Why Experiential Marketing Matters


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Show Notes:

Recently Cramer joined Emarsys’ Marketer + Machine podcast to talk about the role that events — interactive, emotional, active events — play in a digital marketing approach.

Join us and host Lindsay Tjepkema as they discuss why experiential marketing matters.

If you have feedback on our podcast, ideas for future trends, or want to keep the conversation going, let us know! We love to hear from our listeners.
Find us on cramer​.com and on Twitter with the handle @WeAreCramer.

From the studios of Cramer, thank you for joining us.

Speaker 1 (00:02):

Hello brand marketers, agencies, vendors, welcome to the latest episode of Catalyst, the podcast that brings you the latest trends in experiential marketing. Today’s episode of Catalyst is going to be slightly different, we are going to rebroadcast an episode of another podcast called Marketer + Machine, a podcast by Emarsys. In this episode, Cramer’s Brent Turner, Senior Vice President of Marketing Strategy and technology here at Cramer, talks with Marketer + Machine’s host, Lindsay Tjepkema, about why experiential marketing matters now more than ever before. Together they talk about the role that events play in a brand’s approach to digital marketing and how to use events and technology to help people connect with one another and your brand in a personal, active, and memorable way. Ready? Let’s go.

Lindsay Tjepkema (00:53):

Welcome to Marketer + Machine by Emarsys where you’ll hear from some of the world’s most innovative marketers as they share how they are successfully acquiring customers and retaining their loyalty, as well as what they see coming for the future of marketing. I’m Lindsay Tjepkema, and I’ll be your guide as we learn to bridge the gap between the marketer and the machine. Ready? Let’s get started. Rebasing, it’s not a word you often hear to describe the current state of marketing, but that didn’t stop today’s guest. Find out why in today’s interview with Brent Turner, Senior Vice President of Solutions for Cramer, a brand experience agency that is thriving in this new experiential era of marketing, and working with global brands like IBM and Puma to invent craft and fuel incredible experiences with their customers. Prior to joining Cramer, Brent was the chief digital officer inside MIT and held executive leadership positions at Ogilvy and Boathouse, and successfully survived, not one, but two startup to IPO adventures.

Lindsay Tjepkema (01:58):

And today he’s here to share with us his insights on the world of experiential marketing, and teach us how rebasing relates to our lives as marketers. So let’s bring him into the show. As we get started, I know we actually had you join in on our, What I Want Marketers to Know blog series. And for those of you listening, if you haven’t checked that out yet, I definitely think you should as we get to talk to a wide range of marketing leaders, like Brent, to hear what marketers to know, and provide advice to the future of marketing. And in your interview, you mentioned a word that I don’t hear very often, and that was rebasing. And you said that a couple of times. So I want to hear a little bit more about what you mean there and what we need to know about rebasing as marketers.

Brent Turner (02:46):

The first thing your listeners will learn is while I am in a role that is focused on marketing, I have self-taught throughout my career, the technology side, and I’ve always been interested in marketing and technology. And rebasing a word comes out of the Git protocol. The underpinning technology behind Git is the platform for which developers can share code, work on the same documents, et cetera. Teams here that I work with use it, and I’ve been slowly trying to learn it myself. And most of it’s fairly straightforward. There’s push and pull. But I was recently drawn into the word rebasing. And so I was trying to give you a word when you asked, what’s happening in marketing now?

Brent Turner (03:28):

Rebasing came to mind because it’s a techie word, it’s a wonky word. And so what does it mean? In code when you’re working on any code base, when say a developer needs to create a new feature. So imagine you’re driving down a road and there’s a side street, and that side streets where people are developing that feature, and when they’re ready, they merge. Okay. So it comes back to the main road. And the concept of rebasing, you’re driving down the road and that people go off to the side and start to work over there, and very simple, over-simplifying. Rebasing means, instead of having them come back to your main road, you turn their side road into the main road and you move everything over there.

Brent Turner (04:06):

And in marketing, if you were to reflect back… and this has been evolving, right, and marketing’s gone through many different changes, but if you look at like even the last 15 years, there’s been on client side, on agency side, we’ve had SEO agencies, social agencies, we’ve added digital, we’ve added this. And if you will, those are equivalents to forks in the road. And instead of saying, “Let’s just merge them together and say that’s what marketing is today.” The term rebasing comes to mind, meaning we’ve now built these strong digital arms, these strong technology arms within marketing. We’re not necessarily trying to merge them into the mothership. And many of modern organizations we’ve rebased to be built around that. So it’s again, it’s a very wonky word that visualizes mentally the idea that we’re not, where we are in marketing now is not keep trying to bring it back to the way we were, but pick up from these new paths that marketing has gone on and build from there.

