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April 4, 2008
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By: Anon

IT Works feedback: Right to reply




In response to our IT Works research survey, one viewer wrote: Is there any type of marketing which does not represent an 'experience' for the consumer? Aren't a telephone call to a hekpdesk, a sales-call, or a test-drive all experiences against which we make judgements about a brand? Can't Direct Mail be experential? A crazy piece of literature arrives and engages you in reading or familiarising yourself with a product, service or brand? And don't most of today's consumers actually experience the vast majority of brands through this very media? Where does experential marketing start and stop?

If you create an event - what's the experience from the point of invitation or advertisement? All marketing is surely interdependent and must support the brand proposition and customer expectation. In seeking to move advertising dollars into 'experential' aren't we merely supporting the ad man's claim to the strategic high-ground? Unless we are in defining the brand and the expectation, how can we possibly hope to define the experience?

Marketing works best when the strategy is clear, the brand promise real and the delivery uniform. When the media and message are targeted, we can claim to have done all that is required of the 'marketer'. Experential is not an alternative route for the brand because every customer touch-point from call-centre to exhibition centre is a key 'brand moment'. By attempting to define a new 'discipline' are we not simply guilty of confusing the brand champion who already fully understands his routes to market, but seeks specialists who can deliver his brand promise in each?

 

Hugh Robertson, managing partner of RPM Ltd, replies: Yes, I’d have to agree that "marketing is interdependent and must support the brand proposition and customer expectation". However, I take issue with the view that "experiential is not an alternative route for the brand because every customer touch-point from call-centre to exhibition centre is a key 'brand moment'."

Let’s be clear, most ‘brand moments’ are two-dimensional experiences. From opening and reading a direct mail piece to speaking to a call centre operator, from watching a television ad to reading a 48-sheet poster, from reading a press insert to ordering an online gift: all of these are two-dimensional ‘brand moments’. Important yes. Experiential in the truest sense? No.

Experiential marketing is about maximising the ‘brand moment’ to its fullest potential and creating a three-dimensional multi-sensory experience. It’s about immersing the consumer into a live experience of the brand and engaging all the senses. It’s one thing to sample a pint of Strongbow, a completely different experience altogether to sample a pint within the Strongbow Cider House at the V Festival - sipping perfectly chilled cider after dancing for hours to some of the UK’s finest DJ’s with your friends courtesy of Strongbow.

Brand experience when executed properly creates profound brand loyalty and emotional connection, and ultimately a rational incentive to product purchase – its three-dimensional multi-sensory approach making it unique and a distinct marketing channel in its own right.


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