Many otherwise marketing-savvy companies overlook the enormous power of experiential marketing. This is largely because experiential marketing is only a few decades old; meanwhile, radio and television have been around for longer, and print advertising is a centuries-old institution.
As a result, experiential marketing budgets at some companies exist only on a shoestring level. So marketing executives – constrained by these miniscule budgets – often launch an experiential marketing campaign without the resources to conduct in-depth post-campaign research. And yet the lack of thorough post-campaign research does more harm than good over the long-term; ultimately, the failure to execute rigorous post-campaign research is a costly mistake.
But why exactly is there a need for post-campaign research beyond the usual attendee surveys – which are frequently completed immediately after a live brand experience? Aren’t these basic evaluations enough? A lot of marketing professionals seem to think so. But they are wrong.
Extensive post-campaign research is imperative if a company is to improve the performance of its experiential campaigns, year after year. Attendee evaluations and surveys are useful, but they don’t always predict the long-term impact of the overall experiential campaign; to understand the far-reaching effects of an experiential strategy, in-depth post-campaign research is critical – and it must be carried out weeks and months after the live experience, not immediately after it.
For example, attendee attitudes can be measured in the months after the live brand experience (by collecting attendee contact information during the event, then creating a dedicated outreach campaign) – thereby determining if there has been any significant change in attitudes, and whether those changes are positive or negative. Sales volumes in the months after the live brand experience can also be compared to the sales volume prior to the experience – showing if the experiential campaign has had a direct effect on sales.
The problem here is that many marketing professionals and managers are treating live brand experiences as if they are short-term tactical approaches to temporarily conquer a larger piece of the market share – yet the whole point of experiential marketing (and where it really turns a brand into a real power to contend with) is to build brand equity and increase ROI over the long-term. Those who do not adopt this perspective switch may see some tactical success with their experiential marketing efforts, but they will never be a competitive force to reckon with compared to those who wield experiential marketing with a long-term focus – and to do that, you need to allocate sufficient resources to post-campaign research and intelligence.