Experiential Marketing: What’s in store for 2023?

News & Views

  • Tamara Olori
  • 2 February 2023
  • 7 Min Read

Elevate leaders take a look into the future to share their expectations, ambitions and predictions in what might be another wild year. We asked two of our MDs from around the world, how they see 2023 unfolding and what to watch across the industry this year.

Joe Sheppard, UK Managing Director (JS)

With 20 years in the Events industry, Joe has been Elevate’s UK Managing Director in arguably one of the most difficult periods global events have ever seen. Rising to the challenge with infectious enthusiasm and a professional approach that has seen some of the most incredible campaigns of both his, and Elevate’s history. 

James Anderson, US President (JA)

General Manager of Elevate Staffing North America and Canada business. James has led (and is leading) major client relationships with brands and their agencies. He’s the brains behind the business pivot towards a focus on healthcare in response to the pandemic, setting up and staffing Covid testing and vaccination sites.

What were the big lessons from 2022?

Simplification, communication and connection – we are a people-powered industry and that means empowering our people. In 2022 we were able to do things in real life much more than the previous year and we saw just how effective it is to have face-to-face interactions with our teams, compared to zooms or emails. Communication is what powers our people and makes our projects the best they can be.

“We connect in as many ways as possible, from video tools and briefings to face to face – having as much face time as conceivable. Because how can we expect to provide brilliant communicators if we don’t communicate brilliantly?”
Joe Sheppard

2022 was a year of strong market forces such as high inflation and low unemployment. As an industry it’s essential that we flex with those changes, and consistently give our people the best possible experience, not just in terms of pay and opportunity, but across training, support and variety of work. This goes for our clients as well as our staff.

“It’s on Elevate as a business to bridge that gap between the needs and budgets of brands and the expectations of our talent to drive success.”
James Anderson

Finally, we expanded into new markets and so this year the whole company will have a wider, even more global insight into how different countries consider work ethics. In Austria we discovered that clients put an extra focus on relationship rather than price, and we’re learning lessons there that will have international impacts.

What are the most exciting prospects of 2023?

Building – momentum, relationships, communities, quality. We’re going to help brands prove the value of experiential activations and events with real data and in-depth analytics. That might not sound that exciting, but it’s the foundation of an evolution of the whole industry. We’re using technology to ensure strategic, long-term partnerships and grow our long-standing clients organically. We are also understanding the value of pivoting to world needs and this year we are looking to expand in the winter sports industry.

“In 2023 I will be building on the great momentum we have, in ways that mean better output and best in class delivery.”

Joe Sheppard

Industry-wide, how do you see 2023 playing out?

One of the main things that has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels is larger scale activations. In the global economic landscape, experiential might look expendable but collectively we can prove that there is value in it. There’s also a fast-moving tech element that we need to be constantly adapting to, the way consumers interact with brands online and their expectations in real life are areas of huge potential – We are developing new tools and ideas and applying lessons learnt to new projects – knowledge sharing across offices, and collectively learning from events is helping us lead the industry through the various challenges we face. We are also intent on ensuring clients understand that face-to-face and product-in-hand are critical means for product awareness and purchase intention. This year is all about knowledge, collaboration, evaluation, evidence and growth.

“Vanity metrics will no longer be sufficient for brands to maintain or increase investment into experiential, there is a fundamental need to evaluate the return on experience.”
James Anderson

How can we encourage brands to invest in experiential?

One of Elevate’s most powerful tools is connection. We connect to our clients’ priorities and our staff connect to our client’s customers. The impact of real life, physical experiences is still powerful. We show brands that they can organically create content, to sell products, to tell stories and to grow. We are offering impactful, long-lasting experiences that are authentic, and offer differentiation. Online is obviously massive, but no matter how advanced a digital offering becomes, it will never provide the same excitement and interaction with our senses. What we provide to brands is a journey, with good body language, good feelings and good sales conversations. This isn’t something that you can do online.

“We offer two main things – authenticity and differentiation. With most brand content being consumed digitally; experiential allows a brands audience to connect with humans and have a real experience that helps brands demonstrate why they are different.”

James Anderson

What will be the greatest client and staff challenges of 2023?

Building trust – Around the world the pandemic has changed the recruitment industry. Building trust through training and opportunities for both people who are sceptical about returning to work, and people looking for jobs for the first time. Both will be vital resources for the industry.

Inspiring confidence – Giving clients the facts and figures they need to invest in experiential with confidence – The tool we’ve developed, Impact is a big part of proving the benefits. We will need to truly utilise that power to build trust in ROI, and show clients that we can show tangible value against their benchmarks. If we can guarantee outcomes using Impact, we can start to look at performance-based remuneration where we partner with clients on risk and reward.  

How do you see Elevate evolving this year?

By continuing to increase our quality, we will increase our growth. We are not just staffing jobs, we are creating true brand ambassadors, having our clients experience the benefits of this will grow our opportunities and increase our capabilities.

In the US our focus is firmly on strategic partnerships with clients at scale. We worked with over 140 different customers in 2022, executing one or more mostly tactical projects, but the greatest successes come when we form strong partnership with sustainable programmatic workstreams, supported by dedicated teams, underpinned with data analytics and tailored tech solutions. In Europe we are planning to become the Austrian staffing experts in both existing and new areas of potential.

“The more and greater clients we have, the better equipped we are to keep increasing the numbers and quality of our people. It’s a beautiful cycle!”

Joe Sheppard

This year Elevate will help brands connect with customers in bigger, better and bolder ways. Using Impact to monitor, quantify and prove ROI we think experiential will be more relevant than ever. To find out more about how we can use data analytics; for ideas about how to bring your brand to life; or just to discuss how and where experiential might benefit your business, get in touch with our team.

Here’s to 2023, may it be a brilliant year for us all.