RENEGADE THINKING from the Founder/CEO of Renegade AND the author of "The CMO’s Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing."

Lost Opportunities to Engage During #Blizzard2016


This past weekend, New York City had one of its biggest snowstorms ever, and, as usual, this presented an opportunity for brands to engage in the social conversation. Not surprisingly, New Yorkers expressed a lot of joy, surprise and down right frustration across social channels. What was surprising is that as the snow and chatter piled up across Gotham, most brands stayed pretty much out of sight. We believe this was a lost opportunity. [Note all of the research for this article was done by our social analyst Andres Monsalve]

NETFLIX: #Netflix&Chill.

Across the social chatter, it was pretty obvious that #Netflix&Chill was going to be present and dominate a huge part of the conversation.



Did Netflix use this opportunity for their benefit? Not so much.








These were their tweets about #blizzard2016:

Could Netflix have taken advantage of this social happening in a more buzz-generating fashion? Most likely yes. For example, Netflix could have rolled out a group of special releases for the #Blizzard, encouraging their users to watch a few and of course, chill. Or bundle a bunch of bad weather related films into a binge-watching marathon.


For many New Yorkers, spending two days in one’s tiny apartment can feel a bit like a jail term. Some people were worried about suffering cabin fever during this “extremely long” period of confinement. In order to bear with this suffering, many find a bit of alcohol a welcome companion. Note that NYC now has the 5th largest number of craft breweries in America. However, most alcohol brands did not engage in the conversation at all and ignored the opportunity to “come to the rescue.”

Brooklyn Brewery, at least, demonstrated how to use #blizzard2016, enlightening us with this innovative way to take advantage of the snow.


The real unsung heroes in this blizzard were the #FoodDelivery guys as thousands of New Yorkers stayed in and ordered out. As George Herbert Palmer said about the postal workers once, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” The men and women who deliver food ‘round the clock truly help make NYC the greatest city in the planet, and New Yorkers recognized this during #blizzard2016. More than 600 mentions were about tipping your delivery guy more than 20%. Unfortunately for their brands, neither @Seamless nor @Grubhub chose this as an opportunity to join this conversation and support the folks that make their service possible. Like empty seats on a plane, this was a lost opportunity.


The big winner in joining the blizzard conversation was the @NationalZoo who shared a gleeful video of #TIANTIAN, the panda, rolling in the snow. #TIANTIAN garnered more than 13,000 mentions over the weekend and stole our hearts. What can we say? Guess we all have a soft spot for furry animals playing in the white stuff. Here is the video of #TianTian enjoying #Blizzard2016.

Responding to social conversations like the #2016Blizzard in real-time is tricky business, requiring a great deal of preparation and then, lightning fast wit. Clearly most brands rode out this particularly storm but perhaps others will plan ahead for the next big opportunity. We hope so.


The Non-Linear ROI of Social


I’ve spent a lot of time recently obsessing about the ROI of Social Media.  Not just because current and prospective clients want to see some kind of a return on the services Renegade provides (although that’s a damn good reason in and of itself) but also because it’s a fabulously complex Kobayashi Maru-like challenge.

Consider for a moment all the roles that social media can perform for a company including customer service, recruitment, research, product development, awareness building, crowd sourcing content, referral/lead generation, and yes, even direct sales in a few cases.  Now try to unbundle those roles and show straight line ROI for any of them with the exception of the last one.  Good luck to you.  (By the way, smarter minds that mine like Lux Narayan of Unmetric have concluded  it’s just not possible.)

Thinking that social media could be my route to the answer, I sent out this tweet:

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 9.23.13 AM



Rob Moore, CEO of Internet Media Labs and a fellow IBM #SmarterCommerce VIP Influencer (which has become an invaluable micro-social network!) was kind enough to respond leading to the conversation below. Rob offered a terrific example of “Non-Linear ROI” which brought us both some comfort that all the social networking stuff we do actually does pay out!  If you have similar tales to share, let me know.

Drew Neisser: First, can you provide a short description of Internet Media Lab?
Rob Moore: Internet Media Labs is a NYC based new media & technology company.  We build technology to help businesses and brands build and manage social relationships more effectively.  We also run a cool co-working space and produce a web show, #InTheLab.

