Unlike traditional forms of advertising, experiential marketing is distinctively bespoke, yet it still needs to deliver campaigns that are “on-brand”, within the client’s budget and wow the desired target audience into becoming loyal consumers. Piece of cake. Can-do-attitude in hand, there are only two things that an experiential provider needs in order to pull an “all-singing-all-dancing” experiential campaign out of the bag: Time and Information.
In order to deliver campaigns that fulfil clients’ requirements, experiential providers need good, thorough briefs. Because of the bespoke nature, the level of detail required in planning an experiential campaign is often very high and without this detail early on in the planning stage experiential providers often find themselves filling in the gaps in order to pull experiential proposals from their big, black experiential-hat.
As a result, many experiential providers end up spending a lot of time on compiling complex and creative responses to briefs which don’t match the client’s actual requirements. This means wasting a lot of time and resources and leaves both parties drifting in different directions.
To avoid wasting unnecessary time and potentially creating a barrier to activating an exciting experiential campaign the key lies with accurate qualification of an experiential brief from the offset.
Where do these incomplete experiential briefs come from?
In the most extreme cases of briefing an experiential provider, the message will possibly pass through as many as four sets of ears, with details travelling from a brand to the appointed lead agency, who may refer to a media agency, who in turn appoints an outdoor specialist. In this case the experiential provider is several steps removed from the client.
It is much like that “Chinese Whispers Game” you remember from childhood birthday parties. So it is unsurprising really when messages turn from “Send re-enforcements – we’re going to advance.” into “Send Three and four pence – we’re going to a dance!”
How do we go about avoiding unnecessary work on an incomplete brief?
The critical point at which providers could halt a lot of unnecessary and resource-intensive work dead in its steps is the moment at which the brief is received.
In order to ensure that the experiential brief contains sufficient information and that the client in question has the information required to seriously considers an experiential campaign, it is vital to first qualify any incoming experiential brief.
Qualifying an experiential brief is not Rocket Science: All you have to do is ask – literally.
As experiential providers we need to make the initial process of gathering all the information necessary for us to do our jobs well as easy and accurate as possible. As a first step we have therefore devised a very detailed briefing form, which we ask our client service team to fill in on behalf of their client or agency. This document asks for all the information we need in order to put together a wow-factor proposal, including:
- the business context
- the objectives
- their evaluation (how will the campaign be measured or reported?)
- wider campaign integration
- the target audience
- campaign timings
- any existing client assets that can be used
- any mandatories or constraints that need to be considered.
Should I really be asking this?
There is one over-riding concern for experiential providers in asking for information: An industry-mentality of needing to demonstrate that all important insight, knowledge and “can-do-attitude”. Whilst this is very admirable of course, it also implies that many experiential providers and agencies think that they cannot ask their client to spend time gathering the critical information.
By providing the details required clients and agencies are rewarded with creative campaign ideas and costings which are tailor-made to fit their brand, budget and message to the tee.
But there’s more
Having recognised that barriers to the planning and activation of experiential campaigns could be avoided at the briefing stage, we have put together a unique experiential training course that addresses this and resulting issues, exploring how to improve things for both clients and experiential providers. In an effort to share our insight, knowledge and learnings in the hope to improve our industry and the way experiential marketing is handled, we offer our interactive workshop to clients and agencies that don’t deal with experiential marketing on a daily basis.
Feedback from course participants to date has been outstanding and as a result of taking the time to explain the need for a detailed briefing stage when considering an experiential campaign, we have subsequently received many well thought-through briefs, which provide us with the complete picture of what is required.
So the next time you provide or receive an experiential brief think about the necessity for detail. Information is power. In this case it’s the information to effectively enable further growth and improved results from our burgeoning industry and the power to provide the client with exactly what they are looking for in their experiential campaign.
Written by Miriam Kuhn, Marketing Manager – first published in the Institute of Promotional Marketing’s White Book 2012