Aug 8, 2008

Definition of Immersive Marketing

“If you build it they will come.” – Field of Dreams

Immersive marketing is the heir apparent to the experiential marketing and customer exposure management philosophies.  The obvious implication of ‘immersive marketing′ is that it completely envelops consumers in the brand.  But what does that mean practically?  Shar Van Boskirk of Forrester Marketing Research defines immersive marketing as “a cohesive and all-encompassing experience across any channel where the customer is.” This definition is a good jumping off point for our discussion and offers some buoyancy.

In order for this to be a useful definition (like a useful brand) it must differentiate itself from close cousins like experiential marketing.  Boskirk is right to point out the “cohesive and all-encompassing nature” of immersive marketing.  There is more of a focus on broadening the experience beyond the experience to include pre-sale, during-the-sale, and even heavy post-sale engagement.  A successful immersive engagement goes beyond providing a single, memorable experience in such a way that the brand becomes a part of the consumer′s lifestyle.  If you can excuse the negative connotation, we could say that it achieves a cultish following.

A more subtle distinction is the degree to which the audience is engaged.  Engagement is the crux of experiential marketing.  Immersive marketing trends show a focus on challenging the audience and spurring an even more intense fluid, dynamic, two-way flow.  A call to action is a vital ingredient to any immersive marketing campaign.

Immersive marketing does not follow an inside-out approach to selling.  Traditional forms of marketing tend to shout at customers and achieve interruption.  Think about it.  Say you are watching Saved by the Bell.  Zack is about to ask Kelly to the dance and at the towering zenith of suspense… Will she say yes?  Will she go with Slater instead?  Just when you can take any more of the sweaty palmed, knee quaking crescendo of adolescent tension and doubt, what happens?  Laundry detergent.  A laundry detergent add interrupts your television show with a vain hubristic play for your attention.  Immersive marketing takes more of a concierge type role.

We all know about “passive aggressive” but what about “aggressively passive.” Immersive marketing campaigns are distinctly passive.  Friendly, inviting environments invite a passerby to step into a retail store instead of screaming at him to do so.  Rather than following loud instructions the consumer is subtly encouraged to take a proactive first step and thus open floodgates the kind two-way fluid interaction that brand managers dream about.  A successful passive approach does not just happen.  Marketers must be extremely aggressive in their passive approach.  Diligent work with designers, architects, and brand managers is what achieves and subtly seductive brand space.  Intense screening and education will provide you with a smiling, helpful, and approachable front line staff.

With a focus on aggressively differentiating your brand to be more passive and inviting you can achieve great results and higher ROI.  Immersive marketing seeks to engage audiences through fluid interaction and engagement that exceeds the experience itself.   If you do these things, “People will come, Ray.  People will most definitely come” (Field of Dreams).

Related Articles:

The Future: Immersive Marketing by Shar Van Boskirk

Can “Immersion Marketing” Save Marketing From Itself? by Graham Hill

Immersive Marketing: Challenge Your Audience by Bill Taylor

Advent leads from the forefront of the cutting edge modern marketing industry by fueling brands with the explosive power of immersion.  Advent creates an emotional bond with audiences by leveraging the unrivaled effectiveness of experiential marketing through targeted events, engaging exhibits, and branded spaces.  High impact and high touch strategies mark Advent′s creative advantage and have helped rapidly expanding brands communicate messages that gain immediate and lasting resonance with consumers.  For more, please visit www.adventresults.com.