Drew Neisser: Talk to me about how you measure social ROI in terms of your own business?
Rob Moore: Social ROI for us takes many forms, and it is important for businesses to recognize that there are many forms of Social ROI that can be quantified and measured.  Of course, there is the obvious – we make a social connection that becomes a buyer of one of our products or services.  But there is also tangible ROI that comes in different forms: from connectors – people that introduce you to others that ultimately buy – and amplifiers, people that share our message about our products.

It has to be noted, however, that none of this happens without a significant investment in relationship building.  We have amazing social relationships and networks that will have significant impact on our bottom line for years to come.

Drew Neisser: ROI in your case seems like a very non-linear non-direct marketing process. Is that a fair assessment?
Rob Moore: Absolutely.  Up to this point, I would say that most of our ROI would qualify as originating from non-linear connections, i.e. someone that introduced you to someone else, that invited you to speak at a conference, that resulted in a business opportunity.  That is pretty non-linear!

One important thing to recognize as well is that many of those originating relationships happen as the result of seemingly “random” intersections – the serendipity of social.

Drew Neisser: So you met Linda Bernstein (@wordwhacker), who is clearly an influencer and she has been evangelizing on your behalf which lead to various leads which you will close at some point. That sounds like ROI to me. Do you think it’s possible to actually create a model that puts a value on your nurturing of people like Linda?
Rob Moore: First of all, I need to state for the record that it would be impossible for me to put a “value” on my relationship with Linda, she falls into the PRICELESS category!  But that said, you can absolutely model and attribute value to your social relationships, especially when you apply what I call “social forensics” to the analysis: mapping and identifying the true origin of that revenue you just booked.

When you are able to do that, every social relationship can be assigned a potential future value.

I want to be clear that I don’t look every person I meet on Twitter with dollar signs in my eyes.  Rather, I look every new social relationship as an opportunity for mutual discovery, networking and advocacy.  By being authentic and agenda free, trust is formed and friendships are created, the by-product of which is magic!!!

This works both ways for IML, by the way.  We have sponsored many an event, used services, or paid commissions to people and businesses that we have met through social media.  As a matter of fact, our social media ROI balance sheet is a little in the red right now – we need to do something about that!

Drew Neisser: Is this kind of networking / relationship building with influencers scalable?  If so, any thoughts on how?
Rob Moore: It is scalable, but it doesn’t happen without a plan and significant commitment. My friend Angela Maiers (@AngleaMaiers) coined the phrase “Tactical Serendipity”, which I love.  Tactical Serendipity means putting your self in position to take advantage of the random intersections that happen every second in social.  If you can identify where you best social relationships have come from, put yourself in a position to attract more of them – you can scale great relationships if you know where to find them.

Drew Neisser: Also, you’re a seasoned vet with a proven track record which makes it a lot easier for you to network with other influencers like Linda.  Could a junior person at your company have done this? Is this sort of networking something you can teach people?
Rob Moore: Yes I believe this type of networking can be taught to and mastered by almost anyone.  Surely my depth of business experience has been an advantage to me as I have engaged in social, but there was a massive learning curve for me as well.  I think that learning curve can be compressed, though, to accelerate success and positive outcomes.  For junior people, this can be achieved through coaching and mentoring, for senior people new to social it is often just a matter applying existing skills sets and knowledge to well defined social relationship building strategy.

FINAL NOTE: This is just my opening salvo on Social ROI.  Expect a lot more on this subject in the near future.  There are folks out there (like Syncapse) working of formulas to calculate Social ROI and I can’t wait to dig into those…

Guerrilla Marketing Insights


Business Insider ran a feature today on guerrilla marketing which included a couple of quotes from yours truly.  Here are my notes from my interview with reporter Bianca Male.

What is the best way to define guerrilla marketing? And what is it most definitely not?

Guerrilla marketing is a state of mind not a particular channel. Guerrilla marketing is about making more out of less, combining innovation and elbow grease to cut through. Guerrilla marketing can also be defined by what it isn’t. It isn’t traditional media like TV and print. Today’s guerrilla marketers capitalize on social media with a vengeance; listening, researching, conversing, engaging, supporting and ultimately selling. That said, just using social media channels like Facebook doesn’t make you a guerrilla. Using Facebook in a fresh way like Burger King did with Whopper Sacrafice is guerrilla. It simply isn’t guerrilla if it isn’t newsworthy.

How can a business decide if a guerilla marketing campaign is right for them?

