3 Ways Brands Can Use Experiential Marketing to Manifest Magical Customer Experiences

When it comes to brand-customer interactions, consumers are demanding more than convenience and great prices. Over the course of the past several years an increasing number of brands have been experimenting with experiential. Experiential marketing is all about creating emotional connections between brands and customers. Human emotions are a powerful foundational driver of human behavior, especially our consumption habits. Brands can use experiential marketing to get people engaged in a brand related activity, triggering emotional resonance between brand and customer, and ultimately leading to a larger number of those customers taking desired actions.

In 2018 we are going to see even more brands putting an emphasis on customer engagement and experiential marketing. In this article we will explore how brands can use experiential marketing to amplify the brand-customer experience in stores, at events, and during rep-customers interactions in the field.

Brands Can Use Experiential Marketing In Retail Stores to Convert Shoppers into Customers

From more convenient check-out options through mobile POS to shop-till-you-drop style giveaways, your in-store experience matters.  When customers step inside a retail store a huge opportunity is created to either develop a new connection, or build a deeper connection, with each and every one of those shoppers. Retail brands can use experiential marketing initiatives to emotionally connect with shoppers, share brand messaging, and ultimately convert those shoppers into customers.

3 Experiential Marketing Ideas for Retail Brands

In order to manifest experiences which will resonate, those experiences must be authentic to your brand while also striking the right emotional cords with your audience. Here are 3 experiential marketing ideas retail brands might consider:

  1. Experiential Product Testing – Looking to promote a new product? Or maybe even get feedback on a product prototype before you invest in bringing it to market? Why not get real user feedback from your customers while at the same time creating a remarkable in-store experience which lets customers “drive before they buy”. Retail brands can use experiential marketing to completely reshape product testing occurs with customers.
  2. Augmented Reality Retail – Many large brands like Lowes are experimenting with augmented reality in their retail store. Think about walking into Lowes and instead of imagining what a washer-dryer set would look like in your home, you can actually see what it looks like through augmented reality. Now that is a valuable, not to mention wicked cool, experience. I’d probably tell some people about it too. How about you? Do you think there is a place for augmented reality in your retail marketing mix?
  3. Experiential Scavenger Hunts – Retail brands can combine retail technologies with creative thinking to let shoppers hunt for special products while they shop. Tie in coupons and other prizes to incentivize shoppers to participate. Oh, and be sure to use each stop along the hunt to as a learning or promotional opportunity between brand and customer. Each interaction creating a deeper and deeper connection between that shopper and your brand.

Brands Can Use Experiential Marketing At Events to Capture Leads

One might say that experiential marketing was born from brands looking to engage consumers at events and trade shows. In a confined space where you’re competing for attention among all the brands who create the most remarkable trade show booth experiences are the brands who stand out from the crowd.

It’s tough to capture attention at trade shows, but those brands who do, activate the contagious nature of booth traffic. Brands can use experiential marketing at events and trade shows to manifest fun booth experiences. Magical experiences spread from attendee to attendee and before you know it your booth is the place to be. Getting people to visit the booth is the challenge, but once it’s overcome, it’s all about converting those interested visitors into leads for future sales opportunities.

brands can use experiential marketing to capture leads at trade shows

3 Experiential Marketing Ideas Brands Can Use At Events and Trade Shows

Events and trade shows are a great place to build and grow brands. Brands can get their products and services in front of new prospective customers. When done right, events and trade shows can help brands capture leads which will ultimately turn into sales. Not only that, but if you also own brick-and-mortar space , events can be a great place to experiment with new experiential marketing ideas to determine if they could work in your retail store.

lead capture banner blog post

Here are 3 experiential marketing ideas brands can use at events and trade shows:

  1. Experiential Fundraising – Does your brand contribute to a charitable cause? If so, why not collect donations at your event or trade show? Brands can create unique experiences around their products and services at the event while tying in a call-to-action for attendees to donate. Perhaps everyone who donates gets a digital photo taken and sent immediately to their phones so that they can easily share it with the world. Donation trackers can be set up throughout the booth. How cool would that be? People learning about your brand, emotionally resonating with your brand, AND donating to your brand’s charity of choice. You can imagine that those who donated in the early part of the event might stop back a few times throughout the event to check on the donation tracker, providing additional touchpoint opportunities. They’ll probably also share the experience with others who will end up popping by your booth.
  2. Virtual Reality  – Virtual reality can help brands bring experiences anywhere. The tech is moving forward quickly and the costs are coming down. Some of the big challenges to initiating certain experiences at events and trade shows are booth space, as well as, shipping and logistics if you have physical materials need to bring certain experiences to life. Virtual reality changes all of that. Using the right mix of technologies combined with innovative thinking, brands can bring new experiences to life at events and trade shows.
  3. Experiential Services – If you’re looking to demo your product, and it could make for an interesting in-booth service, it could be a great way to entice attendees into your trade show booth. As I’m writing this I can’t help but think about the hand massager that I tested the other day. What a great experience that was, especially for a 34-year-old who seems to be developing early signs of carpal tunnel. Do you sell a product that you can build an experiential service around?

Brands Can Use Experiential Marketing In the Field During Rep-Customer Interactions

Is your brand marketing pulled through by a team of sales reps? If reps are part of the marketing mix, brands can use experiential marketing to further engage customers during rep-customer interactions, capture critical customer data, and ultimately take them through a much more emotionally impactful experience.

Whether customers are wowed by the reps use of new technologies to help tell your brand’s story or with the content experience, you want the customer to walk away thinking about that experience, the rep relationship that’s developing, and your brand. Over time these experiences are going to leave a mark and your brand will start to develop many more emotionally-connected customers. Emotionally-connected customers are usually lifelong customers…

3 Experiential Marketing Ideas for Sales Reps

Any time brand-customer interactions occur, an opportunity exists to manifest a magical customer experience, especially rep-customer interactions. Brands can use experiential marketing tactics at the rep level to further amplify the customer experiences which reps are already bringing to life.

Here are 3 experiential marketing ideas brands can bring to life during rep-customer interactions:

  1. Anticipated Experiences – Do your reps call on the same customers over time? If so, can you imagine creating an experience whereby at each rep-customer touch point the rep is manifesting an experience which builds on the next. Each experience would need to be it’s own mini-experience which creates value on the spot, but at the end of the experience reps can create intrigue about the next experience. This leaves customers with the sense of wanting to know more. That leads to anticipating the next rep visit. We all know it’s getting harder for reps to get time with customers. Creating anticipated experiences could help solve that challenge.
  2. Interactive Gaming  – The idea of integrating game strategy into marketing is an old one. That said, it can now be further amplified and mobilized for use any time sales reps talk with customers. Sales reps can use games to engage customers during sales calls to ultimately get them further entrenched with the brand. Gaming is a great way for reps to open prospects up mentally to the idea of becoming customers. Once a prospect is open to becoming a customer, sales become much easier to close.
  3. Anywhere e-Commerce – Through the right combination of technologies, sales transactions can occur anywhere brand-customer interactions occur. The primary objective of a sales rep is to generate sales. Traditionally sales reps sell what’s in their bag. What if their bag consisted of every product your brand sells? With a platform like OnSpot Social, reps can engage customers with brand content through an iPad and at any point trigger an email or text message to the customer’s phone. The text message could contain a link to a specific product page on your e-Commerce store. Purchases can then be made by the customer on the spot.

The Vans Brand Getting Experiential with House of Vans

One very interesting experiential experiment is what the Vans brand is doing with House of Vans. Vans has successfully spent the last few years transforming the tunnels under London into a skate park. Vans now focuses on manifesting magical experiences in their skate park which will ultimately drive far deeper brand adoption within their target audience. Vans resonates with customers through House of Vans. How can your brand go that deep?

brands can use experiential marketing like Vans
Images courtesy of ArchDaily.com

Now, with all of the above being said… House of Vans is a big investment that Vans made in this experiential experiment. From the outside, we don’t know all that went into that decision. What small experiments over time made by Vans enabled them with the confidence to make such an investment, etc. Don’t feel like your brand needs to jump in feet first with an experiential investment like House of Vans. Start small, but think big. Develop a roadmap filled with tiny experiments along the way. Over time those small experiments will provide the information needed to make bigger and bigger bets on experiential for your brand.