ANDREW AKUFFO, THE MINISTRY OF SOUND’S DIRECTOR OF EVENTS AND BRAND, SAYS THAT THE ABSOLUTE BEST WAY TO CONNECT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE AND IMPROVE ROI IS WITH EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING.
His proof? “London is saturated with experiential,” so he’s had plenty of first-hand experience. According to Akuffo, social media is slated to take experiential out of “just” London where it’s been heavily concentrated. He says marketing is challenging no matter what, but particularly with market uncertainty. “People tend to think that it’s (marketing) something they can pause as they consider their options.” That’s not the case. Instead, he urges marketers to embrace experiential to build audience relationships with a “tactile moment.”
He considers experiential the most influential approach. It’s an answer during uncertain times. However, “experiential should always be part of a larger mix that includes a multi-platform execution.” It’s a part of the whole, a major part, but doesn’t operate solo. There’s plenty people can get and do with social and on the digital landscape, but without that tactile moment they don’t really connect with a brand. Akuffo recommends bringing all elements of marketing together including technology. He’s skeptical about VR. “I’m conscious not to jump on things because it’s the bandwagon,” he says. However, if it makes the most sense for the audience and tells the right story, it can be a powerful tool. He’s also quick to point out the diversification trend. “A lot of smart brands” are doing this, he says, such as Virgin. Brands are “taking the core proposition and core values and then transporting that onto new ventures.”
“EXPERIENTIAL SHOULD ALWAYS BE PART OF A LARGER MIX THAT INCLUDES A MULTI-PLATFORM EXECUTION.”
Recently, the Ministry of Sound launched Ministry Does Fitness. The lifestyle brand offers an actual studio space for high-intensity interval training and up to 28 people can attend each class. Body weight exercise classes are offered outside. It’s part fitness, part night club, and has already proven to be quite popular. “The story behind it is, when you go to the gym these days, it is much more experiential,” he explains. It’s not just about getting in your workout. Feeling like part of a lifestyle movement is
What an Experience!
Of course, experiential marketing can cost much more than traditional marketing techniques. “TV has always been safe,” he explains. It’s easy to sell to budget committees because you can imagine how many eyes will see it. Digital is also similarly accountable. It’s clear where the money is going. Experiential can be tough to quantify, even though top marketing executives know it works. When launching such a campaign, he stresses the importance of tracking effectiveness and include that in the budget. “Then you can start to really understand the connections that are made and the influence of the great experience that you can provide for your customers.”
Still, there are no widely accepted means of tracking these items. For Akuffo, social media is a major tracking tool. “We have a bunch of tools that our social media team use to look at equity and where we are strong and what people are saying about our brand at the moment,” he says. However, he’s confident more than be done in this area.
This takes an overall shift in thinking when it comes to experiential marketing. Akuffo says it’s not taken as seriously as traditional marketing. He likens it to a dark art, particularly in the eyes of those who approve budgets. As experiential grows, it will get more press and eventually prove its accountability. For Akuffo, his priority is taking experiential beyond the confines of London. “You can probably find some kind of experiential activation to go to every Thursday night in London.” Social has helped make this happen, but it’s not taking off in the suburbs. Akuffo urges marketers to make use of under-utilized spaces because if there’s nothing else being experienced there, people will talk. “It creates a bigger footprint socially,” he explains.