There are a few highly regulated industries like financial services and insurance that make considering guerrilla approaches a risky proposition. That said, just about every other marketer big or small can benefit from guerrilla, its just a question of risk tolerance. Guerrilla marketing typically carries some risk since it requires a brand to step outside its comfort zone and do something they’ve never done before. Guerrilla marketing done right is newsworthy. As I said earlier, It isn’t guerrilla marketing if it isn’t newsworthy. One of the risks of guerrilla marketing is that it simply won’t cut through as planned simply because it wasn’t original or it was just a dumb idea. Another risk is that the guerrilla idea was a mere moment in time and didn’t include sustaining elements. One of my favorites: Renegade launched the HSBC BankCab in 2003 with a search for the “most knowledgeable cabbie in New York” which got tons of PR and concluded with a one-year contract for Johnnie Morello. Seven years later Johnnie is still on the road providing free rides to delighted HSBC customers in a vintage 1982 Checker Cab.

How does a business develop a guerrilla campaign? Any guidelines?

The article I just wrote for my blog on Fast Company provides several relevant guidelines. Generally, its best to start by setting clear objectives followed quickly by doing your homework, really thinking through your category, brand and consumer. Ideally, this process will yield a true insight that can be transformed into a big idea. Then its time to think 360°, imagining all the ways your idea can come to life, online, offline and in-between. It often helps at this point to imagine the story headline you’d like to see, the tweets you’d like to read, the photos you’d like to be taken and YouTube videos that you’d want to view. Talk to some PR professionals you trust to make sure these story ideas might in fact find purchase in your ideal media outlets. Google your idea to make sure it hasn’t been done the same way you’re planning to do it. Guerrilla programs usually start when a client says to us, “we don’t have any money but we’d really like to get some media attention.”

One of my favorites: A few years ago, Panasonic was introducing a new line of alkaline batteries called Oxyride that were far more powerful than Energizer. Since they didn’t have the budget to compete directly, Renegade came up with a truly guerrilla program called “Neuter your Bunny.” This tongue-in-cheek “public service” effort focused on heightening awareness of the benefits of bunny neutering. Turns out it calms the male bunnies down and prevents female bunnies from getting cervical cancer, a disease that otherwise strikes them with remarkably frequency. So Panasonic Oxyride batteries established Neuter Your Bunny day, donating 5 free neuterings and $10,000 to the House Rabbit Society. And despite the fact that PETA gave Panasonic an award for caring, the American press thought this was veiled yet hilarious competitive campaign writing headlines like “Panasonic Wants to Neuter Energizer” in over 30 publications from Time Magazine to Newsday.

Is there anything a business should NEVER do when it comes to guerrilla marketing?

It is generally not a good idea to do something that will cause someone on the team to go to jail. If you have to break the law to get attention then you probably need a different business model. Try not to annoy your target. A street team performer once shoved a donut in my face in order to get me to stop and go into a bank branch—this was not a fun experience for me or productive for the bank who would never ever get my business after that. Try not to think of guerrilla as a moment in time or as a simple street stunt. This will limit your horizons and the potential impact. And never tell the boss that your guerrilla program is going to be a hit before it becomes one. Its always better to under-promise and over-deliver especially with often unpredictable guerrilla endeavors.

Innovative CMOs: Spotlight on Barbara Goodstein, AXA Equitable


In October 2008, Barbara Goodstein, Chief Marketing Officer of AXA Equitable was only slightly nervous as her company launched an unprecedented customer retention program called  Creating a “retirement portal” more focused on “value add” than lead generation, Ms. Goodstein was moving her company into unchartered territory, delivering a “marketing as service” program that became far more successful than even she had anticipated.

Since its inception, has attracted over ½ million visitors who spend a whopping 11 minutes browsing highly relevant content from top experts like Kiplingers, Service Magic and  Current customers were quick to thank AXA for this resource with not just words of praise but also by buying more AXA products, generating revenue far beyond the program’s cost. The press responded to this innovative marketing approach with over 200 stories that yielded an equivalent of $4.0mm in paid media coverage.

Since the old proverb “success has many fathers but failure is an orphan” also applies to marketing, it is often difficult to get the real story on what it takes for innovations like to come into being.  In this case, however, after an extensive interview with Ms. Goodstein in which she reviewed the development process, it became very clear that her journey has provided a textbook case on innovation, yielding the following seven critical elements of success.

