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Bridging the Experiential Gap in a Socially Distant World

by Ashley Smith

One of the most interesting ways I’ve heard someone describe experiential marketing was, “it’s like building your dream house, decorating it, picking out the curtains, the finishes—and then burning it down.” This thought points largely to experiential marketing as a temporary state, a moment in time where so much careful thought and planning goes into creating a unique experience only for it to disappear after weeks, days, or hours. 

How do you recreate the feeling of walking through that metaphorical house when it no longer exists, and repurpose the experience in a now purely digital environment? In this newly socially-distanced world, how do we bridge the gap?

Build from a holistic customer experience strategy (and be ready to pivot)

With an audience that is digitally tuned in now more than ever, there is tremendous opportunity to explore alternate applications for previously planned events. Oftentimes the answer is not clear cut, however. Just like the possibilities in the physical space, there are a number of custom applications in the digital world. Repositioning an event requires careful consideration and should be led by a holistic customer experience strategy. Luckily, experiential thought leaders have created industry-wide platforms to share ideas and innovate in real-time.

Zoom is more than just a conference call

As we’ve now realized, Zoom is winning 2020. Aside from the WFH shuffle that the platform has largely supported over the past few weeks, brands like Chipotle are utilizing the virtual hangout to connect with consumers and move the needle. It will be interesting to see how Zoom leverages and monetizes future brand integrations on the platform.

VR/AR shift from a component of the experience to THE experience

Finally, our new IRL is currently defined by VR/AR. Instead of existing as a component of an event, virtual and augmented reality are now the facilitators of the event. The HTC VIVE Ecosystem Conference jumped feet first into the livestream virtual event world in response to the current conditions. A number of experiential marketers and brands like Salesforce are following suit, using a combination of interactive tools, scripted and live content to bring brand stories to life that would otherwise be told through a live experience. 

While the impact and longevity of this new normal are not yet known, these creative solutions can help keep your team in motion—bridging the gap with innovative and meaningful experiences at a time when we need them the most.

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