Experiential Marketing: Recruiting Loyal Brand Fans
What is experience marketing? As the name suggests, it is about giving customers an experience to remember. Inject some intrigue to capture the attention of a prospect. Take a step back from the constant push of products, sales-pitches. Instead, focus on making an interesting and lasting psychological and emotional connection with the customer through showcasing the values and culture of a company and its brand.
Companies in the industrial sector are making the same mistake that many companies in the consumer market make. Belief that their product is the best product or service and the only option for their customers. This simply, is not true. Consumers become numb to many forms of promotion and advertising. Yes, it’s true, they need to know what your company specializes in. There are occasions when prospects find a product based on an image of a part or a video that says, “Use us!” However, “Now that is interesting!” will always hold more power, long-term, than a product image with a logo.
Experience driven marketing, sometimes called Experiential, or engagement marketing is growing in popularity and effectiveness. It’s a way to get the customer out of their head long enough to actually, create a memorable experience. These events or campaigns are amazing opportunities that every company secretly wishes they could accomplish. The truth of the matter is, with some careful planning, and some creativity, it can easily, be reality.
There are essentially two main categories of experience marketing:
Experience driven marketing does not have to be an event, or even, face-to-face. It is possible to create an experience with equal impact through digital or virtual mediums.
Let’s walk through an example:
Let’s say that a company makes parts for fighter jets. One way to create an experience driven marketing campaign, is to sponsor an airshow showcasing a client’s jet, with a focus on the capability and maneuverability of the company’s aircraft. Create an experience starting at the manufacturing stage, document the process of how the part is made, packaged, shipped, installed, and tested. Then, showcase the fighter jet through its routines in preparation for the show. Follow and interview the pilot. Provide footage from inside the cockpit while in the air during supersonic speeds. Document the whole process. Make videos and use the photos on your social media. Write press releases about it. Create momentum behind it. Build suspense leading up to the airshow then drop as much content during and after as you can. Customers can follow your story and can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
Branded events are another form of experiential marketing. No longer bland networking luncheons or branded trade show booths (although it can be accomplished at a tradeshow), these are customer-centric events, placing the customer’s entertainment at the top of the list. One of the best ways to accomplish a branded event, is playing off something unique. A phenomenal example, and one of the best branded events we’ve ever seen, was a company Christmas party in 2012, Mayan, end of the world party. Every aspect of the evening, from the time people arrived at the door (starting with a walk-through the massive manufacturing facility), to the area where the party was ultimately held, was decorated in a Mayan theme. The gracious hosts even flew in a west coast, Mayan fire dancing team to perform, adding an authentic touch. The evening was unforgettable, creating loyal "brand warriors". People talked about how amazing the company was for decades to come. That is the power of a successful, experiential event.
What makes experience marketing special:
Shareable and Viral
When experience marketing is completed correctly, people will want to share the experience with others. Companies can use this to their advantage and create branded platforms, videos, hashtags, and photos. In the case of a physical event, QR codes can further connect the audience to more digital content, based around the event or experience. This branded content will travel with every user share, increasing the effectiveness of a company’s exposure. A company will be winning the hearts and minds of people, because they created an audience experience.
In large part, these campaigns and events provide excellent exposure. Because of the share-ability and intrigue behind these types of marketing efforts, they tend to be “viral” in nature. Meaning that, people will want to share and discuss them without much company prompting. If the digital aspect of the event or campaign is successful, reach could potentially, far outpace most paid advertising campaigns. The odds of this are compounded when sufficient planning builds suspense, engineering a response. Build momentum towards a crescendo, creating a viral aspect and biggest impact.
Experience marketing has the potential to dramatically, differentiate your company from the pack. Because you are not following the “rules”, a potential customer does not perceive these campaigns or events as a sales tactic. It is, for lack of a better word, memorable and fun, leaving customers subconsciously thinking, “This company gets it. I want to learn more about and tell the world how great this was.” Creating brand fans or warriors and fiercely, loyal advocates, is an incredibly powerful way to ensure you receive the most valuable form of advertising known to man, word-of-mouth. By giving a customer an experience they will reminisce about with their co-workers, you are giving them something to talk about. Something out of the ordinary, something differentiating you from all of the other companies plugging their brochures at a tradeshow or paying for advertising showing how incredible their product is.
Ultimately, any company’s goal is customer retention and conversion. Your company might have the best products and services on the market but the company that gave your customer the best experience will make the sale. What will tell the customer that your brand is unique and different? Is it a Mayan party? Is it a virtual ride in a fighter jet? To reiterate, customers are numb to sales pitches and “Look at us!” marketing. Create an experience, create a customer for life—and all of their industry peers! If your company is looking for ways to creatively provide a lasting impression through experience marketing, contact Nesbit Marketing, today.