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When it comes to evolving your event and experiential marketing efforts, it’s true that you get out what you put in. But you don’t need to come out of the gate running. Many organizations and teams who digitally transformed offline marketing started small, while others scaled quickly. In other words, for some, implementing experiential marketing happened all at once; others, it has taken years. It all depends on the goals of your organization and marketing department at large.
Regardless of your approach, there is one crucial step you must take with your vendor of choice: lay the groundwork for complex change at scale.
In this blog, we will discuss three key elements that have helped many Fortune-500 brands like BMW, Allstate and Molson successfully reap huge rewards from experiential marketing technology.
Before selecting an experiential marketing technology vendor, it’s worth understanding the how other companies achieved success. One part of that is how your experiential programs are structured, from a consumer standpoint.
The other involves the back-end: processes around implementation, data transfer, and integrations. Understanding how these factors play into your success will help mitigate program failure and risk, and ultimately earn you quick wins faster. For example, how will your vendor of choice centralize data and processes from your existing tech or vendors?
The Limelight solutions team uses a process derived their work with over 30 brands in various industries, and digital transformation frameworks from analysts like Forrester and McKinsey.
Analyze: Current state vs. mature state
Design & Develop: Blueprint for success
Implement & Evaluate: Implement and evaluate
Transformation can happen all at once, but it’s usually more common to start with a pilot.
Pilots allow you to mitigate risk by testing your experiential strategy without incurring huge costs. Other benefits of pilot programs include:
It usually makes sense that the event you select for a pilot has most of the configurations available across your experiential strategy, to ensure the capabilities of your vendor match the breadth of your needs. This is also known as a “lighthouse project”. The signal effect helps the pilot “demonstrate tangible wins and set new performance standards,” according to McKinsey.
Before starting a pilot, make sure to be clear about the results you want to achieve, setup real-time measurement and know how you're going to get there.
According to McKinsey’s Leadership Blog, pilot programs can reduce cycle times by 50%, cut costs by over 3 %, and double productivity, all while improving customer satisfaction, quality, and employee engagement.
Three “Pilot” Practices For Omnichannel Success With Experiential
McKinsey recommends three “pilot” practices to help make rollouts successful.
1) Figure out your fighting unit
This internal team of mobilizers helps execute the pilot. At an enterprise organization, the unit is, according to McKinsey “usually a small, semi-autonomous team, often cross-functional in nature, with seven to 12 people.” Going back to the roles and responsibilities of your internal team, the fighting unit would typically involve marketing leadership and program management.
2) Prepare flexible resource allocation
Ensure your team understands its role will be to watch for and adapt to “changing circumstances, emerging customer preferences, and new developments in the external environment” (McKinsey). Your team can then immediately leverage these insights to inform new ideas, processes and workflows. For example, if one set of messaging produces higher conversions than other, the success can be replicated.
3) Test and learn, FAST
According to McKinsey, these two concepts, “rapid iteration and experimentation and continuous learning” are the most crucial factors in creating a pilot that builds momentum, real results, and, at the management level, the skills to lead transformation.
Rapid iteration involves deploying new ideas and innovation through minimum viable product rollouts. “These offer the ability to get feedback on something nowhere near ready for prime time, yet good enough in the time available to give users or customers a sense of what the final product might be to get their input quickly (McKinsey).”
Continuous learning is about reading the data to improve results and processes.
After gathering and actioning data from the initial pilot, it is time to scale success. According to McKinsey, there are three main approaches to suit different organizational circumstances and needs:
Linear scale-ups: rollout happens in one area after the other
Geometric scale-ups: rollout happens in waves, each wave larger than the last (2, 4, 16..)
Big bang: rollout happens all at once; requires many resources but only for a short period
No matter what approach you take to scale, it should involve skill development, coaching/mentorship and change management. This can be done in conjunction with your experiential marketing partner for management across tiers, regions and departments.
Your strategic partner will help determine the best method to measure, iterate and grow success.
Before scaling, ask yourself, “Have I…”
Established a baseline for key metrics and goals by brand and program?
Formalized an account management program designed to drive long-term success with the following?
Your experiential marketing technology partner can help meet these requirements and ease internal resources needed to scale.
When selecting an experiential marketing technology partner, it’s important to look beyond the bells and whistles of a front-end experience. Flashy displays might pull people in, but they won’t necessarily convert them. Worse, they may be just that—a way of attracting people to your activation or booth. Consumers will feel duped, and this compounding negative experience could end up damaging your brand and bottom line results.
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