Creating Insight-Driven Experiences To Build Brands

05/19/2015 05:36 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2016

A buzz-worthy and breakthrough ad campaign can seem like pure magic, belying the rigor behind the concept. Account planners and strategists mine the psyches of their target audiences to unearth insights that the creative team uses as the foundation to inform their ideas. However, this same kind of rigor doesn't always extend to other marketing disciplines. When it comes to experiential marketing, many brands and agencies spent a lot of time and energy thinking through the experience they want to create and neglect to give equal weight to considering the experience their consumers want to have. Tapping insights can help architect an experience that feels like a moment of kismet, adding dimension to the brand and bringing it to life in a way no other medium can.

Right time, right place
When designing a live experience, key drivers might include sales cycles, campaign calendars or launches of new initiatives or products. These are all important considerations but its critical to also factor in when and where your consumer will be most receptive to engage. Are they rushing from place to place or will they have dwell time? Are you providing something value? These can be tangible things, such as access to an exclusive location, experience or person or intangibles, such as enhanced social status or just a really great story. Spending time in the consumers' shoes will help inform the right strategy.

Details, details, details
We are multi-sensory beings and experiences that engage the senses on multiple levels are simply more interesting and memorable. Many brands regularly invest in ethnographic research and other data points to paint a detailed and rich picture of their target audience, often down to what they wear, how they decorate their homes, their favorite food, music, hobbies and vacation spots. This is all helpful fodder to inform creation of an experience that will both feel authentic and resonate deeply - from the design of the environment and decor to refreshments and music to digital engagements. Walking into an experience that is reflective of your own tastes (or the taste you aspire to) is like meeting a person you instantly click with. The moment of recognition is compelling, emotional and memorable. A great experience tells your audience everything they need to know about your brand that can't be conveyed solely in words while providing them with the tools they need to authentically share it with others.

Igniting conversation
Brands invest in creating live experiences because they do far more than just engage the people in the room. The advent of social media has made the reach of any experience seemingly unlimited, but igniting conversation requires much more than a clever hashtag. Depending on the demographics and psychographics of your target audience the drivers to get them to amplify their experience can be dramatically different, not to mention which channels they use. With all the data readily available, understanding how to authentically bake social sharing drivers into your experience in a way that resonates with your consumers is right at your fingertips. There's simply no excuse for not getting it right.

As Raja Rajamannar, CMO of MasterCard, has noted in interviews and speeches:
"People are hungry for unforgettable experiences." What is unforgettable? That depends on the audience and understanding what that means for yours is a critical component to ensuring that the experience you create truly hits the mark.