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Experiential Essays: Blazinstar Experiential - Integration is key

A new creative model shows how traditional channels can amplify brand experiences.

Experience has become the preferred currency utilised by brands who create meaningful platforms for engagement with their target audiences, and innovative campaigns that stand out from the crowd. Live brand experiences are generating brand advocacy, word of mouth, and, in some cases, every marketer's dream: brand evangelism. The experiences are two-way interactions between a brand and target audiences and can be successful across events, as well as many interactive technologies and platforms, facilitating communication between consumers and brands in real time.

At Blazinstar Experiential, we advocate integrated experiential marketing, a methodology that seamlessly weaves the traditional channels to amplify the reach of the content generated from live brand experiences (placed at the core of the campaign creative).

Live brand experiences, inspired by the core personality attributes authentic to the brand, are word-of-mouth drivers that can touch the hearts and minds of all target audiences, when applied in a personally meaningful and relevant way. It is no wonder that when content is captured and amplified via channels with broader reach, consumers react positively and the campaign can create an impact as high profile as topical cultural events and topics discussed on the evening news.

PR amplification, the use of video and photos from the experience to produce ad creative, social media and user-generated content, can all work hand in hand to form the integrated experiential marketing campaign.

Creating the right ideas for your brand's live brand experience is crucial. Often where agencies go wrong is they propose product-led experiences that don't bring to life the brand personality, or provide amplification ideas to achieve high reach. My book, Experiential Marketing - a Practical Guide to Live Brand Experiences, is structured around Blazinstar Experiential's tried-and-tested planning models, and one of the best is the 'BETTER' model.

The BETTER creative brainstorming technique is designed to generate brandand target audience-relevant live brand experiences, to form the core of integrated experiential marketing campaigns. The BETTER brainstorm model is featured as part of the 'Experiential Meets Digital' Master's degree, which Blazinstar co-developed with London Metropolitan University (the UK's first degree on experiential marketing).

By following the prescribed steps in each of the model's stages, one can be confident that the creative ideas tick the necessary boxes. The BETTER model is an acronym: Brand Personality, Emotional Connection, Target Audience, Two-way Interaction, Exponential Element and Reach.

Initially, we look at the Brand Personality - two or three values that sum up its human-like characteristics - then look at how to create an Emotional Connection via multi-sensory elements and ideas that are authentic and personally meaningful. In the Target Audience phase, we complete a 'day-in-the-life analysis'. We research what they like, their lifestyle, aspirations and the time they have available. This analysis identifies when and where to engage.

The first three stages are mind mapped and expanded to generate creative seeds that can be worked up into fuller live brand experience concepts in the Two-Way Interaction stage, where we create an interactive experience to be executed face to face, or remotely, in real time.

Exponential Elements are word-of-mouth triggers, built in to stimulate conversation, plus the sharing of the experience and its content.

Finally, we look at ways in which engaging and brand-relevant content can be extracted from the experience, and integrate channels - such as social media, PR and the use of video and photography for TV, outdoor, digital and print ad creative - to expand the Reach of the experience.

In an era where competition is stiff, brands that place an integrated experiential marketing methodology at the heart of their marketing communications strategy differentiate themselves, generating fantastic ROI. Companies who have been dedicating significant resources into this approach for some time include Red Bull, Smirnoff, Nike and T-Mobile.

To secure the lifetime value of your customers by creating brand advocacy, you must create a positive brand experience, and amplify it effectively. Many brands around the world have started to use the BETTER brainstorm model to generate the big campaign idea, placing live brand experiences at the core of their campaigns and using amplification channels to extend reach. They have reported great results, generating greater ROI and advocacy.

The new marketing era, the integrated experiential marketing era, focuses on providing target audiences with campaigns built around branded experiences that add value to their lives, and ultimately generate brand advocacy and positive word of mouth. Experiential marketing is a methodology that is fast revolutionising the face of marketing communications as we know it.

Shaz Smilansky is creative director of Blazinstar Experiential

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