Why face-to-face experiences are the ultimate way to get intimate with your audience.
Face-to-face does what online cannot. While online experiences and campaigns big up their brand with convoluted and hyperbolic fanfare, waxing lyrical about how groundbreaking their product is, face-to-face proves it.
Think of virtual campaigns like online dating. Sure, you can make yourself look like the sexiest, “living your best life” version of yourself in an online profile. But in person, you get the real and (here’s everyone’s buzzword of the decade) “authentic” version. You get the whole picture, hairy toes and all.
Ok, so we don’t want people to necessarily play with your hairy toes if we’re running with that analogy. But we want them to fall in love with your brand exactly as you are and how you show up.
Face-to-face marketing allows creatives to get clever and to entertain. Every brand makes bold claims about how they’re humourous, friendly, playful, with a wry smile, wink, wink: yadda, yadda, yadda. So the challenge is how do you deliver that personality to people in an enjoyable, viscerally unexpected way?
There’s always a barrier to why people don’t buy brand stuff, otherwise, they wouldn’t need advertising agencies. Brilliant experiential marketing finds that hang-up and spins it into a shrewd strategy that helps smash down those barriers piece by piece.
We disrupt usual behaviours and experiences with something surprising. People are cynical about brands and marketing in general. A savvy experience disrupts people, so they’re not even aware we’re marketing at them.
Take behavioural flux, for example. People like escapism. They respond differently to brands in unique situations. Go to a festival, and what might be frowned upon in regular, sophisticated society (like a breakfast beer) is suddenly no biggie. All bets are off, and face-to-face brand experiences take advantage of that understanding and run with it. We adapt their brand characteristics so they’re relevant, surprising, and, most importantly, memorable. It’s fun. And it works.
And perhaps that’s part of the problem – it feels like we can’t have fun with brands anymore. But go into any big department store, and it’s like being in a sweet shop – it’s exciting! Yes, you can browse online and find the product you think you need. But let’s be honest, has anyone ever bought anything off Instagram or TikTok that wasn’t rubbish? Getting people to touch, play, sniff, flick, kick, and heck, even lick your product if they want to and confirm they love it is heaps better.
With the emerging digital landscapes, companies are piling their budgets into social and virtual experiences with meagre amounts into face-to-face. I, for one, am trying to understand why experiential is getting overlooked. Take the metaverse, for example - it feels like a big old room with no one in it. That “unstoppable” movement into the online world has faltered.
You can’t replicate taste in the metaverse. Have you seen any virtual pubs? No. Why? Because not only do people go to taste, smell and enjoy the drink and food, but they go to hang out in person with their mates. They go to LAUGH. Laughter is infectious, feel-good joy. That sounds like a perfect feeling to associate with a brand.
Face-to-face gives instant gratification on a huge scale peppered with little moments of bliss. It gives people the power of choice. It offers money-can’t-buy opportunities, and THAT is what imprints into people’s memories and stays with them. Create those memories around your brand, and you’re winning.
But good god, don’t do it badly. Bad experiences leave a bad taste. We’ve all seen or even been on those car crash dates where the promised perfect partner turns up and looks nothing like their online profile, plus they have the social awareness of a mosquito. Brands that lack the ability to read people and their behaviours make poor experiences. A spin-to-win is not a good opener on any first date! Don’t be cringy. It’s like watching Fred Sirieix try and rescue a poor soul from the worst date of their lives.
So no more handing out samples to any Tom, Dick or Harry, hoping something sticks. Face-to-face gives you the freedom to find innovative ways to engage at precisely the right time in ways that matter. God forbid, you might become relevant.
Retailers, festivals, conferences – whatever your game is - you all have venues that provide an organic, built-in stage to show off your brands. So let’s entertain people. And embrace those hairy toes.