As the world transitions out of the global pandemic, the hybrid ways of living and working that we’ve grown accustomed to look like they’re here to stay. In fact, McKinsey recently conducted research indicating that Australian consumers intend to continue using digital means for activities that were done out of home pre-Covid, with online and omnichannel experiences becoming more a part of our everyday lives.
In light of this, how can brands continue to create engaging and seamless experiences for their customers? How can they capitalise on our hybrid reality to blend live and virtual touchpoints in ways that connect?
Enter experience marketing
At GPJ we believe experience is everything. Being an experience marketing agency means we spend our days devising innovative ways for audiences to engage and connect with brands leveraging all of the senses. These take many forms, including large-scale events like sporting ceremonies or festivals, immersive physical and virtual environments, conventions and conferences, digital experiences including websites, apps and online broadcasts, and targeted communication campaigns to name just a few. These experiences are guided by a strategic business goal (such as sales opportunities initiated or converted), or a clear marketing objective (often focussed on building awareness and shifting sentiment about a brand, product or issue).
The importance of story
Once we know why we are delivering the experience, one of the first questions we ask when approaching the brief is: what’s the story we’re telling? We then consider how it can be told in a compelling way from end to end. What is the first moment of encounter for our audience and how do we connect with them? How do we then stimulate their interest, introducing elements to captivate, inspire, and draw them into an adventure with a satisfying conclusion? Our team of writers, directors, animators, editors, designers and producers at GPJ are deeply creative people who are dedicated to telling the best stories possible. They will often look at the story from all angles to determine the best ways to render it. Their goal is to create a journey in which the audience forgets the medium and becomes immersed in the narrative.
Audience @ Heart
As we craft the story, we are driven by our belief that the audience remains at the heart of everything we do. We take the time to get clear on who they are, what they like or don’t like, and what they are hungry for before we begin curating the experience. Once we’ve analysed the audience, we then devise a journey that’s tuned to their needs and is brought to life through the following mediums:
Physical – How we design a physical environment influences how people experience it. The best spaces draw you in, guide, inform and comfort you all at the same time. This spatial UX is similar to that found in digital experiences, guiding the audience through the options available, with each of the variables leading to a range of outcomes.
Virtual – Most physical experiences also exist alongside a digital ecosystem that forms part of the experience too. Whether it’s a web platform through which the experience is shared, a communications journey that acquires the audience and develops anticipation leading into or out of the experience itself, or immersive forms such as augmented and virtual reality, the digital realm is an indispensable layer of experiences today.
Hybrid – The best experiences see a seamless integration between physical and digital touchpoints that take users on a journey. It could be argued that most experiences are now hybrid, incorporating a physical and digital presence that the audience moves seamlessly in between.
At GPJ, we always start with the audience and use those insights to inform the medium, not the other way around.
Content is still king
As the primary mode of storytelling, cross disciplinary content is an important part of any brand experience. This can include video, motion graphics and animation, written and spoken word, audio – any element involving the senses. At GPJ we have a full service content team capable of delivering a range of content from strategy through to post-production, integrated with a digital team capable of building almost any kind of platform or application. We also collaborate with our strategy team, who help us get clear on the audience and message, our creative team, who dream it big, and our production team who make it all happen. When it all comes together you end up with a seamless, integrated, end-to-end experience that immerses the audience in the story and leaves them transformed.
So what do the experiences of tomorrow look like?
The experience economy, coined in 1988 by Pine and Gilmore is here to stay; in fact the industry has grown exponentially in recent years, as brands have recognised the need to connect with potential customers on a deeper level. There’s now a whole spectrum of work across a variety of disciplines, featuring everything from interactive showcases to Meta and mixed reality. But audiences value authentic connections the most. The experiences that will continue to resonate are those in which the execution becomes a vehicle that transports the user to the heart of the story, engaging their body and mind in a journey of discovery.