3 Types of Partnerships That Will Make Your Experiential Activation Wildly Popular

As ever, the priority needs to be on resonating with the consumer

fans cheer at an event; appears to be a concert
By working with the right partners, you'll be able to ensure that your activation is remembered fondly by consumers. Getty Images
Headshot of Brian Salzman

According to a survey by Bizzabo, 80 percent of marketers believe that live events are critical to their companies’ success and the majority of them (91 percent) plan on growing their event marketing budgets. Experiential marketing gives consumers an experience with your brand. It’s about building a relationship with a certain consumer on their turf.

While there is no doubt that in a world with so many messages being thrown at consumers, real-life experiences are as hands-on and tangible as you can get and not every brand is prepared or capable of putting on a top-notch event or activation. Rather than focusing on the financial gains that come from a sold-out event, brands should think about the experience they’re creating for consumers. To do experiential activations right, brands need to be fully committed to the process and enlist talented partners to get the job done.

Collaborating with the right partners can do wonders for igniting a massive halo effect, extending the impact of an activation long into the future. Here are three types of partnerships for brands to consider. 

The brand partner

Creating trust with new audiences and prospective brand tribe members is paramount for building a loyal community. And how does a brand build trust? The same way we build friendships: connecting over shared values, interests and goals. Partnering with another brand that is hyper-relevant to your audience is a powerful link to reach your target audience. Not only are you bringing on additional support for the ideation and execution of an activation, but you’re bringing on an association that will send a message to your audience that says, “Let’s be friends.”

Rather than focusing on the financial gains that come from a sold-out event, brands should think about the experience they’re creating for consumers.

Say you’re a wellness startup that wants to break into the wellness space, and you partner with an athletic apparel company or a wearable wellness brand. Your audience will immediately associate your brand with wellness because of such a partnership, regardless of how much history, legacy or connection you have in that industry. Brand partnerships can provide powerful ways of building desired identities, entering new markets and shaping consumer perception and identity in a very short amount of time.

Before pursuing any kind of brand partnership, it’s imperative to develop a strict criteria list. Partnering with the wrong brand can do major damage to your brand positioning and perception. Do your research to ensure that the brand has the right social positioning, engagement, purpose and stance. A partnership is an intimate and serious proclamation to the world of who you are and what you stand for. While the brand doesn’t need to have the same exact vision, they should ultimately elevate your relevancy and social connectivity in the end.

The agency partner 

The second type of potential partnership is an agency partner. You can think of this type of partnership as one that facilitates cultural understanding and the bigger picture, helping your brand ideate and design an activation that will place your company in the right place, in the right cultural conversation, at the right time.

An agency can identify the larger trends and movements that your brand should be included in, and they’ll understand the psychology of how your target consumers should be interwoven into your brand activation. They’ll consider all the various touchpoints, the flow of communication and the overall design of the experience. The agency partner can be extremely effective for helping a brand with its positioning.

There are generally three types of important agency partners today: one that’s focused on culture, one that’s big on tech and innovation and one that has key industry relationships. While some agencies might embody all of these different assets, a brand may have to bring a few different agencies on board to meet of all its needs.

The production partner

The last type of partnership to consider is the production partner. The production partner can provide invaluable support on the execution of an activation, which can be a daunting task for big brands or large-scale experiences. The logistical planning for a successful activation requires time, dedication and attention to detail, and brands don’t always have the staff or bandwidth to conquer all moving parts. Perhaps most importantly, the production partner can provide helpful relationships and connections that can be invaluable when bringing an event to life. From venue recommendations to caterers, artists, technical support specialists and more, production companies are masters at event execution and they can provide some much-needed peace of mind for brands that want to roll out an activation smoothly and with confidence.

As with any partner, research is key. Getting references, conducting interviews, looking at past events and asking for a sample pitch deck for an activation are all crucial for landing on the right production partner.

Brand activations are powerful experiences for brands and consumers, but they can pack more punch when they’re brought to life with partners that can support, enhance and strengthen the activation in meaningful and strategic ways. At the end of the day, everything a brand does should lead back to the consumer. By leveraging the full power of partnership networks, brands can amplify their activations to achieve the ultimate goal of activating a halo effect: creating ripples and layers that spread awareness, fuel deeper connections and win over new audience members over time.

@LASalzman Brian Salzman is founder and CEO of relationship marketing agency RQ.