Are You Experienced?

May 29, 2018

It’s getting more difficult to break through the noise and get the attention of consumers. As marketers, how do we get past that and inspire our consumers? One word my friends: experiential.

Experiential is something more brands are considering as part of their marketing mix. When done right, experiential can be a powerful way to build awareness. It has the ability to spark emotions that can create lasting affinity for a brand.

Our team here at Fast Horse is passionate about experiential and lights up over the opportunity to build an innovative experiential campaign. We think not only about the experiential execution but how it’s amplified and integrated into a larger campaign.

I interviewed a couple experiential experts on our team – Daniella Keith (Experiential Producer) and Laurel Osman (Experiential Director) — about their experiences in experiential. They made it sound like the awesome ride that it is.

Q: Why Is Experiential Marketing Important?  
A: Daniella: XE is super important because it is the ultimate way to connect with your consumers and create brand advocates. It is associating senses and feelings to a specific product. Once you’re able to establish that one-on-one connection, then you have turned a consumer into a long-term believer in your product. If used within an amplified strategy, including social, digital, content, influencers, media relations, etc., it can really cause some ripples.

Q: How Did You End up In the Crazy World Of Experiential?
A: Laurel: I have a performing arts background, but I’ve always considered myself a marketer first.  Enter experiential: the perfect marriage of performance + marketing.  Prior to Fast Horse, I worked client-side in a variety of roles, creating a variety of activations from multiday conferences and training sessions to intimate soirees to PR stunts. Eventually, I landed as the Director of Taste of Home LIVE, a 250-market annual event series. At Taste of Home, I worked with brands like Kenmore, General Mills, Johnsonville Sausage and Eggland’s Best Eggs. I loved my time at Taste of Home, where I got to fine-tune my skill for designing experiences that captivated people and authentically introduced them to brands. Now at Fast Horse, I have the great pleasure of doing that for a broad mix of clients and industries.

Q: What Is Your Favorite Part In the Experiential Process?
A: Daniella: All of it really. I love the creative process of brainstorming and coming up with giant ideas, thinking big about all the possibilities. Then budgeting and timelines kick in and I really, really love making those numbers work (kinda weird, I know). There is no better feeling than hitting that Sum button and hitting goal number. And then actually getting to execute, bringing all of the elements to life and seeing the client’s reaction.

Q: What Makes You Passionate About Experiential Marketing?
A: Laurel: Experiential is a blend of right brain and left brain thinking. We get to be creative, but we also get to be analytical. Experiential is a mix of strategic and tactical work. We look at projects from 50,000 feet all the way down to the carpet (literally). There aren’t many roles that will stretch you to view projects as holistically as we get to do.

Q: Is There a Project That You Have Worked On Recently That You Are Particularly Proud Of? Why?
A: Daniella: I am really proud of all the work that our XE team at Fast Horse has created in the past. Every single event is so different in nature that it is very difficult to compare them. Most recently, working on the Mentos campaign, which was an INSANE production with so much of our Fast Horse staff setting up camp in Madison for over two weeks. But honestly, if at the end of the activation I can look back and feel like I had fun producing it, and that the clients are happy with the results, that’s everything to me.

Q: How Can a Brand Benefit From Experiential Marketing?
A: Daniella: Experiential marketing is a great tactic as part of a larger strategy that includes amplification elements. It’s the old “If a tree falls and no one hears it” conundrum. If you create an experience and it doesn’t go beyond the people physically at the space, then did it really happen? At Fast Horse, this is our motto and we make sure that all of our plans have layers of amplification strategies so that it lives beyond the physical activation.

Q: Are There Any Experiential Trends That Stand Out To You Right Now?  
A: Laurel: We’re seeing brands create scalable experiences that extend their activations beyond a single event. AdAge has a great article that calls out the difference between “perishable” events and a “sustainable” approach to experiential. We’ve believed sustainable is the right approach to experiential for a long time at Fast Horse, although we’ll argue that our approach makes experiences scalable far beyond what the AdAge article cites. At Fast Horse, we believe an idea must be amplifiable at its core in order to scale to a level that makes an impact far beyond those who are able to attend something in person. We work with our collaborative team that includes media, social, digital, design and more to create an integrated campaign that may be rooted in experiential but has the capacity to grow far beyond a single event.

Q: What Do You Think is the Biggest Misperception About Experiential Marketing?
A: Daniella: Two things: 1) That experiential producers are event planners. Yes, that’s part of it, but it is so much more comprehensive and strategic than that. 2) That everything costs less and takes less time than in actually does. We believe that everything is scalable and we can work with any budget to make something impactful, but production timelines and materials are two things we always need to consider to ensure budgets and timelines are kept under control throughout the process.

Q: What Is One Piece of Advice You Would Like To Leave For Readers On This Topic?
A: Daniella: Be organized. If you are thinking about planning an experience, Excel spreadsheets and daily checklists are your best friend.