One of the best ways to gain visibility for your brand is to give members of your target market an experience they can’t forget. Not only will they want to come back for more, they’ll talk about your brand to other people who will want to experience it too.
Experiential Marketing is a type of marketing that gives your target customers an experience—something they take part in, encounter and feel first-hand. It differs from traditional marketing in a number of ways, the most important being that people aren’t simply observing (reading, listening, watching), they’re doing.
Customers who participate in brand-sponsored experiences tend to be more loyal over the course of their brand relationships. That equates to more repeat sales, higher average revenue per sale, and more word-of-mouth advertising.
So how can you create experiential marketing that works to build visibility and customer loyalty?
You’re about to find out.
How to Know if Experiential Marketing is Right for Your Brand
No marketing method is right for every brand, and before we get too far into the details of experiential marketing, let’s talk about how you can know if it’s the best method for your brand.
Rule Number One: it’s all about your ideal customer. How does he or she absorb information? How does he or she prefer to make memories? And does the thing he or she needs to do right now in order to solve their problem involve action? And do you believe they’ll be willing to participate in that action?
If your ideal customer is an introvert who is happy to spend time watching the telly and ordering in, then experiential marketing will probably not have the effects you’re hoping for.
If, on the other hand, your ideal customer likes to try new things, connect with people, make their own memories, talk about their latest adventures and experiences on social media (or if they want to be that type of person)…then experiential marketing could be your business’s next big brand builder.
How to Build your Brand with Experiential Marketing
As with any marketing method, it’s imperative that you start with a deep knowledge of your ideal customer’s problem, pain, preferences and needs. Without that, you’ll run the risk of alienating them.
The experience that you choose to give them must be based on what they need; rather than on what you want to give them.
Here are experiential marketing tips you can use as you move forward:
- Verify What your Audience Wants. No matter how sure you are about what your ideal customer wants to experience, verify your impressions with research. Oftentimes, whilst building our brands, we become so personally involved that we assume we know exactly what our customers want. However, we can easily become out-of-touch with their needs. Talk to your target audience members. Ask them questions. Listen to their responses and value their opinions. The things you learn will provide the formula for designing the most bespoke, memorable experiences.
- Create Something they’ll Remember. This is different than creating something generally memorable. It has to be something your ideal customer wants to remember. That means it’s got to be custom-designed for their needs. Are they struggling with stepping out of their comfort zones? Then support them in doing something that challenges them to change their lives. Are they yearning for companionship? Then put them in a situation where they can meet new people, in a secure environment. Extravagance isn’t enough. Shock factor could easily make it memorable for all the wrong reasons. Instead, focus on helping your ideal customer to accomplish something they’ve been wanting to do, but are too afraid or hesitant to do alone.
- Test Ideas First. Every business has a core group of loyalists, and I suggest trying out new experiential marketing ideas on them before you go big. Loyal customers are the most likely to be honest with you because they want to see your brand succeed. Ask them to participate in an experience you’ve created and request direct feedback before taking it to new target customers.
- Make it Share-Worthy. Social media plays a large role in all kinds of marketing, even if those types don’t fall squarely under the category of Social Media Marketing. For this reason, you’ve got to make your event easy to share, and encourage those who participate to share their photos and thoughts with their connections. Social media is becoming a sort of competition. Who’s having the most fun? Who’s taking chances and living an exciting life? Make your brand the reason people are building those types of reputations for themselves, and they’ll reward your brand with their loyalty. And don’t forget to acknowledge their marketing of your brand. Share their photos and posts. Give them credit for making it a wonderful happening…all whilst making them feel like pivotal members of your brand family.
- Make the Experience about your Customers, not your Brand. While your brand-sponsored experience is being carried out, it’s important that you put your participants in the limelight. Of course, you will advertise your brand as you market the event; however, too much focus on the brand will make the experience seem like an attention-grab…when you could make much more progress by keeping the focus on your audience. Do this right, and they will give your brand all the credit for their fabulous experience (which is the best kind of advertising).
- Take the Opportunity to Connect. When people are doing something they’ve been afraid to do, or that makes them feel fulfilled or part of something bigger than themselves…well, that’s the perfect time to connect on a purely human level. Be fully present during your event. Engage your ideal customers in conversation and show genuine interest in their feelings and reactions to what they’re experiencing. Make a lasting impression by showing that you care.
- Give them What they Want Most. Choosing the right experience is important; however, don’t stop there. Whether your audience members are getting makeovers, shaking hands with new people or jumping out of airplanes, be sure to give them a taste of the result they really want. Remember that people don’t buy lamps because they want lamps; they need light. They don’t buy weight loss programmes because they want to be thin; they need to feel sexy and accepted. Recognise the roots of their pursuits and give them an experience that not only fulfils surface needs, but that stirs up the emotions they’ve been craving.
- Create Content from the Experience. Your blog needs articles. Your Instagram account needs photos. Your Facebook page needs more posts to create engagement. Use your experiential marketing event to create content for all of that and more. Not only will you satisfy your brand’s need for substantial, relevant content, you’ll create a reputation for your brand as one that delivers!
- Think Strategically. The experience you create for your ideal customers should have a place and a purpose in your branding strategy. Which one of your goals will it help you to achieve? How will it grow your brand? How will it create visibility? Creating an experience “just for fun” won’t grow your brand. Instead, it’s got to accomplish something specific—something your target audience members want badly, right now.
- Keep Liability in Mind. There is no limit to the types of events you could sponsor; however, I urge you to think about your liability should something go wrong. If the experience you’re offering is of a dangerous nature, require that participants fill out a disclaimer.
In conclusion, if you’re going to use experiential marketing to reach and move your ideal customers, you’ve got to create something based on research, that will strategically endear them to your brand and make them want to share it with more people like them.
I urge you to put the time in before scheduling your event. Remember, this is experiential marketing, not experimental marketing. Creating the wrong experience could actually work against your brand. You can, however, rest in knowing that if you do your homework—if you know your target audience like the back of your hand—you will have a hard time getting it wrong.
Connecting with other entrepreneurs and business owners who have used experiential marketing to build their brands can be invaluable as you work to fashion your own brand’s marketing strategy. You have lots of questions, and you’re seeking proven expertise.
Where can you find that? Whom can you trust?
That’s precisely why the team at How to Build a Brand have created the Brand Builders Club. It’s a place where purpose-driven entrepreneurs gather for strategic brand-building, proven advice from global experts, peer support, accountability and so much more. Email [email protected] to schedule a call so we can determine if the club is the right move for you.