How To Make Experiential Marketing An Experience Of A Lifetime
I recently had the pleasure of attending the “Spring 2013 Preview” for Columbia Sportswear and Mountain Hardwear in Sedona, Arizona. Columbia flew in editors from across the country from major publications like ESPN, Men’s Journal and Backpacker magazine. Some of these editors included industry bloggers and Columbia’s first inaugural social influencer group, #OmniTen. All of us had the privilege to preview their new gear and technology for 2013: Omni-Freeze Zero, an innovative fabric with blue rings that, when activated by precipitation of any temperature, cools down. Columbia provided gear for the three days in Sedona, including a backpack and a daypack, shoes, shirts, pants, shorts and more.
For many, a simple press release followed up by phone interviews would have sufficed, but that’s not what happened. Columbia didn’t want to just tell us about their new gear, they wanted us to experience it. What better way for a large group of editors from across the country to experience this new “cool” gear than in the smoldering heat and beautiful deserts of Sedona, Arizona? Each editor had the opportunity to choose one of three activities in Sedona: hiking, yoga or mountain biking. This Hoosier put that gear to the test in 100 degree heat while mountain biking around Bell Rock in Sedona. Columbia had stations along the way where participants could get sprayed with water to “activate” the gear and cool down.
After spending three days in Sedona, some of the editors flew back home while others took an additional three-day adventure backpacking into the Grand Canyon to Havasu Falls. This was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had and I can’t imagine a better way to test the limits of my gear than a 10 mile backpacking trek into the Grand Canyon in the sweltering heat, hiking inside the canyon on the Havasupai Indian reservation, climbing rocks, exploring caves and jumping off of waterfalls.
Focus on relationships and be accessible. Columbia hired BeCore to manage the planning and logistics of the event. BeCore did an incredible job making everyone feel like an honored guest and their acute attention to detail made the event that much more of an experience. This allowed Columbia’s team to be engaged with the editors, answer any questions, build relationships and have fun experiencing the product along with us.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself. You can create a great event but the people make the difference. Columbia reached out to people from a variety of fields and industries to come and enjoy the experience and even though the location and gear was amazing, it was the relationships that made it so memorable.
Provide the opportunity. It’s one thing to say that their product “activates” when it comes in contact with water to keep you cool. It’s something else altogether to fly you to the desert, give you a significant gift of free gear, and set you up on an adventure to put that gear to the test. Not only does it show they have a lot of faith in their own product, but further demonstrates it through their willingness to pay for each attendee to experience it.
As I mentioned earlier, Columbia invited the #OmniTen to be a part of this great event. A question I frequently get asked is, “How did you get chosen to be a part of this?” That is a great question and I spoke with Columbia Sportswear about this while in Sedona. But if you want to learn How To Successfully Organize Social Influencers and hear how companies like Columbia Sportswear and events like the Super Bowl in Indianapolis have successfully done it, please join me at Blog Indiana on August 10th for the answer. I look forward to seeing you there!
SOUND OFF: What are some stories or brands you’ve seen that have utilized experiential marketing well?