Lindsay Tjepkema (05:00):

What can we, are we, should we be rebasing to, and building up around?

Brent Turner (05:07):

Oh. You have the consumer side, which is, the two big trends there are what’s happened in digital over the last 15, 20 years, and then really what’s happened more in the last 10 years, where it’s been really five years where design has become much more prominent to all major businesses. Design used to be the domain of the apples of the world, and everybody thought of them as design first. And now you have Microsoft who has as beautiful product and hardware design as Apple, if not better, and I’m an Apple guy. Airbnb’s and Netflix is on the design side. And on the digital side we all have the Amazon. So this is what’s happened to our world as consumers. And it doesn’t matter if you are a tiny startup or a massive B2B wonky business in a non-consumer farthest, like an industrial sector.

Brent Turner (05:54):

It doesn’t really matter to your audience anymore because that’s where we start. We start with an expectation of digital and design. What we’ve seen on the business side for our clients are, the buzz word of the last three years has been digital transformation. So you’ve got, quote unquote, digital transformation driving a fundamental business mindset change, changing up C-suites on down. You’ve got marketers who figured out that the broad stroke old days of broadcasting messages, which we all know intrinsically doesn’t work, so we have a rise of the account-based marketing narrative in focus. And then you have the pillars, the platform that runs underneath it, which is a continuing expansion and growth of a marketing technology landscape.

Lindsay Tjepkema (06:39):

Another thing that you’ve spoken about a lot and that I totally agree with, and that we’re seeing more and more conversation around is not only this need, but absolutely paramount foundational need for alignment of marketing with technology, with product, with sales, with customer service and how we should really all be coming together around the customer experience. So let’s talk about that a little bit.

Brent Turner (07:07):

The alignment, you named five, right? It’s an earlier diatribe I just gave you of sort of where things are going. Businesses are recognizing and are to different degrees of success in implementation of implementation, but they’re aligning sales, marketing, customer service, technology, and product. Five major pillars, right? And we have now clients where the CMO, the Chief Marketing Officer, is also the chief product officer. Gone are the days where you had sales over here and marketing over here, customer support and client success down the hall, technology teams somewhere over here. And if you were a product team, your product team may be somewhere else. So there’s this ongoing centralization. And by the way, even if you’re in a industry as wonky as, say, industrials, there’s a product mindset to even marketing now for the websites, the apps, everything you have to do.

Brent Turner (08:00):

So marketers and senior executives, I should say, are realizing that the hybrid full customer experience does not, the customer on that side of the customer experience does not accept the silo-ing of. But if you are a marketer today, you are struggling to build real relationships, to get past apps and ads, to get through single point sales forces and a, quote unquote, customer success team. Those are your outward facing touch points with a customer and they all have one-off touch points, and you try to build a relationship with these people through digital centric channels. And the rise, if you will, the continued investment in a live channel like events and experiential really come down to it being an authentic space for brands to deepen a relationship with their customers.

Lindsay Tjepkema (08:57):

This reminded me of something that I heard Jay Baer say actually a couple of times, which is no longer is it okay to say this is a really great experience for a healthcare company. Or, yeah, this felt like a really personalized and meaningful interaction that I had for a bank. Everyone has this level, very, very high bar expectation for what that experience should be regardless of industry, regardless of where you are, regardless of what that interaction is. The bar is very, very high.

Brent Turner (09:34):

There’s a study that we love, which was created by Google with corporate executive board, which is now part of Gartner. It was done about three or four years ago. And you’re going to tell quickly where this is going based on the headline, but the way it unpacks is, what they looked at was what brands have a stronger emotional connection with their consumers, B2B or B2C? And they did a big study and on one side they had Cisco, PWC, et cetera. And on the other side, famous B2C brands, Apple, Target, McDonald’s, right? And at the end of the study, what happens? We found an overwhelming emotional connection to B2B brands compared to B2C. Now why is that? In B2C, if I don’t like my iPhone, I go return it. It’s a $200 purchase, right? Still big.

