Putting storytelling into marketing helps customers drive your brand

The 2022 Sydney Royal Easter Show featured an attraction emblazoned with a red neon logo for the popular TV show amid dodgem cars, logging demonstrations and home-made jam stalls. The Voice Australia.

Within the sideshow structure, viewers were asked to stand in front of an augmented reality screen and suddenly found themselves on the show’s stage in front of its famous rotating chairs. A celebrity coach stands next to them and takes a photo.

As each participant leaves, a video of their brush with fame is emailed to them along with details of the upcoming new series. Over the 12 days of the Sydney Easter Show, thousands of excited fans took part in the activation.

If an ad is plastered instead of a network the voice A few buses would have reached many times the number of people at less cost. But a cursory comparison of the numbers is far from the full story.

Such experiential marketing is undergoing a global renaissance as big companies harness its power to create a more meaningful bond with consumers than a static photo on the side of a bus to Bondi Beach.

Despite being devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the sector was worth USD 47 billion globally in 2021 and will grow to USD 57 billion by 2028, according to Business Research Insights.

“It brings the brand to life. Projects*This is where 'The Voice Experience’ took place.

„A 15-second video on your phone can’t stir your emotions that way.”

Meaningful experiences

Ironically, while experiential marketing activities were halted during the lockdowns, the pandemic has actually increased overall spending as advertisers seek to re-engage with consumers in interactive ways.

„Now there’s a greater desire for meaning over material possessions,” Barker explains.

„Nearly three-quarters of millennials say that experiences bring them more happiness than physical things.

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„They understand that well-being is about making memories and belonging to communities, not just acquiring things or wealth.”

This trend is a testament to experiential marketing’s ability to tell extraordinary stories and foster resilient human connections.

Above-the-line or digital campaigns can certainly increase awareness and increase sales, but they may not achieve the same lasting impact.

„We’ve conceived and executed launches for new cars, games, cosmetics, phones, groceries and more, and each one has delivered a unique, completely original experience that sticks in the memory and, more importantly, turns customers into brand advocates,” says Parker.

Several studies support his view. A 2018 study by Sitel Group found that half of customers who had a positive brand experience would recommend it on social media, while other researchers concluded that it creates a lasting emotional connection that strengthens long-term customer loyalty.

However, despite solid evidence of its effectiveness, it remains on the periphery of the marketing field.

US$57 billion may be high, but it represents just 3.6 percent of total marketing spend.

„The downside of experiential marketing is that media agencies often stick with what they know – TV, radio, print and online,” Barker says.

„They walk away because it’s a great skill and they don’t have the expertise, and even if they give it a spin, it tends to be a tactical expense only at the end of a campaign.”

Storytelling in Marketing

reach the sky

The trepidation is usually due to concerns about the aforementioned lack of access, but as the Sydney Easter Show dives deeper into numbers, this is a misnomer.

„In those 12 days, there were hundreds of thousands of people who saw our sign, all of whom fell neatly into the target demographic,” he says.

„The experience was the first of its kind, so it was featured on TV and radio as well as multiple digital channels. Everyone who participated got high-quality footage of being on set with their favorite coach, and almost everyone shared it on all their social channels.

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Because the average person has more than 300 Facebook friends, the reach would be in the millions, and there’s more engagement and targeting than any other medium, Barker says.

Publication chapter The Voice Australia After one week, it had the highest ratings of any show of the year.

Leap into the unknown

Barker joins Projects* after a series of executive roles with publishers in the United Kingdom and Australia. Despite numerous C-suite opportunities, she surprised herself by taking a massive leap into an unfamiliar sphere.

„It was a big risk because I took a 90 percent pay cut and was thrown into a business that most CMOs consider more of a buzzword than a serious marketing consideration,” he recalls.

Sixteen years later, he became the sole owner and has served an impressive list of clients including Samsung, Mercedes-Benz, Hermes, Unilever, Coach, Reebok and Maserati.

One of her first major appearances was for a TV cooking show MasterchefA very ambitious and compelling one.

„We had 12 weeks to build a 100-seat restaurant from scratch in Sydney, hire it, find suppliers and then execute a different menu every night for a month,” he recalls.

From getting council permission, hiring a food and beverage supplier, designing the structure, finding celebrity chefs and selling tickets, it’s a mammoth undertaking.

„I was a magazine publisher and suddenly I was in charge of running a restaurant, and the buck stopped with me, so every time the wine ran low or the power went out I frantically fixed it,” he says.

Storytelling in Marketing

B2B Bugbear

But the results surpassed even the most optimistic goals, with extensive media coverage and staggering reach through social media.

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It also proved the potential of experiential marketing for B2B marketing as a TV channel, production company and major sponsors all used it to delight their customers.

„In fact, one of my bugbears is that brands don’t use experiential or B2B marketing,” he says.

„The majority of consumer-facing B2Bs are still spending money on three-by-three stands with two posters on the wall with Blue Talk at a conference.

„It’s a missed opportunity to generate some buzz and articulate a brand story that sets them apart from their competitors.”

Through hundreds of projects, he has seen the incredible impact that personal experiences can have.

„The best part of my job is seeing the joy on the face of a client who was cynical about using the experience, but seeing the amazing results we achieved,” he says.

„I think there was a time when I was pretty cynical too, but I saw the sheer joy on the faces of kids big and small after they did a video with Keith Urban.”

Hair growth

„It was a very traumatic but memorable experience when we built a huge, pop-up hair salon in the middle of Sydney to launch a new shampoo,” recalls Barker.

“We had film crews, reporters, an audience with a celebrity hairstylist and a team of stylists watching people get their hair done.

„Suddenly the wind blew and the whole structure shook violently. It was scary.

“The whole thing was about to take off so we all had to hang on to the man rope until the fire brigade arrived.

“It turned into a whirlwind. In the middle of all the chaos were five sad looking girls with wet hair, so we had to take the nearest salon to get them done.

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