How to Apply Experiential Learning in Event Marketing
August 16, 2017
If you want to create compelling events that develop authentic connections between your audience and your brand, you may want to consider experiential learning techniques. Exploring how people learn about your brand, and the role you play in that process is the first step in generating a global experiential marketing campaign. Experiential learning techniques divide the learning process into four basic components: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. Using these concepts, you can fine-tune your approach to experiential marketing and educating the market about your brand.
Concrete experiences relate to our daily experiences at home, at work and in social settings. These are the “learn by doing” behaviors. Whether the experience is completely new, or a familiar experience in different context, teaching an audience about your brand through an active, concrete experience is a powerful marketing strategy.
A brand like Yeti, who focus on sportsmen and athletes, would benefit from developing concrete experiences like invitation-only deep-sea fishing opportunity. If you have a digital brand, like Google, sponsored coding classes or innovation seminars are more in-line with your value propositions. Each of these examples addresses the markets’ interest and the brands’ role in their respective industry.
The natural next step, from a concrete experience is reflective observation. In the experiential learning cycle, this usually occurs after having a new experience. More simply, after participating in your event, they think about it and remember it. While much of this process is out of your control, there are still useful tactics to help grease the wheel. Most marketers will recommend providing take-aways like keychains and photos, others will tout the importance of an email follow-up. If you’ve performed the first step correctly, then the best and most relevant take-away is the knowledge they’ve acquired. Emails can be a great way to facilitate a further conversation, but without the proper context, your messaging may lower their affinity for your brand, rather than support and identify with your values.
If the previous step is important for exploring the brand perception, then abstract conceptualization is vital for solidifying it. Abstract conceptualization is about taking their reflective process one step further and testing their fidelity to the brand image you’ve developed. This is the part of the process where your brand evolves from the concrete experience they had to the intangible brand identity.
For example, Yeti has noticed that an emerging market in deep-sea fishing has the potential to increase their revenue by 10% over the next five years. So, they decide to take their top 100 clients on a deep-sea fishing trip. You already know, this is the concrete experience. As part of their lesson, they’ve made their own lures specifically designed to catch deep-sea fish. Later, this take-away will help facilitate reflection of the experience. Abstract conceptualization happens when they make the intangible connection between Yeti and deep-sea fishing. Now Yeti is the only cooler product that make logical sense to take on their deep-sea fishing trips, but they aren’t quite sure why. Subconsciously, deep-sea fishing and Yeti become synonymous.
Finally, this stage helps your audience expand their understanding of the brand to different contexts and uses. Active experimentation is about the audience reevaluating, revising, or even reinventing their original perceptions about the brand. This stage is defined by their desire or ability to see your brand/ product outside of the first application.
Applied to our Yeti cooler example, this would mean that use their cooler for more than deep-sea fishing. It can be taken to the beach, makes a great gift, or keeps frozen groceries cold on a hot day. The product and brand aren’t necessarily different, but they can solve different pain points, unrelated to their original purpose, with different applications.
From start to finish, brand development through events is an exercise in education. Your goal should be to educate your market about who you are, and why that’s important to their lives. Shouldn’t we consider more traditional education theories into our marketing? Let us know what you think!