At times a corporate client will come to us and say they want to market their product in an experiential way, but they don’t have a clear idea of what’s involved with that. They may know they want to take their message to a certain place and a certain group, but not exactly sure how to do this, so they ask us for our recommendations. The first thing we tell them is that whatever the overall idea or concept, make sure the experience they create has some fun, interactive elements.
We’ve been doing this a long time, and we’ve found that the best way to draw people in is to have something interactive for them to do. An experiential marketing display isn’t a museum – you can’t just have folks come in and walk around, because once they see what there is to see, they’ll head for the next display. You want folks to hang around and learn about your brand.
Of course, some experiences are totally interactive, like the Cub Cadet Test Drive Challenge. Giving folks the chance to test drive a Cub Cadet lawn mower – and even have little races – was a great way to attract people and really get them involved with product.
If your product isn’t one people can actually ride, just give them a simulated ride. One interactive element we’ve had great success with are racing simulators. Race fans love seeing the show car, but what many of them really want to do is drive a race car. Obviously, that’s impossible, but a simulator is the next best thing. We’ve been building simulators for over 20 years to go with our show cars. These are more than racing video games, like you see in an arcade. We make them very realistic, with sound and rockers in the seats to simulate the actual movement of the car, and we can even customize them to the extent that if someone visits a display at Darlington Raceway, that’s the track they race on in the simulator.
There are lots of other high tech elements you can use to make your display fun. When Mello Yello became the title sponsor of NHRA Racing, they wanted to have a big presence at the race track, so we worked with them to create the Mello Yello Fun House. Among other things, it had a green screen, where visitors could pick out a background and have their photo taken. Since this was at NHRA races, people could have photos made with different drivers who are affiliated with Coca-Cola, which makes Mello Yello. But the beauty of a green screen is that you can put in anything – any setting, any person, any item – so it gives you all kinds of options. And people love getting free souvenir photos to show their friends who couldn’t be there.
People also love games and prizes. Games with prize giveaways are always a great way to make your display interactive. One thing we’ve done is have a huge TV with a touch screen, like an iPad, where people can step up and play a trivia game while other people watch. A big screen like that can have a lot of impact, attracting quite a crowd to cheer on the player. But it’s also a more expensive option, so you may need to go a simpler, less expensive route.
That’s no problem – simple games can be just as effective. Nowadays people love retro games, so we do giant versions of Jenga, giant Plinko boards (8’ x 10’, so they’re very hard to miss), simple Spin The Wheel boards, and cornhole is always popular. All you have to do is offer the game and let people play (after they give their name and address, of course, since that is the whole goal when getting people into your display), then give them a prize when they win. Notice I said “when” and not “if,” because pretty much everyone walks away with a prize.
I mentioned trivia games before, and they are a great way to get people involved. We all know people like to compete by showing off how much they know! They are especially popular at sports events, since fans usually really know their sport and their team, but it could be anything. If you’re at a music event, do music trivia. If you’re at a city fair, ask trivia questions about the town. The goal is for people to show interest in the particular game while also learning about your brand.
So, your interactive element doesn’t have to be computerized or highly technological, it just needs to be fun and something that will attract a lot of people to watch and participate. Whether your display is massive and costs thousands of dollars or is small and simple, some kind of interactive element is essential if you want to get people to come in, hang around, and enjoy themselves, all while finding out about your brand.