An expert take on effective experiential marketing in 2019 | The Concierge Club – Ad Age

In a world overflowing with distraction and diluted with competition, it’s becoming harder and harder for businesses to connect with customers online. Today more than ever, brands need to step outside the digital box and find fresh ways to surprise and delight consumers in real, authentic ways. Experiential marketing has been climbing to the top of the brand-world totem pole for a few years now and shows no signs of slowing down. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the event industry will grow by 44 percent from 2010 until 2020, and for good reason: 98 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to buy a product after attending an activation. Whether a company lives online, in brick-and-mortar or somewhere in between, in-person events carry the potential to leave a lasting impression on customers, whose attention has become a true commodity. But it’s not just about throwing a great party anymore. If businesses want to bond with their audience in a genuine way, they have to solve a problem and provide real value that customers can take home.

Heading into 2019, marketers need to think big and give customers a reason to engage. Markets are saturated and most consumers are in a perpetual state of sensory overload. To capture their attention, brands will need to make a big splash. The Concierge Club recently launched a “Zero Gravity Room” to get consumers excited about the HP Sprocket 200 photo printer. The highly Instagrammable experience allowed visitors to snap and print photos with the device while posing in a curated upside-down room. The Gravity Room had the wow factor to spark organic conversation, boost social sharing and invigorate online sales for the new product. We hired Toronto Raptor Danny Green to conduct a meet and greet with fans and drive awareness for the activation. As a result, expected turnout quadrupled and we secured nearly half a million impressions, plus it gained top-tier coverage on Canadian sports network TSN online. This unique, carefully curated experience is the kind of value brands should aim for to deliver customers to get them excited, drive product sales and win the experiential marketing game.

I launched The Concierge Club in 2011 to fill a white space in Canada’s premium events industry. From the beginning, my goal has been to curate full-service, exceptional events for top-tier clients, at any budget and always with a bold vision. With every activation we execute, the objective is clear: to exceed our client’s expectations and deliver tangible results.

Over the holidays, The Concierge Club helped to create an engaging activation for Sephora Canada with a memorable festive-themed experience. The Sephora Holiday Cabin showcased the brand’s holiday collection to the country’s top media and influencers. When attendees stepped inside the activation, they enjoyed a family-style dining room setting, fireside lounge, custom photo op and an indoor forest display with artificial falling snow. A live jazz band also entertained guests while they explored the brand’s offerings and enjoyed an expertly crafted holiday menu.

Another holiday activation The Concierge Club spearheaded was the Gift Wrap Valet program, now in its second year, for Canadian commercial real estate giant Cadillac Fairview. The reason the initiative has been so effective is twofold: Not only are shoppers given the luxury of being able to drop off their gifts and sidestep the mess of wrapping paper and ribbon, they’re able to stay connected through the entire process and are updated as soon as their gifts are ready. A custom-made app tracks the status of their package from drop-off to finished product, and pings the customer once it’s ready to be picked up. The result? A seamless, thoroughly painless experience executed entirely by The Concierge Club. The agency effectively eliminates the stress of gift-wrapping for consumers, freeing up their time to peruse the mall with one less item on their holiday checklist. At the same time, it allows users to stay connected and in control. This kind of marketing-as-a-service approach establishes a connection between business and consumer and leaves them walking away with a positive impression of a reliable brand, setting the stage for future engagement.

In today’s marketing landscape, building loyalty is all about authentic storytelling, and there are high-tech tools at every company’s disposal to take those stories to the next level. By leveraging available technology, brands can succeed at delivering a more personalized and connected experience. Another project we spearheaded was the Olympic Viewing Hubs that leveraged technology to create a service with an elevated experience. Capitalizing on 2018 Olympic fever, The Concierge Club pooled our highest-tech resources to launch next-level screening spaces at 23 Cadillac Fairview properties, effectively branding these locations as the “Home of Team Canada.”

It may sound simple, but these hubs weren’t just a collection of chairs cobbled together around a screen. The dedicated spaces were decked out with features like LED touch walls, animatronic running mannequins and multi-screen displays—and the efforts paid off. We knocked the industry standard dwell time out of the park; we were able to pull off an average time spent in the activation of 14 minutes, not to mention attract millions of visitors. It may sound like a contradiction, but in today’s uber-connected landscape, technology has the potential to help brands offer a more human experience for customers.

As important as the effective use of technology and artificial intelligence will be for experiential marketing going forward, it’s just one detail. As many brands begin to de-emphasize overreliance on digital marketing—which has become more challenging in the age of privacy-compliance laws like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR—there will be a natural return to in-person interaction between business and consumer. Call it a boomerang effect, but real-time, face-to-face events are now an essential part of any holistic marketing strategy—and ultimately what people today crave. The more connected our world becomes, the more we look for authentic emotional connection, and businesses are going to get further faster by delivering personalized experiences than they ever could with a digital billboard ad.

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