Taking your brand to the streets connects your brand to consumers on an emotional level.
It’s a well-known fact that word-of-mouth is the most effective and trusted form of marketing. To put this in perspective, over 90% of people around the world trust earned media such as world-of-mouth recommendations, compared to under 20% of people who trust messaging which is broadcast via social media or other wide-reaching channels.
While a brand may reach more consumers through social media, TV or print ads, they will struggle to engage their audience emotionally…not only are the means available for reaching consumers much different today, the effectiveness of the methods that found great success with older generations is rapidly declining.
When one stops to think about how we exchange and process information, it becomes obvious why broadcast-based channels are falling out of favor. In 1971, Professor Mehrabian famously determined that human communication is only 7% verbal and that 93% of communication is non-verbal; body language accounts for 55% with tone of voice making up the remaining 38%.
This can be misleading unless we examine how information is encoded across those various forms of communication. Information is almost 100% transmitted using words (spoken, written, etc.) whereas it is the emotional component of communication that comes through almost exclusively via non-verbal stimuli. For any message to achieve maximum impact, it should be delivered to the intended recipient by another person in a face-to-face setting.
1. Brand Model Street Teams
In-person engagement works because it taps into the natural way people share information with one another. Our minds are hardwired to respond when another person communicates directly with us. Street teams take advantage of the fact that people pay attention (however briefly) when a person approaches and speaks with them. This brief opening is all a well-trained Brand Model needs to establish rapport and to begin building trust with a consumer. Their recommendation to try a new product or to consider trying a new service is now far more likely to succeed with such a connection in place.
One point that is often overlooked is how important it is to have alignment between Brand Models and the brand they are promoting. Not only can people sense when others are being disingenuous, individuals are far more likely to respond positively to people they have a lot in common with. Therefore, in order to effectively reach and engage its audience, brands (and the agencies they turn to), need to have Brand Models who are representative of the brand’s target consumers. Do this and you’ll find that although not every passerby will be receptive, an overwhelming majority of target consumers will respond positively.
2. Pop-up Stores & Experiences
This is the definition of bringing your brand to the consumer! Pop-ups allow for brands to gain a physical footprint in locations that are otherwise inaccessible to them. Or in the case of brands without a retail presence, they give consumers a tightly curated, in-store experience of the brand.
This can be the perfect setting in which to allow consumers to gain hands-on experience with new products that are more complex since a dedicated product specialist can be available to walk people through the trial process. Whether or not products or services are actually sold within the pop-up environment depends on the brand and the goal it hopes to achieve through the activation.
Pop-up experiences tend to generate a lot of buzz, especially via social media where a brand’s most dedicated fans will often proactively recruit other consumers to check it out for themselves. This is where tapping into the network of social influencers can be a huge benefit to organically raising awareness and ultimately driving traffic.
The most immediate benefit of an installation is the fact that it lends itself so well to being photographed and to being shared over social media channels. However, this must be carefully implemented to avoid any off-brand or inappropriate images being posted. Putting in place an approval process or simply facilitating the entire photo-taking process with on-site Brand Models can prevent such occurrences. However, these efforts must be balanced to ensure consumers don’t feel their own expression of the brand is being censored and/or controlled.
The most natural solution to achieving this balance is involving consumers in the photos they share and take home. Installations can be set up in such a way as to invite creative poses by groups or individuals. This has the effect of reducing the barrier to entry consumers feel when they are deciding whether to engage with an installation. When it’s obvious what is expected of them (i.e. clear visual cues where to stand, where to photograph from & how to pose), people are less likely to hesitate before they participate in the experience. Knock down these obstacles and you will elevate the level of enthusiasm evident in each consumer’s interaction…typically shy individuals will ham it up for the camera, groups of strangers inspired by one another’s creative poses will join forces and connect over a mutual sense of joy.
Obviously, not every person’s experience will be quite this profound, but the goal is to achieve a net gain in the joy people experience in their lives. Bringing people happiness, or even just a brief moment of delight, has a positive and transformative effect on them and on the world.
4. Flash Mobs
This last example is effective because it fuses many of the most beneficial results of installations, pop-ups and street teams. They take a brand into the streets and capture the attention of consumers in a memorable way that begs to be captured on their phones and shared on social media. Done correctly, this can allow the experience to reach well beyond those who witness the flash mob in person. Professionally capturing video for the purpose of using it as digital content can maximize the chances of it going viral, the ideal outcome from a reach standpoint.
Surprise & delight is the desired response a brand hopes to elicit from consumers. Flash mobs offer one of the most effective means of accomplishing this by way of delivering overwhelming fun and/or humor in a way that is completely unexpected. Whether it be choreographed dancers taking over Times Square, or hundreds of Stormtroopers walking down the streets of a city, these both demand the immediate attention of everyone nearby.
Going by the above examples, it is easy to see why so many brands today are taking to the streets. They have come to the realization that engaging their audience outside and in person yields far better results than broadcasting a message to them at home. This trend will likely continue as the consumers that brands want to reach are increasingly made up of millennials as opposed to older generations.
Millennials crave authenticity above almost all else and place a higher value on experiences than they do on material things. In their eyes, grassroots initiatives and movements will always carry more weight than those perceived to only be serving corporate interests. As brands shift how they market to consumers, those taking an approach based on empathy and compassion may very well find the most success. One thing is certain – consumers lead lives that are increasingly mobile and taking your brand to the streets is possibly the best and most authentic way to earn their attention and ultimately their loyalty.