—By Kevin Gosselin
To create content for a high definition film or commercial, every little detail on set must be executed perfectly because everything is in essence a close-up. No more getting by with a bit of paint on a scrap of wood to fill out a scene where a sign was needed. Now, a sign painter is required because audiences perfectly see each individual element swallowed up by the camera. And the audience will know immediately if something is amiss – with the unfortunate result that they’ll be jarred out of the magical world that is trying to be created. What was wonderful fantasy is now flat reality.
Now think of your experiential work as a production being filmed. Are you still designing and preparing for 4:3, 540P? Or are your events 4k (ultra HD) compliant already? Let’s hope for the latter, because live experiences are the highest reward activity you can undertake for your brand. Admittedly they have a cost per impression that is high, but the results are unrivaled. Remember, for the past 15 years, an experience-activated brand event is the leading influencer to get people to consider trying something they have never tried before. These results are more impressive for consumers who have participated in a brand experience, with 95% saying they are more inclined to purchase the brand that engaged them in the real world.
Social amplification has driven down the cost per impression of events considerably, and the ability to craft an experience for a few people that is then shared by a few thousand has revolutionized experiential. However, this is where the risk comes in. In the past a grotty catering spread might have grossed out one person. That person – likely a self-proclaimed “foodie” with a blog and Yelp influence, can now gross out an entire online community with a picture of sad sandwiches and skinned-over mayonnaise. And you thought mayonnaise wasn’t part of your experience. As connoisseurship behaviors are practiced by almost every smart-phone carrying person, how will you sleep knowing they will share images of EVERYTHING?
To get your experiential effort ready for its HD close-up, you need to relook every component with a fresh eye – including components you might not currently even consider part of your events. Because just as DH demands excellence of fit and finish, it is also broadcast in widescreen, demanding that you take a widescreen look at your elements. Chances are your consumers think the following are part of the activation, even if you don’t.
Consider the lines the opening credits of your experience. Are you prepared for consumers to be in line? You want people to know what to expect; if they begin the experience happy, they will more likely end it happy.
Build anticipation versus anxiety with activities to consume in line. Occupied time feels shorter than idle time.
With post-event follow-up, make it personalized beyond an auto-fill name field. Give them something to share with their own circle of friends. You are following your guests after they depart, right? That’s the highest reward: what they do after.
What about content capture? “Oh, we’ll just have ambassadors grab some video” is not a content capture plan. The vanity of belonging has people checking to see if the brand has shared the event in photos or video. If it looks professional and on-brand, content helps reinforce that positive HD experience. Just because the video captured is technically high definition does not automatically guarantee good content.
The above are things you most likely under-manage. And the stuff below: things that you might be over-investing in, because they don’t clarify an HD experience.
Giveaways: A considered gift is one thing. A giveaway is another. Don’t fall into the “must have a tchotchke” crowd. The costs mount – and what do they add to the experience? Is a tchotchke how you want your brand to be remembered?
Charging stations: Unless you are a charging accessories company, stop. This is not unique. Like gratuitous nudity in a film, If someone is only watching to see the nudity, it’s not a good film. So if someone is only coming to your experience to charge a phone, you don’t have an experience.
Brand Pillars: A good experience is focused and orchestrated so adding a ‘little thing in the corner’ about a different product or partner adds nothing but noise. Trying to say too much is just as confusing at an event as it is in a television commercial. Every live event needs ‘white space’ so that the star of the show can star.
By giving people an HD experience, you create so many additional ways to show that you care. Stay focused, ditch the ancillary and match your consumers’ expanded inclusivity of what is considered brand experience. And next time your boss asks if the event is ready to go, you answer, “It’s ready for a close up.”
Kevin Gosselin is VP-group creative director at Momentum Worldwide — New York.