1. Innovation Starts at the Top

Ms. Goodstein is no stranger to innovation.   Having guided the highly effective 800-Pound Gorilla advertising campaign for AXA into being four years ago, she knows a big idea when she sees one and she knows how to stretch a budget for maximum impact.  But she is also the first to acknowledge that “innovation more than anything starts at the top” and that if her CEO, Kip Condron, didn’t encourage and support innovation, her efforts would never see the light of day.  With senior management saying, “We should try multiple creative options and see what’s going to work,” and encouraging innovation with financial incentives, the virulent skepticism that typically inhibits new idea development is diffused if not silenced.

2. Listen to Your Customers

The impetus for sprung from an annual study AXA conducts among its customers. According to Ms. Goodstein, “We built on years of data that revealed the topics that were most relevant to pre-retirees, so we just had to take all of this content and make it accessible.”  Pre-retirees noted their interest in everything from home and family to health and fitness, from travel to finance, from self-improvement to entertainment.  So it came as no surprise to Ms. Goodstein that these topics gained traction with their target.  The only surprise was divergence between the expressed interest in volunteering and concierge services in the research versus the actual behavior on the site.  Ms. Goodstein speculates that disinterest in these areas may be more a reflection of current economic realities than the ultimate value of the content.

3. Make Sure It’s Truly Innovative

Before developing, Ms. Goodstein and her team did an extensive review of retirement portals and competitor’s websites.  When it was clear there was nothing like it out there, the AXA team then “did our own screening to find the best possible content providers.” According to Ms. Goodstein, “It took over a year to line up all the partners, and an internal SWAT team dedicated to every area of the site” to pull it all together. To insure relevance, they insisted that all the content had national reach and users could even “drill down by zipcode.”  And though much of content exists on other sites, AXA is the first to aggregate it all in one place, and is the only retirement portal without highly intrusive advertising.

4. Service First, Then Branding

The intention of from the beginning was to be a service – not an advertisement, a service that would help retain existing customers, and one that would reflect the deep expertise of AXA Equitable and its sincere commitment to help consumers with retirement planning.  “We wanted the site to be value add” noted Ms. Goodstein, “and we didn’t want it to be a commercial for us.” This commitment to service had a strong influence on the design of the site, which has almost no AXA ID other than their 800-pound gorilla who serves as “branding anchor and host.” The now familiar gorilla sits on top of each section and offers a “pithy audio message” that Ms. Goodstein anticipated “would create more of a connection” with site visitors.

5. Service First, Then Sales

Once the site was launched, AXA representatives were provided with a number of tools to share it with existing customers.  Direct mail, email and brochures described the content and invited customers to visit the site.  Then the unexpected happened, this so-called retention program started generating sales. “For $40 worth of DM, our reps generated an incremental $60,000 in sales,” added Ms. Goodstein with glee.  Suddenly the sales team that usually put the kibosh on programs considered “non-revenue generating,” embraced the site, acknowledging its power to increase sales among existing customers and even to attract new ones.  By providing a genuine service to its customers and prospects, AXA found a friendly way to break the ice and renew the conversation about retirement with a now receptive target.

6. Innovation Requires Perseverance took over two years from conception to launch, with multiple hiccups along the way.  Getting the technology right was challenging and the site, which was developed by internal IT resources, went through several iterations.  “It took us a while to get it right,” acknowledged Ms. Goodstein and of course, she did not have “universal support initially.”  Importantly, AXA Global and top management voiced their confidence in the project, which Ms. Goodstein gained by outlining a clear vision, defining the content with crisp wireframes and by providing prototypes that fueled expectations.  By demonstrating what it would look like and never wavering from the quest, Ms. Goodstein and her team were able to build consensus from top to bottom, setting the stage for its ultimate success.

7. Don’t Rest on Your Laurels

Despite exceeding expectations on every metric, Ms Goodstein and her team continue to seek ways to improve  New original content is in the works that will simultaneous enhance the visitor experience and increase the natural page rankings on the search engines. New content partners that could increase consumer appeal are being evaluated.   “We are also going to change the enroll button so interested visitors can reach us more easily” added Ms. Goodstein who marveled at the unexpected benefits of a true “value add” program, “Because we are willing to work so hard, people want to connect with us.”

