All long-lasting companies are alike.
By that, I mean that they base their core values on experiential marketing. The one thing that determines the success of a company is the fact that it delivers an exceptional experience to its customers.
Think about it. When was the last time you stepped into your favorite fast food joint, knowing precisely what you're going to get? Moreover, you probably knew how the staff was going to treat you and how the process of ordering and consuming the food would look.
Real experiences have much more significant impacts on our senses than abstract ideas and, therefore, stay in our memory for longer. According to a study from the International Journal of Supply Chain Management, 100% of respondents (customers) said that brand visibility experiences induce curiosity in them about a particular product or a service being offered.
The definition of experiential marketing
Every marketer will give you their view of experiential marketing. It comes in many forms. It's also called "live" or "engagement" marketing and serves as a tool that encourages the customer to take part in an activity your brand organized.
Those activities often look like random happenings. However, they are carefully planned events to drive brand awareness and teach customers about your company and products. Sadly, not every company knows how to deliver a top-notch event.
What's more, a badly executed experiential marketing campaign might look like a publicity stunt or a way to push your product on customers. People don't like brands pressuring them into making purchases. Even worse, such an event could damage your image in the industry.
The most critical factor in your customer reach is engagement, so if you still haven't done so, start learning about your customers and tactics to create a successful campaign. Experiential campaigns take longer to execute but are far more rewarding than your regular social media campaign. Plus, they can give you more repeat customers than the ads you put on Google.
Why experience brings value
To strategically plan an experiential marketing campaign, you will have to forget everything you know about digital marketing strategies for a second. Social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing and similar forms of advertising can personalize your customer's experience to a certain level, but they will never come close to building the real interaction between a person and a brand that in-person experiences do.
Traditional marketing tactics help with an already established customer base and can give you data on potential customers. However, they are only visual and verbal and can't get to the customer on a deeper level.
Experiential marketing, on the other hand, is a "3D" version of a marketing campaign. It makes the customers dive into the brand much easier and much faster than they could through the screen.
Here are the three values experiential marketing creates for your company.
1. Customer engagement
Besides going out to gatherings and events, people love to brag to others. The single most valuable factor of the campaign experience-wise is customer engagement. An innovative strategy can create the need for posting on Instagram or Facebook. If people are genuinely interested in your event, they'll share where they've been. In other words, you can essentially build your online visibility without investing in digital marketing. The numbers only go in your favor. According to the most popular social network stats, Facebook still leads the game with over 2.2 billion monthly active accounts, while 1 billion monthly active users use sixth-ranked Instagram.
2. Media coverage and online visibility
Recent e-commerce statistics showed that 68% of customers would trust a business if they see something positive about it on the internet. Once you successfully create engagement, your campaign can attract other forms of marketing (also in a free form). For example, events in small communities often get significant media coverage. Although I said before to forget everything about digital marketing strategies, let's return briefly to them. Your successful event-only experiential campaign could have indirect digital marketing effects and give you the online visibility you would typically create with digital marketing.
3. Building brand affinity
There are many brands like yours out there. Customers easily switch between brands, so you must come up with a way to retain them as long as possible. One effective method is to give them authentic interaction at an event. Experiential marketing campaigns ensure your customers will learn more about you firsthand and be able to test out your products for free. You'll then slowly build brand affinity and generate better sales.
Types of experiential campaigns
Knowing now why experiential marketing brings value, let's see which types of such advertising you can choose for your company. It will depend on the kind of service and the product you offer, as well as the preferences of your target audience.
1. Product testing
Everyone loves free stuff, especially if it's their favorite brand handing out the products. You can organize product testing with free samples of the product. This will not only engage the participants, but bring new potential clients into the picture.
2. Organizing a workshop
Another type of campaign is a workshop. Here, you'll need an expert who will guide the customers through the class or a practical workshop, but it can be quite rewarding. Your customers will learn a thing or two about how to make something, and you'll have a significantly larger customer base once word of mouth spreads from the satisfied workshop participants to the potential customers.
3. Having a tour of the facility
If you have a production facility nearby, make sure to organize free tours (with the option of testing). Why? Because now more than ever, customers like to know the origin of the products they're buying. Let them know how you do it and lead them through the process. This kind of engagement stays with them for a long time because they experienced your brand in its entirety.
How you can implement experiential marketing in your strategy
- Research your target market. Ask yourself why users want to connect with your brand, what exactly motivates them, which channels they prefer, and what you can do to give them what they need.
- Come up with a message you want to send. Create an event around it and decide which marketing channels to use based on your previous research.
- Announce your event. Digital marketing channels will now come in handy, since most of your audience probably uses social media. Announce it on all your channels, and consider livestreaming the event as it takes place.
- Partner with a reputable name in your niche. If you know any company that could share the event with you, great! Invite them to partner with your company. Find a sweet spot between your services and the services from the partner company. What I mean by that is, you have to see the ways one company can complement the other and show it to the audience.
- Talk from the heart. Once you get to the event, make sure your words get through to the customers. Be honest and show them your product in a way they have never seen it before.
- Go live. During the event, it's best to film the event and broadcast it live on Facebook, YouTube or any other platform that enables live video streaming.
What do you think?
Do you believe experiential marketing is the future of customer engagement? If so, start learning more about it and implement it into your strategy. Your customers and your business will profit from it.