While the pandemic has prevented humans from engaging with one another face-to-face in recent months, as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease around the world, we’re all eagerly looking forward.
With experiential—the craft that is powerfully potent by virtue of its ability to create strong connections between a brand and a heart, mind, body and soul—a key part of the modern-day marketing mix, it’s important that brands and organizations start planning their transition back to these experiences.
Here are three trends to have on your radar now.
Brand stories will require a post COVID-19 refresh
Chances are, whatever consumers seek from a brand during COVID-19 is going to be very different in a post pandemic era.
So, we must evolve these brand narratives accordingly. Consider things like: How is it currently perceived publicly, such as in the media? How does it add value to consumers’ lives? How should this change post COVID-19?
It’s also vital to unearth information about the audience – are the right people being targeted, and how is consumer sentiment right now? How might it change? What are their biggest concerns as we come out of the pandemic, and how can we address them?
You’ll find most brands have countless different messages circulating, particularly following a pandemic. To achieve ultimate cut-through and avoid confusion in the marketplace, it’s important to condense these into the one consistent story, and to share it in relevant ways. Because the most compelling stories – they always win.
The phygital: one to watch
Phygital experiences represent one way for us to safely return to live physical events, as they combine the best of our online and offline worlds.
Truth be told, many of us were probably designing and producing phygital experiences pre COVID-19, in the form of a physical event with attendees in the thousands, which was amplified via a livestream or live Twitter feed. It’s a strategy I have no doubt we’ll return to in full very soon.
For now, we can expect the phygital trend to be leveraged in a slightly different way, and this is mostly because it’s unlikely we’ll see 1,000+ attendee events return overnight. Instead, smaller satellite events will be the norm, and they will be accompanied by sophisticated tech solutions which allow a large majority of attendees to tune-in virtually – and in interactive and immersive ways. A highly potent amplification strategy.
A heightened focus on citizen journalism
The phygital is also powerful in that it is inextricably linked to the concept of citizen journalism. With events likely coming back on a smaller scale to begin with, there’s an opportunity to pro-actively encourage those attending in-person to share their experiences with people who aren’t able to do the same.
But we must weave elements worth sharing throughout. Secondly, there should be a focus on advocating for virtual sharing pre-, mid-, and post-event. Think pre-event communications, including a dedicated hashtag on signage as attendees enter the physical space, and asking speakers to remind guests to share their highlights via virtual means post-session. Don’t forget about the virtual audience either – the pre- and mid-event social strategy should similarly encourage hashtag sharing and other forms of interactivity for heightened engagement and reach.
The future is looking a little brighter as we begin to emerge from COVID-19, now it’s time to plan brand experiences to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment for all involved.