Experiential and Alternative Marketing Strategies Post Covid-19
Experiential and Alternative Marketing strategies are means through which brands connect with their different audiences, grow brand equity and sales volume. They are both non-traditional methods of marketing and often executed in the form of brand activation.
Let’s get into this discussion by looking at basic definitions of the concepts involved – experiential and alternative marketing, non-traditional methods of marketing and brand activation. I grew up understanding that when you grasp the definition of a concept, it aids your ability to apply it in various contexts, as they present themselves.
Experiential marketing is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers by inviting and encouraging them to participate in the evolution of the brand. A good example would be GTB Fashion Week, Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, Pepsi Lituation Concert, Castrol Mega Launch, MTN MDCC [Mobile Direct Consumer Contact] etc.
On the other hand, Alternative marketing strategies are low-cost ways to target specific audiences with special or customized messages. Some examples would include destination branding, graffiti, street marketing, roadshows, viral marketing, mobile marketing, the use of social networking websites like Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube for real-time engagement with defined audiences.
Non-traditional marketing is any unconventional, strategic marketing program, activity or tactic that uses uncommon methods to reach a target audience in a new way. Examples include both experiential and alternative marketing strategies. But in a broader sense, it would include Guerrilla Marketing, Street Marketing, Seminars, Stunt Marketing, Stealth Marketing, Public Jokes, Events, Membership Organizations, Museum and Factory Tours, Theme Parks and Product Placement and more.
A critical review of great Experiential and Alternative (Guerrilla) Marketing reveals the differences. Key differentiators are: Planning, Risk, Cost, Leveragability, Initiation, Surprise, Humor, Disruption Etc. While experiential marketing can be said to be more strategic, expensive, requires lots of planning thus minimizing risk and being a lot more targeted, alternative marketing is more tactical and could be accidental. Planning is minimal, the cost is low and the risk of success or failure can be high.
It, therefore, goes to say that they are both extremely useful and impactful if properly designed and executed. The job of the brand manager is to properly assess the need and make a judgement call on which of the two strategies would deliver the highest returns for the brand.
The phrase alternative marketing is scarcely used, rather, we see guerrilla being discussed as a type of non-traditional marketing methods. We also read some commentaries where experiential marketing is categorized as part of alternative or guerrilla marketing.
This was true at the time the concepts were just emerging. That point of view cannot hold now. I lean more to the emerging school of thought that experiential marketing is much bigger than guerrilla marketing in terms of budget, planning and the overall impact on the brand. Experiential marketing has also, over time, grown to become a discipline and can no longer sit within the alternative or guerrilla marketing categorization.
Experience, passion point and emotional connection, attention and interest-grabbing are common to both marketing types, albeit at different levels. That a Guerrilla campaign has experience component does not make it Experiential. We have seen roadshows that are big and truly experiential and we have also seen roadshows that are purely tactical and leave little or no experience behind and that is because it was executed simply to sell products on the street.
A bigger question for me now is “What is the future of Experiential and Alternative marketing post-COVID-19, given that they are largely executed as brand activations?” Brand Activation is the art of driving consumer action through brand interaction and experiences. In simple terms, the key aim of this sort of campaign is to get consumers to act. It’s about bringing brands to life via experiences and forming long-term emotional connections. Experiential marketing does this through one-on-one live events which, of course, can be amplified digitally.
Experiential Marketing is about bringing brands/communication to life through real and relevant experiences, executed live, that are 100% related to the messaging of the campaign. It’s about making communication more meaningful and memorable. So, how can these be achieved with minimal physical contacts between the brand and her consumers? What role can the internet play to enhance the impact of brand activation post-COVID-19? These are the thoughts on my mind as we move into the new reality that post-COVID-19 may present. Brand managers and brand promoters like Customer Passion Point Limited (CPPL), should put on their thinking caps now.
Ikechukwu Kalu (Dip.M FCIM, MNIMN)
Lead Consultant, Customer Passion Point Limited (CPPL),
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