BtoB: Many marketers define experiential marketing in different ways. How do you define it?
Binford: Experiential marketing is all about creating unique sensory intersections between a product or brand and the emotions or aspirations of an individual customer or prospective customer. By creating these emotional touch points, customers and prospective customers are then engaged to build a distinctive and personal relationship with the brand or product.
BtoB: Do you think that it's ultimately a more effective way of marketing in an event setting?
Binford: In today's communications-rich economy, customers are actively seeking new stimuli, and emotions are the most powerful of all of these. Creating intensive, full-sensory experiences in turn drives emotions in each of us. Emotional intensity is what distinguishes one experience from another-our very human nature is one that craves emotional intensity. Creating emotional intensity through events is what ultimately drives action. Events that drive action on behalf of participants drive business.
BtoB: Are there any drawbacks for companies to be wary of before beginning a project like this?
Binford: Creating and executing events that successfully result in distinctive and memorable experiences typically requires deeper engagement and finer attention to detail throughout the planning and execution process. And the most powerful events attempt to stimulate as many senses as possible. This often challenges the marketer to consider and influence not only the message delivered but in fact the total environment in which it is delivered. In an event setting, this may mean not only addressing the content and audiovisual aspects of a given message presentation but in fact a whole range of additional considerations ranging from design and comfort of seating, to volume and tempo of "walk-in" music, to the visuals attendees interact prior to entering the room, to the smells that they encounter throughout the presentation, etc. Thus, to maximize the experiential impact, many more elements can be required. This can increase costs in some cases.
BtoB: Can you provide some tips for first-time experiential marketers?
Binford: The most important element to creating truly successful experiences that drive business results is to be clear at the outset on what the desired emotional outcomes among your targeted audiences are. This is often a challenge for many. Organizations typically focus on defining the desired action outcomes from any event, but often don't take the time to define first the emotions that will in fact drive those actions. With a clear focus on first creating the emotions that will in turn drive desired actions, companies can often find clarity in working to define the experiential elements necessary to deliver the results.