Build Customer Loyalty Through Experiential Marketing
As the demand for personalized connections grows among consumers, so does the need for retailers and brands to build experiential marketing programs to engage with their audiences. Well-executed experiential events are effective because they evoke emotions, stimulate senses, and help build relationships between retailers and consumers. Below you'll find some ideas to help build a successful experiential marketing program.
One of the most important things for retailers that are just beginning with experiential marketing is to start small. Don’t think you need to blow out the budget. It’s best to start small and see what works for you and your customers first.
Pilot programs can be the start of an experiential marketing campaign. By introducing a pilot program, the retailer doesn’t have to make a large commitment right off the bat. It can instead test different ideas and see what resonates best with shoppers.
Single events, as opposed to ongoing programs, are also an option. Retailers can start their experiential marketing campaigns with grand opening or reopening events. A grand opening can help a retailer deliver the best first impression, using trained, experienced brand ambassadors to build a relationship with the customer right from the start. There’s no commitment for the retailer beyond that single event, though many choose to do additional because of the sustained excitement they generate.
Create a Concept
Retailers should know their customers and have an idea of what they want their experiential marketing program to achieve. Having a clear vision for the outcome is critical for operational success. To identify concepts and build themes, rely on in-depth shopper and community research to create concepts that are unique to each program. Brand ambassadors can also provide critical direction, as they can determine what will resonate with consumers who live in the local community where a retailer or brand wants to host an event.
By researching and aligning with core customers, retailers have a better chance of ensuring the success of any event marketing program. Finally, by identifying the goals for the program, retailers can measure success in terms of attendance, social media mentions, leads and post-event sales. These metrics will guide the development of the program.
Build a Staff That Embodies Your Brand
Front-line staffing is a critical aspect of executing a successful experiential marketing campaign — and often the one that needs the most support.
Retailers developing their own programs might at first consider staffing events with existing associates, but that does come with some disadvantages. When retailers have their own staff do an event, these employees are frequently pulled away from their regular jobs. These interruptions make it hard to consistently execute and measure the outcome of an event.
Another cautionary piece of advice is to consider the impact on staffing when trying to save on budget. When you pay a higher hourly rate, you tend to get a higher-quality brand ambassador, ultimately providing greater return on investment.
Pay Attention to the Finer Details
When it comes to planning, execution or any other aspect of ensuring a successful program, you have to pay attention to not just the big picture, but also the finer details. Depending on the program, this may include everything from supply logistics to ensuring all staff that handles food is food-safety certified to tracking and analyzing measures of a program's outcome (e.g., sales lift, loyalty sign-ups, consumer impressions) in order to calculate ROI.
Program consistency and continuity are critical to producing successful events that reinforce the brand experience and provide the ultimate payoff.
Ryan Dee leads the business development team at Interactions, a provider of innovative retail solutions and experiential marketing for retailers and brands.
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