Bottom line: Marketing innovation is neither easy nor linear, requiring support from the top, a clear vision from the start, steadfast determination along the way and ultimately a desire to do right by the consumer, a consumer that will thank you many times over with not just words of praise but also their pocketbooks.

10 Olympic-Sized Ideas for 2010


As Second City moved down to fourth in their failed bid to host the 2016 Olympics, President Obama elected to use a sports metaphor to soften the blow. Noted the First Chicagoan upon his return from Copenhagen, “You can play a great game and still not win.”

Looking ahead to 2010, marketers will be facing Olympic hurdles that will require steadfast agility just to stay in the game, much less to hit the finish line ahead of the competition. Here are 10 ideas, wrapped in Olympic glory that should deliver the gold.

1. Social Media: A Marathon, Not a Sprint
Hoping to become fast friends with their targets, a lot of brands rushed into Facebook and Twitter in the last 24 months without investing sufficient time or resources. In 2010, savvy marketers will increase their commitment to social media by first listening and then offering up a steady stream of engaging content that their fans actually want. This will be particularly true for B2B brands, only 38% of whom included social media in their 2008 marketing plans (vs. 71% for B2C brands). With one comScore study indicating that branded social media activities can have a multiplier effect on search results, there is even a quantifiable rationale for brands to up the social media ante in 2010.

2. Mash-Ups: Taking Inspiration from Biathlons
A few innovative marketers took a shot at mash-ups in 2009. E.P. Carrillo, a new cigar manufacturer, created a mesmerizing Twitter and Google Maps mash-up for its “coming soon” site that tracks cigar tweets from around the world. In 2010, these kinds of mash-ups will become smoking hot as marketers look to extend the value of their social media activities. Recognizing that tech-savvy consumers glide seamlessly between personal and business, online and offline, mobile and desktop, farsighted marketers will bring together formerly disparate elements into a cohesive and self-perpetuating social media experience.

3. App Happy: On Your Mark, Get Set, Go Crazy
Given the success a handful of marketers enjoyed with their “apps” in 2009, expect a blaze of new entries in 2010. iPhone apps that provide demonstrable utility like Kraft’s iFood Assistant recipe finder, Benjamin Moore’s color matcher and Zipcar’s GPS-based car finder will continue to gain traction. Expect more app’s that integrate with other social media like the Gap StyleMixer that allows you to mix and match clothes and share them with friends on Facebook. And don’t forget the non-iPhone universe. The steakhouse Maloney and Porcelli cooked up a humorous and somewhat deviant web-based app at Expense A Steak that extrudes faux expense reports with stunning verisimilitude.

4. Measure Up: Track Every Second
With more dollars earmarked for social media, marketers will undoubtedly use new tools to monitor the conversations that are happening with or without them. Radian6 and Scout Labs emerged in 2009 as two of the leading social media monitoring tools. MolsonCoors uses Radian6 to stay on top of all the banter about its major brands, allowing them to respond with remarkable speed to one of my blog posts about a Coors Light Twitter account that turned out to be unofficial. And while these tools are great, each requires a sizeable commitment by the marketer in time of staff, a commitment that can and does pay off. Just ask JetBlue who manages to enhance customer loyalty daily by responding to any and every customer Tweet within minutes, following 117,000 on Twitter, and in the process generating over 1.3 million followers.

5. POV Power: Don’t Just Talk the Talk
While lots of brands raced into social media in 2009, few established true connections with their targets. The reality is that consumers engage with brands that they like on a visceral level and that provide a distinct perspective on the world. Aflac’s Duck quacks up a gaggle of quirky content, including charitable requests that appeal to over 161,000 fans on Facebook and 3,000+ followers on Twitter. Meanwhile, Geico’s Gecko has been left in the social media dust due to its surprisingly dry ( and unresponsive ( online voice. Ironically, a brand by definition is a point-of-view that once clearly defined should guide all communications, social or otherwise.

