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What’s Your Story? Experiential Marketing Weaves a Tale

Posted on June 20, 2014

Today’s guest post is from David Chatoff.
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Everyone loves a good story

This is true in literature, film, television, Broadway, media and music.  This is also true in brand marketing. You can’t turnaround these days without hearing about how storytelling has become one of the hottest things in marketing, since the last hottest thing in marketing. (See the amazing LEGO Story here.)

Your Brand Too

GEICO, Maxwell the PigHowever, this trend has staying power. Every brand has a story to tell, whether it’s a deodorant, a TV show, a chocolate bar, an insurance company or an automobile. Every brand. Each story taps into consumers’ most positive emotions and makes them feel more personally connected to the brand. The story may be one of brand history and legacy (think General Motors or Oreo) or one based on a brand’s popular marketing platform (think Geico’s Maxwell the Pig or the Old Spice Man) or one based on a brand’s ability to help consumers tell their own stories – with those stories ultimately becoming the brand’s story (thinkSharpie or Match.com)

Much of this “storytelling in marketing” discussion centers on digital and social marketing, as platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and the rest, all provide the opportunities for brands to use beautiful images (or video) and romantic, digitally-optimized language to tell brand stories that help sell the brands.

Experiential Leads the Way

AThose of us who work in experiential marketing have long known that some of our best and most effective work is built around brand storytelling.  This is where brands can literally bring their stories to life, engaging all (or most) of the consumers’ senses. Whether it’s in the parking lot outside of a sporting event, in the middle of a mall rotunda, on the grounds of a summer festival or in a high-visibility city square, utilizing storytelling techniques can create an authentic brand experience. Plus, all of the positive elements of social media-driven storytelling can easily be deployed within the experiential environment, delivering the story beyond event participants and into their social circles. Brands looking to use storytelling within experiential marketing should simply ask themselves, A) “What story am I trying to tell my audience?” and B) “How can I deliver that story in a compelling and engaging way?” Like any good story, the experiential story must fully envelop the audience – make them feel, make them believe, make them want to see more, make them want to tell their friends about it.

Frankenweenie, HGTV, Bottlerocket Marketing Group

Is it a pop-up experience that walks consumers through the history of an iconic auto brand by taking visitors from displays of the brand’s classic vehicles through its current vehicles through innovative concept cars showing where the brand is heading on its journey into the future?  Is it a special mixer event for a dating website that instead of using company execs to deliver brand “sell” messaging, enlists couples who met through the site to share their personal stories of love? Is it the re-creation of the set from a TV show or movie giving consumers the chance to insert themselves into the story and experience “live” what their favorite characters experience on-screen?

Those are just a few examples of storytelling-driven experiences.

So, what is your brand’s story?  And how will you bring it to life?

[Lead image is a Noise to Signal cartoon by Rob Cottingham]
Dave Chatoff

With over 16 years of experience in the marketing agency space, Dave Chatoff has developed strategically-driven promotional campaigns for a wide range of clients across the television industry, as well as for brands in the financial services, retail, and CPG industries. He currently serves as the SVP of Strategy at Bottlerocket Marketing Group.

Posted in Marketing