lives, but on the contrary it is always new, novel, and exciting, with respect to other previous experiences.

The second Part of this story will discuss how to identify the experiential elements of any offering and, more importantly, it will discuss the elements that transform marketing and consumption into an experience. Subscribe to the factish and keep up to date with the creative trends that are moving the world today.

Written by Daniel Vargas Gómez

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