Lindsay Tjepkema (10:31):


Brent Turner (10:31):

Well, now $1,000. It’s still big. If I don’t like Target, I go down the street. It’s a low switching cost. It’s a low badge of personal identification. You can easily go from emotional, like my worldview as represented by where I shop. It’s still not that big of a hurdle for somebody to go change somewhere else. Meanwhile, on the B2B side, if I’m a senior executive and I’m coming in to say, “I want to hire X consulting firm, I want to bring in this platform technology company, I want to do this.” That often gets all the way up to the board level. It involves millions of dollars. It sets and makes careers, it sets and makes perceptions on a human level of yourself inside a business. Meaning, the role of emotion is critical in how people connect with a brand.

Brent Turner (11:17):

So I’m way off your question. But I want to set that as the stage because personalization is one set of work. And I will admit that there’s a lot of gray thinking in having it feel like a brand cares about me and be responsive, the Netflix and Amazon of the world. And there’s a realm of companies that are great at that. We look at the second part of your question, which was the meaningful. Because our role, our vertical in marketing is events and experiential. That means, yes, we can move sales and we do for B2B and B2C. You can move sales when you do a live event, when you do a mobile tour, when you do a street team, of course, that’s why you do a lot of those things to nurture a sales funnel and drive renewals.

Brent Turner (11:57):

But the underlying purpose in event marketing and experiential marketing is in meaning, is in emotional connection, is in the capital C community, bringing people together and making them feel part of something larger because of that undercurrent of emotion. Because at the end of the day, my belief of personalization is as much as we as brands want to help personalize how we talk to a customer and want to give them tools that make it feel like their journey is personalized to where they want to go make recommendations. True personalization and true meaning come when somebody actually is hands-on with that themselves and is creating their own future, creating their own experience by being active in it, and meaning by having a shared experience with others sitting around a campfire building community and drawing a bond to the business that you’re part of.

Lindsay Tjepkema (12:52):

Absolutely. And it’s interesting that you say that because even here at Emarsys, and shameless plug here, but we have an event coming up we do every year called Revolution. And we’ve actually, to your point spot on, changed the format this coming event in October to be more interactive and to break down that wall between the stage and the audience, so that there is much more meaning and there is much more hands-on interactivity engagement, conversing, and truly experiencing what’s happening as opposed to watching and consuming. So yeah, we’re living it here too.

Brent Turner (13:29):

So it’s again, there’s an underpinning and an expectation that if we can make events active, we can still drive your CMO and CEO level business objectives while driving the softer side, which is as critical but often forgot, which is emotion, and making an emotional connection with each other and a business.

Lindsay Tjepkema (13:47):

And I think everything we’ve been talking about as far as experiences in life and versus digital, and how to have that emotional, personal, meaningful connection. And one thing that I’ve been hearing about a lot is that with the pressure to do that, a lot of marketers are leaning on technology. And to a certain extent that’s fantastic because technology makes it happen, but I think that there’s a pressure to do it sometimes at the cost of that human element, that emotional connection and something is lost. So how are you seeing that balance come into play between the marketer and the machine, the human and the technology? Where have you seen it go right? How are you doing that with your clients?

Brent Turner (14:31):

The term [inaudible 00:14:32] that I’m in love with is generative AI, generative artificial intelligence. And it’s the very simple worldview. And all of that is a conversation, which is saying that technology is here to make you better, to make things easier for you, to improve how you do your job, to improve how you create content. What I’m personally more interested in is how we can use technology to make people better. And that’s such a almost BS thing to say, “Oh, let’s be better.” But so far, the last 15 years the conversation has been about optimization, and fragmentation, and testing, and all these other things that are the antithesis of having a conversation that says, “How can we make this feel more human?”

Lindsay Tjepkema (15:21):

On that note, we’re going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we’re going to look inside your crystal ball and talk about the future of marketing. I hope you’re enjoying the insights shared here on Marketer + Machine. And if you are, you cannot miss your chance to attend today’s most innovative and interactive marketing conference, the Emarsys Revolution. It’s October 15th through the 17th, 2018 in fabulous downtown London. Through three days of engaging live sessions, networking events, and hands-on training labs, Revolution equips marketers with the tools and insights needed to push boundaries and create an unforgettable customer experience. Register online today at Revolution.Emarsys.com. Okay. We are back with Brent Turner, and we are going to get into the future of marketing. So tell me what’s something or a few things that you see coming that you’re either excited about or are maybe concerned about even?

Brent Turner (16:22):

I’ll go excited about. Just let’s be optimistic. I can break it into two categories for you, one is just general technology that’s around marketers. And then the other is what I see in our ones, for anybody who’s really more interested in, or for a few listeners who may be interested for the next minute to hear about what’s happening in that events and experiential space on the future. So let’s take it first with events and experiential. There are really three things happening in that space that all have a technology underpinning, that are emerging or maturing today, but really we’ll go into the future. So the first up is this rise of realities around us, these digital realities, augmented reality also called mixed reality, virtual reality, the ability to either change the world around you or take you to a new space.

