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Biggest Experiential Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

There are seemingly limitless perks of experiential marketing: increased connections, elevated brand perception, expanded reach with word-of-mouth marketing. But with the high potential for reward comes a risk.

A bad experience can leave an attendee feeling worse about your brand or product than they did before setting foot in the venue. Additionally, with improper planning, you may not reap the benefits of the event you were hoping for. Below are some of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen in the industry, and how to avoid them to reap the benefits experiential has to offer.

 

Know your audience, their needs and what they’ll respond to. Experiences are not one-size-fits all. Instead, they need to be crafted to suit each audience base. Avoid poor attendee flow and nebulous communications, which cause frustration around the experience—and as a result, frustration with your brand. You know the event inside-out, but remember to design an attendee journey so that even someone who’s never attended an event in their life could effortlessly navigate it.

Brand experiences are like any sporting event. Though you’ve prepared, planned and practiced — with everything happening in real time, it’s impossible to avoid unexpected challenges, like a disruption in the AV system or extra long wait times. Which is why it’s good to have a few extra plays in your back pocket.

With a strong agency partner, you’ll have a team on your side who will have anticipated most of the challenges that could arise. They’ll have processes, plans, backup plans (and backup plans to the backup plans) in place to immediately and effectively address them. Which segues to the next mistake…

It’s a horrifying experience. You visit a friend in a different city, and before you can relievedly drop your bags from your travel-worn shoulders, you’re being whisked away to this restaurant or that social event or some famous local landmark. It’s exhausting. And it detracts from the visiting experience.

As the host to your target audience during an event, avoid overwhelming your guests with tight schedules. Create relaxed travel-time windows from session to session and provide spaces for attendees to engage in other activities, like networking lounges or meditation dens. Additionally, avoid giving your attendees decision fatigue by offering too many conflicting sessions. Instead, pack higher quality content into fewer sessions to maximize the impact of your event.

Attendees can experience some stress from operating outside of their home environments. Add inconsistent food provisions on top of that, and they quickly deteriorate.

Provide adequate food quantities and quality — planning for any and every dietary restriction. But also use the food and beverage as an opportunity to further your event message. A conference with a focus of innovation could have classic fares with a novel twist. A pop-up with a theme of sustainability could have locally-sourced farm-to-table options.

Who doesn’t love a good doughnut wall or VR adventure game? But without a purpose behind it, flashy — but extraneous — event elements won’t be your smartest spend. Not only that, they can muddy the event message and call-to-action.

Determine “the why” of every element in the event’s earliest planning stages. Set goals based on that why. Build every element to support it. Then after the event executes, analyze the data to see if your goals were accomplished and how you can be even smarter and stronger with the next event.