By Chanda Singh
In today’s crowded marketplace, making your brand stand out is more complex than ever. Customers are presented with an overwhelming variety of options, granting them the freedom to pick and choose the product that best suits their needs. It is true of virtually any sector – from electronics to soft drinks that every business faces severe competition from its rivals. In this scenario, how does a brand mark itself as unique?
The answer lies in recognising that brands are, in many ways, just like people. Each one has its own story, history, personality, and relationships. And all of these things are built on the experiences consumers have with a brand. Thus, brands that look to make a lasting impression on their target audience must seek ways to strengthen these ties and ultimately create a loyal customer base. In today’s marketing environment, events offer the ideal avenue.
Live events form the cornerstone of experiential marketing. By associating their brand with unique, memorable, and enjoyable experiences, marketers can create a positive association between these feelings and their brand in the mind of their audience. The greatest strength of this approach is that a live event doesn’t need to confine itself to the brand’s values. It merely requires creating an experience valued and appreciated by the target audience. In doing so, a positive association brews between this experience and the brand.
Technology has played a significant role in this state of affairs. The advancement of new technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) has given experiential marketers new tools to experiment. The availability and affordability of these back-end technologies have increased productivity and driven efficiency.
These are the key factors that will drive the explosion of experiential marketing in the coming years:
Building an emotional connect
The strongest driving motivator for purchasing decisions is how a buyer feels about a brand. Their engagement with the values and story espoused by a brand is what makes a sale rather than other more practical concerns. According to a 2020 survey, 83% of consumers are more inclined to buy from a brand they feel emotionally connected to.
It is an approach that the traditional marketing fraternity has long relied upon. For example, campaigns for luxury brands sell a lifestyle and a sensation far more than they do the product. Similarly, athletic brands focus on promoting a mindset and an attitude. Experiential marketing provides a chance to take this emotional connection to the next level and offers audiences a deeper and more meaningful way to connect with brands. The result is a loyal and passionate consumer base.
Personalising the impersonal
The ultimate aim of any marketing campaign, no matter its shape and size, is to promote a brand to a customer and create a perceived connection between the two. Traditional marketing channels limit the extent to which the bond can develop. A viewer remains a passive observer during even the best television ad or Youtube promotion. Experiential marketing offers brands a platform to bridge that gap and offer consumers a way to actively participate and experience the brand. Personalisation is a vital component of experiential marketing – customised invitations, branded goods, and one-on-one interactions with brand reps. Immersing a customer in an experience leaves a long-lasting impression that’s hard to compete with.
Experiential events as a community-building opportunity
Creating an experiential event involves a substantial investment from a brand. It is especially true for forms that otherwise the direct majority of their marketing budgets towards less cost-intensive online channels. As such, it’s only natural for a brand to question the value of this approach. However, unlike regular marketing channels, experiential marketing is well poised to drive enormous marketing value through the generation of user-generated content (UGC). UGC is any content and material created by a user and posted online. It can take varied forms, from audio-visual material such as pictures, videos, and music to reviews, blog posts, and captions. In an age when the public craves authenticity and a personal connection with brands UGC is an ideal solution. A memorable experiential event is an ideal platform to kick-start this approach and deliver enormous value to a brand.
In the wake of the pandemic, the marketing landscape has irrevocably changed. If a brand is to succeed under these circumstances, it must embrace experiential marketing as a pivotal part of the field. A business that does so is well on its way to building a stronger brand image and a community of loyal fans to go with it.
The author is CEO of XP&D. Views expressed are personal.