What’s your view of experiential marketing? Ten years ago, for most marketers, it was just about getting the brand out there by handing out samples and promotional vouchers, or pulling off stunts that got people talking about brands. Today, it’s about creating memorable experiences for consumers and giving them the chance to really interact with a brand.
With so much economic uncertainty, today’s consumers are more cautious, so brands need to assess how consumers respond to different marketing channels. From what we’re seeing at Tribe – particularly in the results of a white paper we recently produced – this means experiential marketing is going to become an increasingly important way for brands to engage with consumers.
What do consumers respond to?
We carried out two surveys at the beginning and end of 2012. These gave us a chance to see how the economic downturn is affecting consumers’ attitudes to different marketing channels, which ones they respond to most and which ones would make them more likely to buy a product.
The results show that well over half of the 1,100 consumers we asked say they prefer experiential to every other form of marketing. In particular, it matches up very strongly against press and radio. But it is even preferred to other forms such as TV, which has a far longer shelf life.
The surveys also show that in today’s economic climate, consumers place increasing importance on product samples and reduced price offers as an introduction to brands. In fact, 48 per cent say they are more likely to buy a new product if they can try it first.
Experiential marketing also scores highly in encouraging more purchases from existing customers, attracting lapsed customers and inspiring repeat purchases.
Overall, according to our findings, experiential marketing increases overall and spontaneous brand awareness, purchases and recommendations by more than 50 per cent. So, if brands are assessing the effectiveness of their marketing channels, then they should be considering experiential.
Bringing brands to life
But experiential marketing is about more than just giving consumers samples and offers. It’s also about delivering a live brand experience that engages them and encourages them to interact with the brand. And our survey shows that it’s far more effective than any other channel in engaging consumers. Over 50 per cent of people say they spend between one and 10 minutes a day engaged with a brand through experiential marketing, compared with less than a minute through TV and Facebook.
To make the most of this consumer engagement, the challenge for experiential marketing agencies is to become true experience-makers. What does that mean? For us at Tribe, it’s about understanding you as marketers, your brand challenges and your audience. And then it’s about developing great creative ideas that wow consumers both online and offline.
Particularly in today’s economic climate, when consumers are cautious, we believe that to bring brands to life you need to go beyond representing them as merely an ambassador.
Instead, we’re developing a group of people who know brands inside out, are passionate about them and who are prepared to fight to give them the exposure they deserve. We call them ‘brand warriors’.
The people who are out on the streets representing your brands need to be as immersed in, knowledgeable about and passionate about your brand as you are.
To be a brand warrior you need to understand the product as well as the guy who made it. Or sell it like the people in the brand’s flagship store. And be able to identify the most likely customers and spend more time engaging with them.
But you still need the personality to involve consumers in a conversation, excite them about the brand and create a real connection that generates sales.
Our brand warriors understand that consumers value experiential as a way of discovering and developing loyalty for a brand. And they make sure that the brand experiences they create are more focused, more enjoyable and, ultimately, more valuable.
To develop these brand warriors requires a change in the way they’re recruited, trained and developed. So, there are no more X-Factor-style auditions where everyone gets the chance to do their party piece.
Instead, we’ve developed a rigorous initiation process, designed to identify the very best people.
We choose them based on their ability to fight for your brands. And once they’ve passed this initiation, we train them thoroughly in the brands they’ll be representing. So, once they get out on the streets, in stores and at events, they’re fully immersed in your brand.
And they come from a variety of backgrounds – from nutritionists and vets to actors, singers and dancers.
But first and foremost, they need the passion and drive to be a brand warrior.
An essential tool
So, experiential marketing is a highly professional and relevant sector that focuses on targeting the right audiences in the right way. And, as our survey results show, brands should be using it as an essential marketing channel. In fact, experiential should be at the forefront of every brand’s creative thinking.
It’s a growing professional sector that’s proving itself for brands time and time again. And, just as importantly, experiential marketing is the channel that resonates stronger with consumers than any other. Not only do consumers enjoy the experiences it offers, but it’s delivering real value and better return on investment for brands than it ever has.
And now, with brand warriors fighting for your brands, you know that you’re being represented by people who are as excited about your brands as you are. And you can be confident that experiential marketing will be one of the most effective weapons in your marketing armoury for years to come.
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