Experiential marketing interactions are designed to create memorable, in-person experiences between brands and customers. However, from numerous project details and deliverables to tight timelines and budgets, it can be challenging to successfully execute an experiential marketing campaign without the help of an experienced partner.
To help anticipate potential roadblocks and pull off a successful activation, many companies hire experiential marketing firms to see projects through from start-to-finish. It can be a great way to manage a complex workflow, a variety of logistics, and any unexpected challenges—if you have an experienced, full-service partner.
In this article, we’ll detail each critical step in the process and reveal the keys to streamlining success along the way, so you know exactly what to expect when planning your next experiential interaction.
Experiential Marketing Interactions: The 6 Stages
The full scope of an experiential marketing activation typically covers initial concepts all the way through production, installation, and removal.. Many experiential marketing agencies manage the process by hiring out to specialist vendors, who fulfill various parts of the process, such as concept drawings, 3D visualization, engineering, fabrication, and more. Other experiential marketing companies have full-service design and fabrication capabilities, offering an efficient alternative for brands that prefer to work with a single company that owns every step in the process.
In our experience, whether a brand works with a full-service fabrication company or hires an agency to manage vendors, there are six fundamental steps in the experiential marketing campaign process. While these steps may vary depending on who you partner with, they cover the entire scope of work associated with an experiential marketing interaction:
- Planning and Programming
- Strike and Removal
Next, we’ll explore each of these steps in detail and offer key insights that leverage every opportunity to streamline the project lifecycle.
Planning and Programming
Every experiential marketing campaign starts with a story. The first step, project programming, refers to the “story” that the brand wants to tell and the audience they want to reach. The right story will tie the planned interaction into the overall message and goal, determining what the brand wants to show and teach its audience through experiential elements. When an experiential marketing company is brought in early to consult, the project programming stage can be an opportunity for experienced partners to demonstrate their skills and expertise and provide valuable feedback on ideas. At this stage, an experiential marketing company will also plan key project details, including the deliverables, timeline, and budget. This plan is the backbone of the project, and what both brands and partners will use as a roadmap for every step to come.
All the design details are decided at this stage. To start, a design and fabrication studio works with the brand to come up with concept sketches and mood boards for the experiential marketing interaction. For studios that provide full-services, the design stage can also include expert guidance on design feasibility, as well as materiality and finish options for the project. The balance between nailing the concept visually, while making process and material choices, ensures that the design is compelling, cohesive, and stays on budget. During the design stage, an experienced design and fabrication company will help brands understand every option, so they can weigh important variables that will impact project quality, timeline, and/or budget, before moving ahead.
During the visualization stage, an experiential marketing agency presents detailed renderings of what the final build will look like. In this step of the process, studios with 3D visualization capabilities will be the experts, showing clients multiple variations and making any necessary changes to digital versions before production begins. By having a precise visualization of the design, brands can prevent costly changes during or after build, confident that the final results will be true to the renderings. At this stage, using a full-service design company may also be advantageous, as they will have complete ownership over the building process. An experienced studio will know how the various parts of visualization will play out in the build, and will be responsible for the entire process.
Whether it’s a small piece of signage, a large-scale sculpture, or a stage set, the build process includes the construction of the physical components for an activation. During this phase, experienced partners will use CNC machining services, 3D printing, and other production technologies to build assets from a variety of materials such as wood, stone, plastic, and more. Studios that offer in-house services may be useful in selecting materials that best meet the budget and durability needed for the project, as well as additional guidance that can ensure a smooth timeline.
The activation step is the installation of the finished product. Often, this includes shipping, which can become complex when items are traveling long-distance or to multiple locations. In many cases, shipping and installation are often outsourced to third parties, but some full-service studios provide both shipping and installation during their experiential marketing project process. The full-service approach helps studios take the entire campaign into consideration, ensuring that design components are as durable as they need to be. Another key component of activation is the run of show schedule—a detailed plan for every activity that needs to take place as the installation is carried out, and during the course of the event. An experienced partner will be an invaluable resource in handling these logistics.
Strike and Clean-up
After an experiential marketing campaign ends, designs must be broken down and disassembled. This includes strike, shipping, storage, as well as responsible disposal and recycling. These are important, but often overlooked details. An experienced studio will cover every last detail, ensuring that all items are properly discarded.
Planning Your Experiential Marketing Interaction
Experienced design and fabrication companies work one-on-one with brands to build memorable activations that generate the highest return on their investment. Using custom furnishings, sculptures, wall art, signage, and more, studios bring experiential marketing campaigns to life with immersive environments that create memorable interactions audiences will want to share.
While there are many experiential marketing agencies with experience in executing successful campaigns, working with a partner that owns the entire process in-house can deliver optimal efficiency and quality control. To learn how a full-service design and fabrication company can take your next experiential interaction to the next level, schedule a no-pressure introduction to Bridgewater Studio today. We’ll customize a free project plan for your activation so you’ll be set up for success from the start.