6. Expose Yourself: Win the Crowd With Honesty
The emergence of several “tell all” consumer-created sites signals the arrival of a new era of honesty and transparency – especially for brands targeting those under 35. Sites like, and reflect a generation willing to bare and share all without the least trepidation. Even the emergence of “Untag Mondays” speaks to the socially acceptable norm of posting embarrassing content that one might not want a parent or employer to see. Marketers that share this sense of honesty, that admit mistakes and address shortcomings in real-time will find a youthful army of comrades willing to do their bidding. As Comcast discovered, this kind of honesty can even transform a PR nightmare ( into an industry-leading customer service (

7. Hold the Presses: Major Comebacks are Possible
Though a 50% decline in ad pages certifies 2009 as the worst year in its history, don’t write off print as a viable media channel just yet. Over 80% of US consumers still subscribe to at least one magazine and 83% believe newspapers are still relevant. Experimenting with video in print pubs like Entertainment Weekly is but one of the ways certain magazine segments will hold onto their targets and satisfy their advertisers. Fashion magazines and enthusiast pubs continue to offer a visual showcase that is far superior to what most e-pubs can serve up. Models, both human and auto, simply look prettier in print. And while P&G shut down its 72-year-old TV soap opera Guiding Light in 2009, they are cranking up the presses with the custom published glossy, Rouge, which expects to reach a whopping 11 million North American households in 2010.

8. Go to the Video: Separate from the Pack
The emergence of viral video rankings in 2009 reflected the mainstreaming of this approach to audience engagement. While everyone and their branded brother aspired to cut through with a viral hit, surprisingly few found an audience. In 2010, marketers will undoubtedly crank out more of the same while a savvy few will worry less about mass reach and focus more on grass roots appeal, providing content that their core target really wants. B2B marketers in particular will find that using informative videos that transform the complicated into the comprehensible, like Commoncraft’s Plain English videos, will generate quality leads from grateful prospects.

9. Mobile Media: Catching Up at Last
Despite all the hype by this author and others, less than a third of marketers had a budget for mobile in 2009. In 2010, smart phone penetration should rise to at least 25% (from 17% in Q2 ‘09) making it a lot easier to deliver a rich mobile experience worthy of consumer attention. The blending of mobile and social apps like Facebook, Loop’d and Twitter has also created a new openness towards this medium.
Given the desirable demographics (18-34, HH income $75k+) of smartphone owners, at minimum, marketers should give strong consideration to creating a mobile friendly website, thus allowing prospects to engage whenever and wherever they happen to be.

10. Be Positive: Attitude is Everything
While honesty is a worthy friend to marketers, don’t forget that almost no one wants to date a Debbie Downer. A recent poll by Adweek/Harris found “relative little enthusiasm and lots of indifference for ads that refer to the downturn.” Even if the economy is slow to recover in 2010, find the silver lining for your customers and prospects with both words and actions. Like the athletes whose positive outlooks and superior skills propel them to victory, so, too, can marketers find success with an upbeat message and an unimpeachable value proposition.

May 2010 Serve You Well
While 2009 hasn’t been much fun for most marketers, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the approaching year. There are more ways than ever to engage with consumers and a new willingness from consumers to engage with brands. Marketers are showing a renewed desire to listen to their customers and offer “marketing as service” that favors the dissemination of meaningful value over disruptive messaging. So here’s to serving your customers but serving up some great marketing in 2010!

Timely Tips on Experiential Marketing


BRANDWEEK ran an expansive special section on Experiential Marketing this week that included some pithy quotes from yours truly. Since this is a topic I tend to think a lot about, here are extensive notes from my conversation with BRANDWEEK reporter Michael Applebaum a couple of months ago.

Great experiential marketing programs

Experiential marketing comes in a lot of flavors which makes it tough to generalize what makes a program great. For some clients, it is enough to have created an engaging trial-focused experience during which the consumer consumes the product or service in a reasonably memorable fashion. For others, the ultimate goal is buzz, as measured by PR coverage, word of mouth or on occasion trade reactions. Still others seek to establish a continuing relationship with the target, so online registration becomes the ultimate measure of effectiveness. A truly great program, in my opinion, does all of the above and then some.

A truly great experiential program first and foremost is so appealing the consumer wants to engage with the brand. It is the opposite of disruptive advertising which like an unwanted door-to-door salesman intrudes into the home. Great experiential marketing is not shoving a donut in someone’s face on the street and then saying “try our bank.” To be appealing, marketers need to offer a reasonable exchange of value, during which the consumer gives up his/her time while the brand provides the experience and usually some free stuff!

Done correctly these experiences can have exponential impact which is important since 1:1 experiences can be pricey. If an experience is targeted at the right influencers, then these influencers will undoubtedly share their experiences. If the physical experience has an online component, then there is an opportunity for both WOM and a deeper relationship with that consumer. If an experience is sufficiently newsworthy, millions of other interested parties can be influenced by the event(s).

