At its core, any marketer worth his salt is trying to craft a spark in the customer's mind that will turn into a desire to make a purchase. Nowhere is this truer than with experiential marketing.
Seventy percent of B2B marketers cite event and experiential marketing as their top tactics, defeating both blogs and social media for the top position on the leaderboard. With something that important influencing your brand, it is time for CMOs to ensure consumers are having the best experience at your event.
It is not too hard to understand why experiential marketing has taken the event world by storm. As NVE Experience Agency president Brett Hyman puts it: "The right moment will transfer someone forever. An event is an extremely potent marketing vehicle for a brand to connect deeply with a consumer on a cognitive level." Companies like NVE excel at producing one-of-a-kind special events that instill those connections with consumers, all while measuring the key results of an experiential campaign.
Humans are tactile creatures, and 65 percent of the population is made up of visual learners. Essentially, consumers want to see something to believe it, and that includes the display of a brand through its events.
The results of a good event can be seen directly at your company's bottom line. In a 2015 poll, 65 percent of brands said that their event and experiential programs had a direct impact on sales, and 79 percent said that they were planning to execute more event and experiential programs than the year prior.
With all that in mind, here are some key steps to take make sure your experiential marketing event goes off without a hitch:
1) Reflect your brand's core values in your event.
It isn't only Millennials and Generation Z who are obsessed with aesthetic -- anyone with a pulse can recognize when two things don't complement each other. For example, a grocery store owner should not throw a music festival; instead, it should throw a food truck Friday or farmers market. Ask yourself what your target market would want to see and how it aligns with your brand story; then, plan from there.
Eventbrite, the world's largest event technology platform, recently conducted a study that found that Millennials are spending increasingly more money and time on experiences than material goods. They want to immerse themselves in a culture -- and through proper planning, that culture could be your brand's. Authenticity is key, along with tangible examples and engagement across multiple social media platforms.
2) Hold giveaways that have a shelf life.
Promotional items should be more show-stopping than a stress ball. Make sure your giveaways don't simply end up in a junk drawer with a dozen other branded pens. Give your audience members something they will actually want -- the shock value alone of a meaningful gift will make your brand memorable. Do research on popular items that won't break the bank and will serve as a talking piece for consumers.
3) Employ brand ambassadors to be your walking billboards.
As the saying goes, great artists steal. So why not follow in the footsteps of marquee companies like Yelp, Lululemon, and Red Bull that use local influencers to do their marketing for them. Red Bull's "Wings Team" is comprised of college students who market the brand's lifestyle of energy and excitement. Yelp has an "Elite Squad" of individuals who are recognized for their contributions of well-written reviews and tips.
Although both Red Bull and Yelp have different approaches to brand ambassadors, their main idea behind them is the same. Instead of simply being seen as middlemen between a company and its consumers, brand ambassadors are the ones who give a company life beyond its corporate offices. So it is imperative for you to spend the right amount of time recruiting, training, and building relationships with your ambassadors to guarantee their authenticity with your audience.
4) Encourage shareability that still feels personal.
Every event should shoot for some level of mass appeal, but memorable experiences require a personal touch that makes attendees a part of the fun rather than just spectators. By doing so, you cut through the clutter of regular marketing with a truly immersive experience.
According to Ian McGonnigal, chief growth officer of Kenwood Experiences, "What we are able to do is recreate and even go beyond what you experience in a digital environment in a physical environment." McGonnigal and Kenwood have made it their goal to create personalized experiences that make valuable connections with customers, creating Instagram-able moments that excite both attendees and the public at large.
By following these steps, you can make sure consumers have a positive experience at your event -- and, therefore, a positive association with your brand. Focus on making a lasting impression. This relationship-building will then spread like word-of-mouth wildfire -- eight out of 10 people who take part in an experiential marketing event are more likely to pass your brand on to a friend. Those are odds you can't ignore.