ACTIVATIONS – RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

Recently returning home from a kick-ass 2 month national roadshow, I found myself contemplating RULES OF ENGAGEMENT for experiential marketing and brand activation.
Month after month, there are hundreds of promotions and activations all over the country, the large majority of which, in my opinion, fall short of overriding objectives of converting consumers to customers.
Everyone knows consumer experience is key. But too many ‘experiences’ seemed developed more around brand needs and aspirations, and not enough around needs, wants and aspirations of audiences.
It wouldn’t be far fetched to compare brand promotion and activation with the dating game. First comes attraction. You hit your favourite watering hole, and of all the talent around, only a few really grab your attention. You watch for a while, looking for tell-tale signs hinting at your chances. …lingering eye contact, cloaked smiles, flirting from a distance… You take the bait and move in, engaging with small talk, posturing, posing, all the while assessing whether and how the play the next step…
You both play your cards right and you’re on the way to new romance and possibly a relationship – but only if you play your cards right.
The rules of engagement for a successful marketing intervention are almost identical, namely attract, entice, engage, seduce and if you play your cards right, comsummate (activate), and the start of a relationship.
Attract: Whether in a mall, on a beach or even at an expo, amidst all the visual clutter in your space, you need to attract attention. Don’t expect a rose to stand out in a rose garden – unless it is an exceptional rose. Similar with your site, either be truly exceptional or totally different.
Entice: You’ve attracted attention, now you need to draw them in. Your looks have opened the door, your action will either draw them closer or lose their interest. Try excitement, entertainment or intrigue. And importantly, don’t configure your space shutting your action off from traffic. People interacting with people and props always attract more people than simply props. Never forget!
Engage: Nothing is more of a let-down than making a move and finding out your target is about as interesting as a sloth on valiums. From visual engagement we have moved into dialogue. Populating your site with a couple of poppies with big smiles and nothing much else will work only in a beauty pageant or a brothel.
Seduce: The promotional mechanic is key to seduction. Just as in love, it always pays to sweeten the deal… ‘…the first time I played for the Springboks…’, ‘…you must see the view from my penthouse office in my Cape Town operation’, ‘…and I came outside and someone had scratched my newest Ferrari’. Sweeten the deal before you lay it on the line.
Activate: You’ve engaged in a way that stimulates dialogue. We are learning about the hit and they are learning about us in a way that should have them chomping at the bit for a ride. Up to this point, it was ‘getting to know you’ jabber and flirting, but there comes a time to play your hand. …This is activation, and if you played your cards right, the start or rekindling of a relationship.
GAVIN MILLS – 23 October 2013