This article was contributed to VentureApp by Patty Sins, founder and president of On The Avenue Marketing, a marketing agency that creates face-to-face engagements that build brand awareness, establish customer loyalty, and increase sales.
Startups have an abundance of options when it comes to identifying and executing marketing tactics. And it’s no surprise that brands turn to digital first. The digital age has simplified the process of brands connecting with consumers. It can be easy, inexpensive, and effective. But how do you reach prospects outside of the computer screen? Do events and experiential marketing strategies have a place in your overall marketing plan?
Experiential marketing is a strategy that companies use to engage prospects and customers, immersing them in their brand, creating interest, connection, and hopefully loyalty. It involves one-on-one engagement. Experiential can come in the form of street teams, mobile tours, pop-ups, festivals, trade show booths, or other “non-traditional” guerrilla campaigns. By providing attendees with memorable experiences, brands stand out from competitors and establish meaningful relationships with prospects. Most importantly, events are an effective way to diversify revenue and if executed correctly can become the ultimate platform to achieve both branding and acquisition goals.
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Here are 5 reasons why your startup should incorporate experiential into its marketing mix:
- Align with your audience.
Events cater to a specific demographic, creating the perfect opportunity to align your brand with its target audience. Upon showing interest in an event, promoters will provide you with the attendee demographics to determine whether it’s the right fit for you. Don’t review just the event – look closely at booth placement and make sure your location will see heavy foot traffic. Take a look at the vendors around you. Are they competitors? Stay away! Are they a well-known brand that will draw attendees to their booth? That could be a good thing. Aligning your presence with a popular vendor or attraction will increase your organic booth traffic.
For those interested in executing a pop-up or guerrilla tactic, do your homework on location options. Decide whom you want to target and determine where you need to go to find your prospects. Maybe it’s outside of a busy subway station during commuter hours or perhaps it’s within a residential area on the weekends.
- Bring your brand to life.
By speaking directly to its customers, a brand demonstrates its commitment to creating a relationship with its audience. This direct interaction expands your network and establishes a shared experience that can enhance future communication. Experiential offers your brand a chance to connect with people rather than just showcase its offerings. Staff your activation with personable, engaging brand ambassadors who know your brand inside and out. Prospects will appreciate an authentic relationship and feel more comfortable speaking about your offerings once they’ve established trust with your brand rep.
Decorate your space with eye-catching, compelling graphics that stand out from competitors. Don’t settle for a standard white booth with an old-fashioned tablecloth. Think outside the box and create an activation that humanizes your brand and generates intrigue.
- Build your database.
We’ve already established that events are the perfect platform on which to create face-to-face engagement. But is your marketing reach over once the event ends? It shouldn’t be. Creating compelling promotions within your experiential program will help generate email and social leads to which you can market post-event. The promotions could include a social contest that requires the use of a hashtag or follow. Identify a relevant prize that ties in with your brand and set the contest deadline a few weeks out so that you can continue to gain followers. Another idea is to incorporate your brand into a fun, shareable photo opp, or encourage prospects to sign up for a free trial.
You should constantly be filling your funnel with email leads and social followers to which you can market.
- Test and learn.
Experiential campaigns provide you with direct access to your target prospects in order to conduct sampling, sales, or product demos. Unlike traditional advertising or marketing tactics, events allow you to tweak your strategy “on the go.” Test and analyze different promotions or sales tactics until you see the results you want. If a sales discount isn’t working, try offering a free trial. If consumers aren’t interested in your pitch, then switch it up.
Events are also a great way to conduct market segmentation. Choose five events or locations that each attract a different type of demographic to determine which demos best fit your brand.
- Generate revenue.
The goal of every marketing tactic is to ultimately generate revenue. Experiential marketing, with the right components, can deliver branding but also actual metrics that will make ROI valuable. Create an “event only” sales promotion that incentivizes customers to sign on the dotted line. After the activation has ended, utilize your newly collected leads and execute a powerful email marketing campaign reminding recent connections about the event sales offer.
There’s value in branding, but don’t overlook the opportunity to also incorporate acquisition in your experiential campaign.
Experiential marketing’s ability to capture metrics, resonate with prospects, and generate value is unparalleled to other marketing tactics. The right face-to-face experiences can make long-lasting, shareable impressions that eventually generate revenue and lead to growth.
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