Feature—The Sky’s the Limit — New Realities for Face-to-Face Marketing
Every March, professionals from the events and exhibit industry gather for the EXHIBITOR show in Las Vegas. It's the time of year to consider the current state of the industry and review and recalibrate goals and initiatives that will propel us into the year ahead.
To get a perspective on what companies must do to successfully adjust to the changes that lie ahead, eConnections sat down with Russell Reich, MC2 Senior Vice President of Creative Strategy.
Russell feels that this is an exciting time for our industry. He cautions, however, that we are moving into two new realities.
- Movement away from structure-based exhibits to full-sensory, live experiences.
- Movement from analog to digital tactics.
These realities will impact how we work and the results we produce.
“We’re at an important juncture,” Russell says. “And companies are going to either cross the threshold or they won’t. Those that do will succeed.”
In order to succeed, brands need to be interesting to the target audiences they’re trying to reach. That’s where event marketing professionals come in. “Event marketers will need to give people an experience they can’t get anywhere else,” Russell says.
A New York Times article reports that advertisers rediscovered experiential marketing at the Academy Awards. “…a lengthy list of advertisers is putting on events in Los Angeles as part of a trend, increasingly popular on Madison Avenue, known as experiential marketing. The concept is to offer consumers tangible ways to connect with brands, in a belief that such engagement is more likely to stimulate positive word of mouth and discussion in social media.”
As digital opportunities continue to permeate the marketing landscape, marketing professionals must continue to integrate them into their face-to-face encounters and extend the experience.
Up with originality, innovation and authenticity
Simply recycling generic ideas that others have implemented is a trend that will diminish out of business necessity. “We have the ability to create any kind of experience, today’s technology is making that possible,” Russell says.
However, we continue to caution our clients not to base their exhibit or event around a technology just because it’s the latest and greatest. You need to be aware of what’s new and available to your exhibit program, but, ultimately, you’re creating an experience for your visitors. Experiences that engage audiences while remaining relevant to brand goals.
An example is a disease simulator Russell developed that gave doctors a feeling of what it’s like to have the diseases they treat.
Bringing online experiences to life
Experiences that people are already drawn to—online or on screen—will increasingly be brought into a live, three-dimensional setting.
A great example of this is the when T-Mobile took Angry Birds, the wildly-popular-but-stuck-in-2-D game, and made it a real-life experience. “This kind of live encounter gives people an authentic reason to say, ‘You had to be there',” Russell says.
Creating reasons for audiences to get more social
With the increased use of mobile phones, people are constantly connected to their online communities. To be relevant, you need to give people something to spread to their social networks. “It's not just about building a structure and people showing up. It's about motivating them to take out their cell phones and share the experience with everyone they know,” Russell notes.
This example captures exactly how to get an audience in a very social frame of mind. A digital billboard in Times Square featured models interacting with the crowd in the street using innovative computer vision technology. The models snapped pictures of people on the street, then picked them up, kissed them, put them in their bags, and more. The crowd was further engaged with a live feed featuring tweets that mentioned both the Forever 21 brand name and the word “love.” Take a look at how many cameras and cell phones are in every shot.
Fabric takes front row
A face-to-face event will always require human beings with a physical space to meet. We're continuing to shift from hard structure to fabric, because it's lightweight and installs quickly. This allows marketers to do more with less. Russell adds, “We are deploying an increased use of large-span fabric due to its visual impact, aesthetic seamlessness, and efficiencies in cost.”
Data driven, personalized experiences
The right kind of data visibility can give event attendees a kind of “superpower” to understand where relevant opportunities might exist in the environment. To do this, environments will require the capture, refinement, and display of “Big Data” to allow visitors to self-tailor their own experience.
Russell laughs. “Imagine an environment where you are able to identify that person next to you is the world’s expert on precisely the subject you need an expert on.”
The design of The HUB, by Peter Raymond, takes an experience that exists in the private or virtual world and pulls it into a three-dimensional, live setting. Event-relevant data is displayed it for everyone to see and use. The architecture is merely the “container” for the real content.
Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” This statement rings true now more than ever. “There is a tremendous opportunity to deliver unique face-to-face experiences that make people get up from their computer, get on a plane and go to the show,” Russell says. “The important part is identifying your objective, then developing the unique experience that gets you to that desired outcome.”
Editor's Note: Russell will be presenting a seminar at EXHIBITOR2014, “Employing Sensory Simulation in Face-to-Face Marketing,” Tuesday, March 18 at 3:45pm.
This year at EXHIBITOR show, MC2 will be at booth #1231. We are inviting attendees to “Step Into Our World” – a world of future possibilities – and tell us their dreams. We hope we will see you there!