Renegade’s rules of thumb for a great experience are as follows:

  • the experience is fresh enough that the press wants to write about it;
  • the experience is relevant to the story you want to tell about the brand;
  • the experience has legs well beyond one single event and/or one single communication channel;
  • the experience is entertaining and enlightening;
  • the experience is so engaging that the consumer wants tell his/her friends about it.

This is not about just getting attention. There is an old adage in our business, “If you want attention, put a gorilla in a jockstrap and stand him on a street corner.” This is about engagement. Mutually beneficial engagement.

Lots of industries are turning to experiential marketing

Food and beverage companies are old hands at this since sampling is essential to growing their businesses. Brands like Pepsi AMP go to extreme lengths to sample their product to the right target–they handed out as many as 5 million samples this summer. Alcohol brands are creating mini-experiences in bars, clubs and restaurants with extraordinary frequency across the US. Entertainment companies like to include experiential programs in the mix often with the hope of creating a “must see” buzz prior to launch. B2B brands are also crafting experiences with greater frequency (examples available if you need them).

Lately, we’ve been noticing a lot of brands pulling from the Experiential 101 Playbook:

  • The World Record—Wise potato chips set the world record for most chips crunched at the same time at a Mets game this summer. Not exactly New York Times material but surely some pub out there besides the Guinness Book was interested.
  • The Pop-Up Store–Southwest Airline is the latest airlines to set up a pop-up in Manhattan theirs being a café-like setting in Bryant Park. Now defunct Song tried a pop-up store in 2004—unfortunately the store experience was better than the airline itself.
  • User Generated Content—a lot of experiential programs start by asking the consumer to create some kind of content. HSBC’s Soap Box and JetBlue’s Story Booth (both by JWT) ask the man on the street to provide their points-of-view. This “content” was then turned into ads and online communications. A smaller scale example comes from a small Canadian Beer Company called Okanagan Beer that challenged consumers to tell them why the brand should sponsor their events/parties. This content was then repurposed into a 360° campaign and sales jumped 30% — this is definitely on my list of “wish we’d done that.”

There are lots of ways to measure experiential marketing

As for research, there are so many different kinds of experiences and a corresponding amount of measurement tools depending on the objectives. We like to use Net Promoter Score on a pre/post basis as a measure of the experience itself. We have seen 30-40 point swings in likeliness to recommend a brand to a friend after exceptional experiences. In theory, every brand can measure the value per customer gained and/or the value of increased loyalty per customer. For example, if a brand experience makes you twice as likely to buy and/or recommend a brand, then one can compute the increase in lifetime value of that customer. That said, the math can get fuzzy pretty quickly. That’s why PR coverage is so important. Great press coverage can extend the reach of a program, making it more comparable to measuring the effectiveness of a media or PR program.

Latest trends in experiential marketing

First, mobile devices are becoming integral parts of brand experiences. An iPhone app can start an experience. An in-bar trivia contest answered via text messages can start an engagement. Mobile is part of a bigger trend to integrate technology into the experience and extend beyond the physical into the virtual world. Event experiences are often extended via Facebook and Twitter programs. Event experiences can be used to introduce on online extension, like Frito/NFL’s hunt for the most “fanatical football family.” And of course, social media is playing an ever increasing role in starting and extending brand experiences. An experiential program Renegade created for Toasted Head wine has evolved into an on-going Facebook program that keeps the faithful engaged.

Second, microevents are starting to get big. Royal Caribbean held 1000+ “Cruisitude” parties at homes of former cruisers. As I mentioned earlier, alcohol brands are hosting small events at bars almost nightly to engage their targets.

Where to start

Marketers are best to start with “the why,” not “the how.” If they know why they want to create experiences then it is much easier to figure out the how. If trial is key, then the experience can be built around that. If they are doing it to stretch marketing dollars, then getting buzz & PR should probably be the top priority. From there, we recommend marketers focus on “the do,” not “the say.” What is it that you can do for your target that will make them want to engage with you? Sometimes “the do” is just free stuff but often “the do” can be more substantial. Sports car owners like to drive fast but rarely get to do it legally. “The do” for BMW was a Performance Driving School for its customers. Road warriors scamper about airports looking for places to charge their gear. “The do” for Samsung was charging stations in airport terminals.

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