Owning a small business is frequently filled with questions, especially when it comes to getting your brand known among the phalanx of national and global businesses that fill a similar space. With smaller budgets, a smaller reputation, and a smaller reach, it’s an upward struggle from the outset. However, adopting clever marketing strategies that don’t require a large budget can often be a smart way to work. It sounds obvious in one respect, and if it was, everyone would be doing it. However, many businesses, especially smaller ones, look for marketing campaigns and strategies that are similar to those run by other organisations of a similar size, or part of a similar industry.
One way to get the march on the competition, and show your true levels of creativity and innovation is to investigate experiential marketing. It may be an alien concept to some, but in this blog, we look at how even small businesses can benefit from the power that an experiential marketing campaign can have.
What is experiential marketing?
It would perhaps be good to start by getting a firm understanding of what experiential marketing is.
Experiential marketing is often referred to as engagement marketing and is a strategy employed by a variety of businesses to create memorable marketing efforts. Often, the marketing put in place takes the form of immersive live events or experiences that enable customers to engage fully with a brand and its product(s).
Such a strategy aims to forge a connection between the consumer and the brand so that the brand becomes not only memorable but also a voice of authority, innovation, and excitement. Campaigns that embrace experiential marketing will often seek out the active participation of a customer rather than just allow them to watch an advert, read a flyer, or consume the advertisement via other passive means. This means you will frequently see brands running live events, utilising interactive displays, or finding other hands-on ways to have consumers interact and ultimately remember the brand.
This lasting impression created through creative, experiential marketing is a fantastic way to foster a strong relationship between your business and a new audience.
But how do you do it? Especially if the creative juices aren’t exactly flowing. You could opt for help from a creative agency London team like Smyle. They build live events, curate content and work to hit sustainable goals for themselves and their clients, meaning more than one box can get ticked during your marketing campaign. You could also read our seven tips, shown below.
Seven ways experiential marketing can work for small businesses
Small businesses can use experiential marketing to their advantage, but it sometimes takes some inspiration or the guidance of a specialist creative agency. The seven tips below should help lead you in the right direction, but should you need further assistance, look at a creative agency for further guidance.
Define your objectives
It is a well-worn cliché in all aspects of marketing that you must define your objectives before doing anything. And with experiential marketing, it rings true, perhaps, even more so. Your efforts will be gaining live interaction, and if the end result doesn’t lead you towards hitting your objectives, you may have wasted your time and money.
Before hiring a creative agency or plotting your marketing strategy, assess what it is you want from this marketing effort. Do you want enhanced brand awareness? Are you looking purely at sales? Is developing customer loyalty paramount, or do you want to showcase a new product or arm of your business?
Determining this will help guide the way your experiential marketing should lead and what type of experience you should look to curate.
Know your audience
Nobody knows your audience better than you, so you’ll want your experiential marketing to resonate with them. There would be no point in carefully orchestrating a campaign or event that doesn’t tap into their values, age group or behaviours. This is a particular aspect where a creative agency can help. With in-depth analysis, they can build a swathe of information that allows both the business and the agency to learn the right direction to steer the campaign in. With a target audience found the creation of the campaign can begin with much more focus. If you don’t opt for an agency, consider some additional market research before curating your latest marketing plan. Look at who purchases what, who interacts with your social channels, and how much, on average, people are spending. Details like this will help formulate how you carry out your experiential campaign.
Create immersive events or installations
Experiential marketing does not have to be an all-guns blazing, full-on assault of the senses. It can be scaled down or up as necessary for the audience that has been targeted. A pop-up shop for example, is a great way to interact with customers in a location you may be new to. It doesn’t have to take on the vibe of a concert or a light show. Something simple can have just the same effect.
Likewise, a new product launch could benefit from a live music event or a spectacular announcement where samples are offered, competitions are run, and demos are performed on stage. Ultimately, whatever audience you are aiming for, your events should focus on them. Provide something that allows that specific target audience to remember who you are and feel that they were part of it. Smyle, for example, has created live events that utilise our love for digital media, where people attending, as well as those viewing online can be part of the experience.
Utilising technology and social media
Technology has the chance to connect us more than it ever has done before. Virtual reality and augmented reality put us in a different place from the one we are in at the time, and brings consumers closer to the brand, the product, and the people behind it. With gamification part of the offering too – if it suits your target audience – participants are encouraged to share their experiences via social platforms.
Foster engagement and interaction
Live events or interactive displays are there for people to actively become part of, and in today’s world, where things are shared in a click, commented on in a second, and liked in an instant, it is of vital importance you drill this home in your experiential marketing efforts. Look for games, challenges or activities that will encourage your marketing efforts to become a talking point, both online and IRL. By having people interact with your brand, you stand to benefit two-fold. Once through the actual participation by the consumers in attendance, and once by the people online who have viewed the content, shared for free by those taking part.
Build lasting relationships
While people may have fun taking part in, or viewing your efforts, you want them to keep you in mind both now and in the future. Use this interactive, live and/or digital experience to create the opportunity to connect with customers beyond the marketing effort. Collect contact information (ensuring GDPR is complied with), offer incentives for future engagement and follow up with personalised communications. For example, send emails or texts thanking them for coming to the event and include a discount voucher. Consider a VIP invite to your next event, or maybe encourage them to invite friends, and reward them for bringing colleagues or companions to the next event you host. Be smart with data capture, though; a QR code is a quick win as there is minimal effort needed from the attendee. On the other hand, a form to fill out is a no. People are never too keen to write things out, and with GDPR, many will be concerned about how the hard copies of data are used, stored and destroyed.
Measure success and adapt accordingly
Your event could feel like a success, but the numbers never lie, so it is always worth setting metrics to measure the success of your efforts. Smyle for example, uses their own tool called Metric. With it, important campaign data is used to optimise the experience as it happens and after it happens. Using real data, they can measure how audiences feel, see how the audiences participated, and whether the event matched the needs of your business. Dwell time, footfall, conversions, and engagements can all be monitored, too, enabling a refinement of strategy for the next time a campaign runs.
These seven tips can help a small or large business achieve specific objectives through experiential marketing. Large brands for example may look for celebrity endorsements and events, however, the potential for small businesses is still huge. Small-scale events can often deliver much better results. With less expectation, there is a chance to create something memorable for a fraction of the cost. Then, as the business expands, the angles of attack can be altered so that your creative marketing ventures develop to match the growth of the business.
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