How to make your experiential marketing awesome, according to Ready Set Rocket's Alex Lirtsman

We sat down with #YMS16 speaker Alex Lirtsman from Ready Set Rocket to talk about experiential marketing, and using technology to enhance physical marketing. Read on for some great insights:

We always like to start things off with who are you, what do you do, and why do you do it?

I’m a father, husband, writer, cook, adjunct, business owner. I’m the founding partner of Ready Set Rocket, a NYC based digital agency focused on the connected experience. Our clients are breakthrough brands looking to re-imagine how they reach, engage, and convert a consumer in the digital age...they are brands like the NBA, Michael Kors, Univision, North Sails, Deutsche Bank, Seagram’s, etc. We focus on helping major brands innovate at scale. I also am an adjunct and guest lecturer with Columbia University's Masters in Strategic Communication program and Baruch's Zicklin School of Business' Marketing MBA program.

I’m pretty restless...I do it because I want to grow things, either for our clients, as an agency, for companies I’m mentoring, or for my students - I like finding ways to make 1 + 1 = 3.

Ready Set Rocket is an agency that is well known for its work with marrying the physical and the digital - the Kenneth Cole campaign using Google Glass comes to mind. Why is incorporating the latest tech into your campaigns so important?

I don’t know if we ever set out to drop the latest tech into a campaign, but if you have the latest tech like an Oculus that you are playing with, it’s hard not to get excited about applying it WHEN it makes sense.

There’s nothing worse than blindly applying the latest tech without a strategic purpose - when you have a hammer, everything becomes a nail. It’s finding that balance that’s critical. It still truly has to make sense, not just be the shiny object.

Your work on Rihanna’s ‘Nude’ campaign included a custom out of home installation that travelled with the artist on her world tour. How did you come up with the concept and were there any challenges?

We needed to connect and engage a young social audience. It was as easy as that. We need the most effective way of connecting a brand with a teen audience - providing a platform for mass sharing and recognition tied to their favorite artist was a no brainer.

The challenges were all technical - the equipment and software needed to be redundant, no matter how bad the WiFi or 3G signal got, no matter what amount of rain fell, and it needed to be repaired quickly on site by untrained personnel if anything were to go wrong. We literally had multiple back up units, remote diagnostic ability, and 1 button to start the thing. We tested every scenario under every condition before we sent it out to the field.

What are the three key things that make an immersive experience amazing?

  1. It has to natural. It can’t be forced. It can’t be layered. It has to be simple.
  2. It has to be memorable. If it’s fun while you are experiencing it, but you’ll forget about it in a minute, it’s probably not worth it.
  3. It has to be shareable. Immersive experiences are expensive so building it for just the users participating yields no ROI.

Augmented reality, virtual reality and other digital innovations are all everyone seems to be talking about. What are your predictions for how future tech will revolutionise retail?

Product discovery and trial are about to be flipped via VR/AR. It allows any consumer with a device to experience a flagship store with the entire inventory, with no inventory carrying or real estate costs. Experience the Burberry trench no matter where you live, adjust colors as you have it on, build your own engagement ring and see how it looks on your hand, walk through the hotel lobby and hotel room before you purchase. The innovation will be on product trial beyond anything else.

What does the next year look like for Ready Set Rocket? Any exciting new campaigns or projects we can look out for?

Lots of growth, but also going back to basics. How do you build platforms and experiences that not just bleed in the cutting edge and convert, but scale? How do you optimize every part of the customer experience, grow brand equity, and truly align with the audience...a breakthrough brand in the digital age needs to scale across all disciplines to be successful and that’s what we’re focused on.

Alex will be speaking at Youth Marketing Strategy NYC, 21-22 September 2016. Catch more of his insights in the session, 'Physical meets digital panel'.

Get your tickets for YMS NYC 2016 here.