A recent article posted on BtoB.com identified experiential marketing as one of the top 10 trends for marketers in 2010. The article – titled “Optimism, Accountability, Social Media Top Trends” – stated that “nothing can replace face-to-face communications with consumers.”
We couldn’t agree more.
So, with 2010 upon us we thought it would be prudent to provide you with some best practices in developing an experiential marketing campaign.
Know Who Your Target Is
While this seems to be an obvious point it cannot be overstated enough. All marketing campaigns, experiential or otherwise, start and end here.
Traditional demographics are important to understanding your target but they do not tell the whole story. In today’s fragmented society, consumers have many layers of sub-segments. You have to address all aspects of your targets need states – emotional, physical and social – to develop an experience that creates a lasting, meaningful connection with them.
This is best supported by an article which appeared in the Philadelphia Examiner in June of 2009 titled “Back To The Basics With Experiential Marketing”
“Break free from the traditional demographic parameters you were once taught. Use them as a foundation for defining your target audience, but don’t stop there. Remember, experiential marketing is about the emotions and logic involved in your consumers’ thought process. If Stephen Starr [STARR Restaurants] would have stuck to the straight forward demographics of his potential customers, he would have developed a bland one dimensional dining experience comparable to the same restaurant chains we as consumers are getting bored with.”
If you develop a great experience but deliver it to the wrong consumer than you fall short on connecting with your target in a meaningful way. And, that is at the crux of any successful experiential marketing campaign.
Brand The Experience
In developing the experience, ensure the consumer touch points throughout are branded and uniquely ownable.
First and foremost, your experiential marketing campaign has to showcase your product and brand. It should allow consumers the opportunity to try while providing other relevant information which heightens their overall interest and engagement with your product or offering.
For example, a wine manufacturer executing a consumer tasting is best served to also share wine pairing suggestions and/or recipes for utilizing their wine; common obstacles to purchase for consumers when selecting a wine Brand.
Dr. Augustine Fou, from NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, said:
“experiential marketing is the difference between telling people about features or benefits within the confines of the thirty-second TV spot and letting them experience it and get their own “a-ha!” event.”
Secondly, if you’re tying into a pre-existing event to deliver your experience it has to be organic to who your consumer is and what your product attributes are. Their needs to be a “reason for being” that is greater than sheer foot traffic. Experiential marketing must be quantitative and qualitative. Meaning? Don’t go where the people are; go where you’re consumers are.
The same approach applies if you’re developing an experience from the ground up. As you develop the experience and identify the venues ensure both have a “reason for being” that is organic to your consumer and your product.
Lastly, no matter how good the experiential campaign might be in concept and design, if your Brand Ambassadors are not connected to your product and Brand, the execution of the experience at the consumer level will suffer.
Since the Brand Ambassadors are the one’s engaging in the “face-to-face communication” with your consumer then nothing can replace the importance of having the right person delivering the message.
It’s always best to make sure they are prepared with a list of question & answers and have had the opportunity to experience your product or offering prior to engaging other consumers so that they deliver your message with confidence and in the “first-person” perspective.
Data Collection & Follow-up
Engagement with consumers should not be confined to a single event. It can (and should) occur in many different forms over the course of time.
Brands should view the event like a first date. While people rarely fall in love on first dates they do form first impressions and decide whether or not there is genuine interest. It’s the courtship that follows that solidifies the relationship.
The same applies in developing an experience. You have to follow-up with your audience after you’ve engaged them. Use the event to capture their data and insights and have a strategy in place for post event follow-up.
By keeping the dialogue open once you’ve started the conversation, you’re setting your Brand up for long term engagement with your consumer and in turn, creating Brand evangelists.
Data capture and follow-up also provides measurements against your campaign. Having the right metrics in place for determining success provides more accuracy in determining a Brands ROI and optimizing the program components for future initiatives.
In closing, there are many more “best practices” that we can share with you. Over the course of this year, we will make it a point to bring those practices to you through our blog. In the meantime, these three points should help get you started towards developing a successful experiential marketing campaign. Good luck and if you need any help or have questions along the way feel free to reach out. We’d be happy to help.