Brent Turner (17:14):

So in the experiential space, using these new realities and these other technologies can change the world around you, it’s very Disney World, and it’s the fun thing in events and experiential. The second is, for people who have been doing this for a while, they’ll remember the back in the early two, well, the nineties into the early 2000s, the term was interactive. In the mid nineties it shifted to being digital, but for a while it was called interactive. And I see this reclaiming of the word interactive happening. And what do we mean by that? Interactive in the next few years, I believe, is going to go back to meaning physical digital, where IOT and wearables become what we know as interactive. Technology, a space around you is interactive and therefore interactive will come back in a new meaning. So the third is the realization of personalization. Oh, that’s a tongue twister.

Brent Turner (18:10):

The realization of personalization, especially in the space of live events. And what I mean by that is the first up is facial recognition, what we know from, say the Minority Report or this great startup down in Houston called Zenith, which is transforming how you do even events registration when you show up on site. You walk in and it recognizes you, and your badge can be printed, and you can carry on into your journey, not having to sit and type your name into an iPad or a computer to get your name badge. The other side is networking. And we still in all these years of LinkedIn, everything else, we still haven’t cracked the ability of saying, “Here’s who I think you should meet.” And there’s a number of companies out there, especially in the event space, who are saying, “Lindsay, you and I don’t know each other. We obviously share a number of shared interests.” And from both personal to work, well, when we’re on site, we all rely on happenstance that you and I may get to know each other, say hello, be at the coffee bar at the same time. The next wave in the next year to five years, there’s going to be a big change in how networking is handled at live events.

Lindsay Tjepkema (19:16):

Well, that is where we’re going to have to leave it today. But I have loved our conversation. And in closing, before I let you go, where can listeners get additional information about some of the things that we talked about today?

Brent Turner (19:31):

One is if anybody wants to expand this conversation, you can catch up with me personally at my own landing page with links out from there. It’s About Brent, B-R-E-N-T.com. So AboutBrent.com, that’s for me. And then when it comes to all these technologies, design trends, especially in the events and experiential space, our team here, and our agency called Cramer. We publish a monthly newsletter, we get about, we’ve crossed about 100,000 subscribers. So we treat it very serious and nurture our newsletter list. And each month we publish a trend about what’s happening. It could be something like gaze-based interfaces, on through to different types of modernist design is on our horizon for the next few months, and looking at things like Chobani and Dropbox’s redesigned. And what does that mean for design in marketing? So there’s a fun trend newsletter we publish, it’s free and out there, and you can find that at Cramer with a C. So Cramer.com/trend.

Lindsay Tjepkema (20:26):

Thank you for sharing Brent. I hope you enjoyed this interview with Brent Turner from Cramer as much as I did. We talk so much on this show about delivering personalized experiences through digital channels, so I loved getting the chance to focus this conversation on experimental marketing and creating personalized meaningful live experiences. As we wrap up this week, here are my three takeaways for you to ponder. Rebasing, that word that Brent taught us today as it relates to marketing and how it applies to our roles as marketers. Take a moment to think this week about the pillars of your marketing organization and your strategy. What’s it built upon? Where is it shifting? Maybe you’ve rebased or you’re currently in the midst of it today. What could it mean for the future of your marketing org?

Lindsay Tjepkema (21:19):

Number two, in what ways can you use live interactions with your customers to be more authentic, regardless of what type of business you’re in it’s likely that live, or at least offline experiences can be used to create more meaningful customer experiences. So ask yourself what that might look like. What is something small you might even be able to get started today that could help strengthen your relationships with your customers tomorrow? And number three, regardless of whether your organization is B2B or B2C, it’s important to always, always remember that your customers are humans too, just like you.

Lindsay Tjepkema (21:55):

So as technology continues to evolve at a rapid clip, it will continue to provide more and more opportunities to connect with them in meaningful ways. So never ever stop looking for ways to leverage that technology to be more authentic and deliver real authentic value. So that’s it for today. I’m Lindsay Tjepkema, and you’ve been listening to Marketer + Machine, a podcast by Emarsys. If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast, and then join me next week for another Marketer + Machine conversation. Until then be sure to visit Emarsys.com and subscribe to receive even more innovative marketing perspectives and actionable insights. Thanks for listening.

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