Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” And, to quote another great, we can all agree that “the times they are a’changin’.” When it comes to brand recognition, the gold standard has historically been familiarity. The consumer knows that whether they go to McDonald’s in Richmond, Texas or Richmond, Virginia, they’re going to get the same delicious fries. They know an experience in Starbucks will offer consistency, whether they’re in Santa Barbara or Santa Fe. Human beings love comfort. On the other hand, we also love surprise and novelty. Familiarity can become boredom, and that certainly isn’t the goal. Enter: Disruptive and Experiential Marketing. Traditionalists may be resistant at first, but remember the words of Darwin, and adapt!  

Consumer preferences are changing. Blame it on technology, the stars, or the millennials, but then embrace it. Gone are the days when the only way to measure marketing success was by consistency. Yes, recognition is still important, and the reliability of providing a consistent product or service remains vital. But, perhaps due to information saturation, brands are thinking forward to how they can set themselves apart and make a meaningful impact. These “disruptions” needn’t be loud nor expensive. They need to be interactive and shareable. They will be most successful if approached with the playfulness that comes with being willing to try new things.  

Here’s how to ease yourself and your marketing team through the ch-ch-ch-changes!

1. Wade In Slowly

Experiential Marketing is here to stay. Not a passing trend, these shareable experiences will become a new component of legacy marketing. So, there’s no need to rush in. Begin to talk about the concepts with your team and co-workers. Introduce the concept here and there, in conversation and in action. Make small decisions in the direction of this kind of marketing so it feels familiar as your efforts become more robust.

2. Scale For Your Business

You may not be Apple or have a budget supplemented by an entrepreneur on Shark Tank, but you can still play the same game. Small moves go a long way as long as they’re well-executed. Always keep the two words, Interactive and Shareable, at the forefront of your brainstorms. Think of investing in a branded GIF photo booth, with your brand and hashtag embedded in the contact, for bringing to events where your business may be a relevant presence. And remember the power of allowing your employees to act as brand ambassadors through their own social media.

3. Learn How To Measure Your Success

This is an exciting and dynamic form of marketing. It’s in no way static. So use metrics that reflect that. How many impressions did you make by people engaging with your content? Did anyone mention your brand through an @ or a hashtag? Did anyone interact with any of your employees while they were acting as influencers? Are you beginning to see more website click-throughs? Track sales and inquiries after campaigns of this kind. Experiential marketing builds brand identity and loyalty, which will hopefully mature at sustained rates to see bottom line results for years to come.

4. Be Young At Heart

Pretend your business is brand new. What moves would you make to make a memorable debut in this modern climate? Approach your marketing like it’s the first time, and note the ideas that come up for differentiating yourself in the marketplace now. Are you placing your “new” business on a platform that creates value and attracts business for today’s audience?

5. Let Your Customers Know You’re Listening

This is a constant across your entire business, and this kind of marketing is no exception. Personalization is one of the most seductive ways of really connecting with your customers. Your authentic interest in your customer links your brand’s identity to their identity. This is another way to effectively build loyalty. Find ways to speak to consumers as individuals instead of as one great monolithic entity. Customer Relationship Management software can help track your customers’ interests and habits  and help you tailor experiential and interactive campaigns that will make them feel special.

Don’t worry about playing it safe. Don’t be afraid to adapt for the environment. Again, it’s by not adapting that you run the greatest risk. Blaze a path. Grow legs, and keep your fins at the same time. When it comes to the survival of your business, your willingness to evolve will turn you into one of the “fittest.”