You’ve probably heard this before: “people don’t just buy products, they buy experiences.” This is true in so many ways.
As one of the largest emerging groups, 72% of millennials would rather spend their money on meaningful experiences, and a whopping 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.
So why not let your customers do both: experience your products and form experiences around them? That, in essence, is experiential commerce.
What Exactly is Experiential Marketing?
At its very core, experiential marketing is about customer engagement on the customer’s terms. Instead of putting the customer in the spectator role (like traditional marketing tactics), you encourage them to participate in hands-on activities that create personal interactions and enhance relationships with the customer to the brand. It is essential to give your customers a streamlined experience between online and offline marketing, and this is what ultimately will drive customer satisfaction and repeat sales.
Incorporating Offline Experiential Events into Your Marketing Plan
The best types of experiential marketing will vary by the type of business you run. For retailers and B2C businesses, your events are more about community engagement, and when done right can be an extremely powerful tool for your brand.
For B2B businesses, experiential marketing is more about building individual business relationships that might eventually lead to something bigger. In either case, events are a great way to collect data and other relevant information on customers and clients that can be used later for direct mail or remarketing campaigns.
Events for B2C Businesses:
These are especially great for businesses that sell their products primarily online or have a home base much further away. This is a great way to show your products in real life and could also be an opportunity to partner with another business to host a community event or pop-up at their store.
Classes are a great way to showcase many of your products or services while also teaching customers a new skill. Classes are also great for Lifestyle type companies like yoga studios or gyms to showcase their coaching.
Food and Beverage Tastings
These have always been a go-to for retail businesses alike; who doesn’t like walking down the aisles at Costco and getting free samples. Oftentimes it will lead to the customer buying the product, even at a later date.
Seasonal events can be a great way to get people out and into your store, especially in the winter months. These could be a Summer BBQ, Fall pumpkin-carving; this is your chance to be creative, because after all, you know what is best for your business! And in 2018 we saw a wide-spread trend of Christmas markets popping up throughout North America.
If you see a local event that you think fits with your store’s message, considering sponsoring it to get your name into the community.
Events for B2B Businesses:
As some of the most popular hosted events in the business world, conferences and seminars really work to get your business noticed and build credibility. You are bringing together like-minded people who are ready and willing to engage with your brand and products and on common industry issues.
Same goes for industry events and trade-shows. Bringing together business leaders in your community can only lead to good things. It will provide plenty of opportunity for a 2-way information and business exchange. Furthermore, demand for Event Apps has increased dramatically (up to 60%) in recent years, and for a good reason. They boost engagement, improve the ability to track data, and create buzz around the event. Consider an event-specific app when you are planning your next business event.
Moving Forward with Experiential Marketing
All that being said, it’s not enough to just entertain your customers. After all, you need them to buy your products to keep your doors open and the lights on.
Make sure that you let your brand stands out. Try to be as creative and engaging as possible and make the event worth talking about. The more unique your event is, the better.
Social media will be a huge ally in experiential marketing. Although much of this will happen organically, encourage customers to post videos and other content about the event. You can even create a #hashtag that will draw it all together. Put the hashtag on all promotional material so it is easy to see. Hashtags will also help you keep track of what people are saying about your events and make it easier to share and retweet information.
If you haven’t already considered experiential marketing techniques, now may be the time to start. No matter what type of business you own, there is a way you can connect with your customers in more meaningful ways to drive your sales and ROI. Experiential marketing is a great way to interact with your customer base and get them out from behind their screens.