Traditional marketing approaches have tended to treat consumers as passive recipients of messages, but today’s connected consumer has come to expect two-way interaction. That being the case, many companies are turning to live, one-on-one experiences to connect consumers with their brands, transforming the old role and perspective of consumers as a mere audience.
This marketing strategy — experiential marketing — asks customers to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience, a powerful technique to engage the people you want to attract. According to a survey conducted by EventTrack, 65 percent of consumers say experiential marketing helps them have a better understanding of a product or service, amplifying reach and enhancing the brand perception that influences purchases.
We’ve gone this direction at Zen Media in our partnership with Chase for Business, and we’ve learned a lot about the value of creating a total experience for customers.
Our “Social Media Genius Bar,” designed to optimize and add value to Chase for Business conferences, offered attendees a chance to sign up for a 15-to-20-minute conversation with one of Zen’s own “social media geniuses,” giving them the chance to ask questions about how best to leverage social media and, more broadly, digital marketing, to their advantage.
The Social Media Genius Bar was such a hit that we began to think about how we could scale and evolve the activation. How could we reach more people, and make a bigger splash? That line of thinking was the inspiration for the Chase BizMobile, a mobile consulting trailer that can literally meet small business owners where they are and provide advice and complimentary consultations.
Chase for Business had realized that so many customers needed knowledge, expertise, and resources that weren’t available to them locally—and that empowering their customers, helping them build their businesses instead of just offering banking services—was crucial to building a longstanding relationship. Instead of it being “we’re the bank and you’re the customers,” it became a matter of teamwork and common goals.
The opportunities for this type of approach are endless, and summertime and experiential marketing blend very nicely. Here are some examples of how other companies are leveraging experiential marketing and making hay while the sun shines, and what you can learn from them.
Santa Margherita Winery: Be the brand that brings people together.
A world-renowned Italian winery, Santa Margherita is bringing the Italian winery experience to U.S. consumers throughout the summer. The company is hosting experiential pop-ups in key markets nationwide to showcase the brand’s Pinot Grigio, Sparkling Rosé, and Prosecco Superiore wines, inviting consumers to celebrate casual, party-like dining with friends and family during the season as part of the company’s Behind the Vine tour.
In addition to pop-ups planned in Los Angeles, New York City, the Hamptons, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Denver, Santa Margherita is supporting the tour with a combination of paid, earned, and social media and influencer support with #BehindTheVine and #UncorkExtraordinary hashtags.
Lexus: Connect customers with their best self.
Lexus partnered with the 2018 U.S. Open Championship in June at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, to immerse fans in the golfing experience. Aspiring golfers used a simulator to analyze their swing, practicing on a virtual version of the Shinnecock course. Lexus also hosted a photo space where visitors could take a photo with the Open trophy and send it to themselves, a tip of the hat to Father’s Day on June 17, during the Open.
Disney: Educate for the future.
Disney is keeping kids (and their parents) occupied at children’s museums around the country this summer with the McStuffins Toy Hospital on tour. This interactive exhibit combines fun and learning based on Disney Junior’s award-winning TV series Doc McStuffins. Children are invited to help Doc perform toy checkups in the ER and care for baby dolls in the nursery by singing a lullaby or changing a diaper, the idea being to encourage nurturing behaviors. Animal lovers can also visit the Pet Vet, where they’ll take their toy pets for grooming, scan the pet using a pretend CAT scan machine, and listen to Doc’s diagnosis and treatment for their animal friends. Play and hands-on activities are designed to share valuable lessons about health and wellness.
Monaco Cocktails: Get yourself an invite to the best parties, and make an impression.
The summer festival season kicked off in June in Chicago with Spring Awakening, a three-day electronic music event drawing about 100,000 mostly millennial attendees at a park in Little Italy. Monaco Cocktails, a Chicago-based manufacturer of canned fruit-flavored cocktails, engaged consumers with experiential marketing brand experiences as an event sponsor. For example, festival attendees were treated to a “Silent Disco,” a covered outdoor space where they could put on headphones and dance to a DJ only they could hear. Giveaways included Monaco drink samples and branded items such as suntan lotion, bandanas, and water bottles. “Photo op walls” expedited visitors’ social media activity, encouraging selfies and online postings to help build the Monaco buzz. Of course direct sales of Monaco beverages were a requirement for the brand’s participation in Spring Awakening.
What we’ve learned:
All of the above examples demonstrate how experiential marketing allows your brand to establish connections with consumers, physically bringing your audience and your brand into contact with each other, setting your product or service apart from the crowd. This leads to loyalty—especially if you can show them on the spot that you can help them reach their larger goals, whether they be having fun, growing their businesses, or feeling connected to their communities.
An experiential marketing initiative can grab the attention of media and influencers, showcase you as an original thinker who provides experiences in a unique way, create “shareable” free social media exposure, and craft lasting brand experiences appealing to almost all of the senses. Experiential marketing boosts brand awareness and product preferences, leading to sales and going beyond your all-important digital marketing efforts.
As you contemplate your marketing strategy, take some time to analyze your audience and consider how you could incorporate experiential marketing into your planning efforts. Contemporary consumers want something beyond listening to a pitch. With plenty of summer weather still ahead, and so many consumers with leisure time beyond what they have during other seasons, this is the ideal time of year to build your brand by bonding with consumers over a memorable experience.