In an era when products are ordered with the click of a mouse button, customers still crave the in-person experience. There’s no substitute for being able to try a product, whether it’s at an event specifically dedicated to brand immersion or an engaging experience as part of a larger event, like a trade show or conference.
For the many brands now interested in reaching customers through experiential marketing campaigns, it’s important to approach things the right way. Here are four things to remember as you prepare your campaign.
Research is everything
Successful marketing is tailored specifically to its audiences. In order to create an experience that will wow your ideal customer, you need to first understand who that ideal customer is and what they enjoy doing. What demand does your product fill? What approach is most likely to resonate with those customers who need what your business offers? You’ve likely already familiarized yourself with the market in starting your business, so you can put that data to use when planning your marketing campaign.
Once you’ve gotten to know your target market, put effort into deciding the right way to present a brand experience to them. Honda invested in building out the Honda Heritage Center and Auto Plant Tour to show off the history of the company and how they make cars. GE chose movie sets to show off its HEALTHYMAGINATION initiative to stakeholders. Participants could see for themselves the way the project would change lives. When a company sees things through the eyes of the very people it’s trying to win over, it can create a brand experience that speaks directly to them.
Measure your marketing
Marketing campaigns are only as good as your measurements of them. A “big” campaign might create beautiful photos and a fun story, but without the data behind the experience, you will be left with anonymous participants and a lack of understanding of how your marketing spend turned into sales. Imagine for a second advertising on Google AdWords without having access to a dashboard of success metrics.
There are a lot of data points involved in experiential marketing – from the demographics of consumers and how they move about the experience, and data around how their experience changed their brand perception. The closer that you can get to measuring ROI, the more valuable the experiential marketing can be.
Brands like Dor are helping brands measure movements and numbers of visitors walking through your space and understanding foot traffic – a great tool that can easily be used for location-based experiential marketing.
Just like Medallia helps brands measure valuable insights into user flows and online experiences, a growing category of “experience relationship managers” are helping brands measure their live marketing efforts. AnyRoad is a useful platform to measure how experiential marketing affects purchase behavior and brand perception. Having access to this data will help you understand the value of your experiences and will help you direct investments into future campaigns.
Location, location, location
One of the biggest decisions you’ll make as you’re planning your experiential marketing is where you’ll choose to connect with your customers. If you’ve outlined your target demographic, you likely already know where they’re likely to hang out – or perhaps you have a brand home or factory that would be a best location. People love seeing where products are made or marketed and it’s a fantastic way to leave consumers with a strong memory. Invite them in! Ikea has an engaging museum and Nike offers classes to engage consumers, and the world famous Golden State Warriors even offer tours of their Arena to engage with their fans.
Spend time studying your competition. Are there particular ways that they engage with their audiences? Look for gatherings where people who might like your products would spend time, including entertainment-based conventions, work-related industry conventions, and music festivals.
Of course, the most important aspect of any experiential marketing campaign is the experience itself. Some products naturally lend themselves to in-person marketing, since customers feel compelled to try them. Foods like cupcakes and cookies will naturally draw interest, as will the latest tech gadgets that everyone has been excited to try. Engage customers in new ways they hadn’t thought about. Even the most popular products can struggle to compete if they’re among many identical products being offered at events. Look for ways your product is different from the rest and highlight that uniqueness in your displays and brand messaging.
In addition to originality, make sure the experience itself is phenomenal. Make sure the experience you create is of the highest quality to avoid disappointing the very customers you’re trying to impress. There are several tricks that can help, including engaging all senses, contests that encourage people to try your products, and ways to leave them with a memory (photos or souvenirs from the experience).
Experiential marketing connects brands with the customers who need their products. Prior to launching a new campaign, it’s important that businesses take the time to research their target market and find the best way to engage with their ideal customers. As businesses get deeper into their marketing campaigns, they’ll get to know their audience better, which will help as they create future campaigns.
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Image by Katerina Trysh