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No Brand Story is complete without creating consumer experiences: Surendra Singh

Brands need to move from monologues to actions and experiential marketing is the best way to do so writes Surendra Singh, Chief Business Officer, Brand Street Integrated.

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How often we have looked intently the moment someone says- let me tell you a story. Right from childhood, stories are human love- something that takes them away from the atrocities of the present and paints a world of their imagination. Just like humans, every brand has a story to tell. It waves an engaging narrative about brands’ history, values and purpose, and future ideas. This story also sets them apart from competitors.

Despite so much importance, the traditional form of storytelling (a mix of brand collaterals on print, digital, OOH) sees lower engagement because it requires consumers to parse through heaps of information before they make their decision to get along with a brand.

Simply put, brand storytelling through traditional means is ineffective in the modern, hyper-connected world. They know more, expect more and are spoilt for choices, all at their fingertips. So, brands now need to work harder to engage customers at a deeper level to foster long-term loyalty. In other words, brands need to move on from monologues to actions, from storytelling to story-living.

Beyond a monologue

Experiential marketing enables consumers to experience a brand, more than being told about it. As they get a role to play and a stage on which to play it, they learn about the brand's ethos and ecosystem. It offers a framework in which consumers can construct a ‘living narrative’ which is played out through their interactions at every touchpoint.

As brand touchpoints evolve, with new technologies and devices being introduced, brands can seek unprecedented levels of engagement. For example, payments company Mastercard has a tagline- ‘There are things money can’t buy. For everything else, there is a 'Mastercard'. To validate this tagline, the company runs a campaign called Priceless. Under this campaign, Mastercard cardholders get access to some of the most exclusive experiences in over 40 cities. One such experience could be priority access to a couple dinner on top of Eiffel Tower (which could take months of booking queue). Such an experience could create a long-lasting memory for a cardholder and will make him a true Mastercard experience. In another example, the state of Odisha, which has about 485 kilometers of coastline, 1100 plus temple, sand art, handicraft, and remains of some of the oldest civilizations, was often not on the bucket list of Indian as well as international travel junkies. To change this perception, recently, the Government of Odisha set up a beach side 100 days experiential carnival in Konark. The visitors had a chance to spend days in luxury huts set on the beautiful white sand beach in Konark, less than 5 km away from the famous Sun Temple and 50 km from Jagannathpuri temple. They could also savor the choicest of local and international cuisine, art and craft, and get to know the state like never before. As a result, the state witnessed a significant jump in the footfall in Konark and Puri. It also expects to double the number of domestic and international tourists over the next five years. Now imagine if the same could be possible through traditional print, digital, and OOH campaigns?

Social living and storytelling

The convergence of physical and digital worlds is set to see huge developments over the next few years. It makes consumers both creators and critics. Hence, they demand more personalized experiences in order to shape the products and services they consume. The livestream trend has been bolstered by Facebook and Instagram’s live-streaming and Twitter’s Periscope function. However, in order to fully immerse consumers, combining livestreaming with 360-degree technologies is a must. By enabling consumers to engage with a live event as and when they choose, in both the physical and digital landscapes, brands can create a highly personalized, on-demand experience.

The low cost and high accessibility of social media and other technologies also means that businesses of any size (corporates, startups, MSMEs) and from any industry can deploy experiential marketing.

Experiential marketing provides marketers with a measurable impact, since ROI from live experiences is about the ability to track every step of the customer journey. It brings consumer traffic into the physical world, where personal interactions can capture valuable insights. These insights enable a two-way conversation across every subsequent engagement. Therefore, marketers now consider experiential marketing as a way to create loving memories for consumers even after the campaign concludes.


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