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Experiential marketing – can it work for publishing?

June 6, 2011
Ministry of Works sign

Thou shalt not experience this place - today, experiential marketing is seen as a key part of the marketing mix. But is it measurable in the world of publishing?

Experiential marketing – loosely described perhaps as “interactive brand experiences” – has been the preserve of the big brands for many years now. Take for example this interactive poster for German car manufacturer BMW. But can this sort of approach work in the stuffy world of publishing? Does publishing offer a brand to exploit?

Well, in some ways, publishers have used experiential marketing for many years – ads based magazines have run industry shows carrying the mag’s logo after all. Others jumped on the Second Life bandwagon years ago while others are happy to invest in larger than life brand exposure hoping that the brand will sink into the subconscious of the reader.

Elsewhere, of course, some publishers – those with an ethical stance or an existing sense of brand loyalty – are moving experiential marketing into the world of social media with surprising results. But now, of course, comes digital publishing and the possibility to create “experiences” which make readers warm to the brand. Kindle, of course, like most things Amazon, is streets ahead in this world.

The Kindle is the ultimate in experiential marketing because this somewhat dour device allows people to think of reading in a whole new way – a sexy way to get at knowledge (more’s the pity then that publishers have failed lamentably to promote their brands within the device – sigh…). With so many out-of-copyright classics now available in seconds, interactivity is almost guaranteed.

The problem with experiential marketing of course is how do you measure it? The aim of every marketer must be ROI (or a metric which leads to a successful calculation of ROI). Here are a few ways of measuring marketing which goes beyond the measurable, with some prompts for the reader to arrive at a measurable:

  1. Data captured (which is used to deliver…)
  2. Number of interactions (from which you can deduce…)
  3. Number of trials  (which is used to arrive at…)
  4. Website traffic increases (which needs to be converted at what rate…)
  5. Forwarding of interactivity ( which means the publisher needs to…)
  6. Increased visits to book shops to buy (so you compare sales before and after to arrive at…)
  7. Increased brand recall (which means you can…)
  8. Increased brand loyalty (which is measured by and delivers…)
  9. Increased brand credibility (comparing before and after effects – used to do what?)

If the excesses of modern marketing can be contained, can experiential marketing work in publishing? Yes it can. But,as in everything, you need to measure and test based on sound commercial outcomes.

Doing it for “doing it’s sake” is merely throwing good money after bad.

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