The last event of 24 Seven’s 2018 Techfluence Innovation Series, was held at our New York City headquarters with a focus on Content & Commerce, in collaboration with The Ember Company, and Davis & Gilbert, LLP. Our panelists included Bobby Singh, Head of Digital, BET/Viacom, Andrew Kilbourn, Head of Experiential Activation, Conde Nast, Ariane Goldman, Founder, HATCH and Allison Fitzpatrick, Partner, Davis & Gilbert, LLP and the panel was moderated by Avani Patel, Partner, The Ember Company. Topics ranged from the changing consumer landscape to the importance of creating a sense of community and investing in experiences to set your brand apart.
How has the role of experiential marketing changed?
All panelists agreed experiential marketing is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s critical for brands to create meaningful interactions with consumers. Andrew Kilbourn noted, “Consumers want to feel valued and that brands genuinely care about them – this will increase customer retention. Consumers are loyal to brands that return loyalty.” Historically, Conde Nast had no clear strategy with their events; they’ve since changed their approach and are now focused on building mini businesses within their portfolio of brands to build communities. Another key pillar of their strategy is asking for consumer feedback and implementing that feedback as part of their mission.
Ariane Goldman founded HATCH because she noticed a gap in the market, there wasn’t a community or platform providing advice for pregnant women. After years of not focusing major efforts on social media, Ariane finally changed her marketing model and saw her business explode. Her focus is on making sure her audience feels heard and knows that their needs are being heard. She recently opened HATCH’s first brick-and-mortar location on Bleecker Street and their second location in Brentwood, LA, opened last week. She attributes her success to a commitment to fostering a community experience.
Creating a successful experience
Bobby Singh shared that incorporating the latest technology can make for a much more seamless event experience. At BET, they use RFID technology for their event check-ins and have incorporated other tools to help track the ROI of their activations. Before committing to an event, you must ask, “What is the potential Brand Lift?” Will this help me elevate my brand and will it resonate with my target audience? Singh noted that “communities will know immediately if you’re being inauthentic.”
Coming back to the notion of serving your audience’s needs, Kilbourn said a priority for Conde Nast is to use consumer data to influence their event strategy. They have invested in a tool that helps capture meaningful UGC (User-Generated Content); according to Kilbourn, “there is so much value in understanding consumer data.”
As for tracking success, Goldman made the point that when it comes to community building, some ROI won’t be measurable at first, “but if you believe in the message and have the bandwidth to take a chance, the right audience will pay it forward.”
Are influencers a linchpin to this strategy?
On the topic of influencers, the panelists had mixed feelings about how to successfully incorporate them into your strategy. Kilbourn used the example of Goop as a female-focused brand that found success with community building. But he said to “keep in mind that once the consumer thinks you’re trying to sell them something, your strategy could fall apart.” It comes back to authenticity.
Goldman found that for HATCH, paid influencers didn’t generate the intended ROI. Rather they utilize micro-influencers, real women with a small, but dedicated following. Having real consumers represent and speak to their brand is not only insanely impactful, but much cheaper to maintain.