Have you ever gone to an event and found out they had free valet parking? Even though you didn’t expect it, you’re able to get out of your car right in front of the entrance and some nice people make your car disappear and bring it right back to you when you need it next. How does that experience make you feel? Well, if you live in a winter climate like me, it’s pretty fantastic. I stay warm AND save my shoes.
Think about your customers’ experience from every point of entry. Imagine they start by learning about your brand on social media, through a friend, or from your website. What does the user experience look like for them? What does it feel like? Does it represent your brand correctly? Does it feel like a natural progression throughout the varied online properties?
How about the experience at the event? Are there servers coming to you with beautiful trays of food for you to try? Is the food easy to eat while you stand holding your drink and a cell phone? Is it messy? Is there lots of garlic? Are the floors carpeted, or is it slippery to walk in your wing tipped shoes? Is there adequate seating or standing room only? How loud is the music? How many bathroom stalls are available to guests? When you want to leave how long does the valet take to get your car? These details need to be considered because they impact the whole experience.
The same planning should apply when considering your brand. Start to finish—and then start to finish again on the next engagement—each touch point matters. In every step, or in each case, your customer is sizing you and your brand up based upon how they “feel” about their experience.
Look at all of the touch points your customer will encounter along the path of experiencing your brand. Does your website sound and look like how you claim to do business? Does your collateral match the website and mirror what your brand promise is to the client? Do you and your team match the brand when they are encountered in person? Does every part of your business ooze your brand and the business mission? Remember that it starts and ends with the valet.
When was the last time you were in a movie theater? Personally, I go often. Recently, I went to a matinee to see one of the latest releases to break up my day. I had two choices, the regular theater or the 3D experience. I chose the regular experience, and between previews the theater had an advertising campaign that said “Experience it at IMAX theaters.” I thought, “What is the IMAX experience?” As soon as I got home, I checked it out and learned, in a nutshell, the IMAX experience is like no other movie experience. What I determined from their website is the people behind IMAX think it’s important that something as simple as a movie should be more like an event. They want it to be an experiential event. And they are focused on finding ways to take that experience to another level.
Their tagline is: “IMAX is Believing.” Exploring further through their website, I realized what that means. It means when you go into a theater, you lose yourself in the movie and forget you’re even there. You are sitting in a dark theater surrounded by other people you don’t know, staring at a screen, but convinced you’re somewhere else. Have you experienced that?
How about something else seemingly less consequential, but no less an experience?
Check out this CLIF Bar box. Their packaging is filled with information on how you can (and should) take an adventure—or have an experience. Even our snacks want us to have an experience! In this case, CLIF Bars wants you to record your adventures and post them for the world to see.
Even something as simple as a gift card can be an experience. Take Giftly for example. You can give Giftly gift cards electronically or by mail and the recipients are asked to share a photo of what they purchased and where they spent it on social media.
So how does all of this apply to experiential marketing? With our movie example, movie executives want us to get lost in the experience of the film. In the case of the CLIF bar example, they desire you have an experience while you eat your bar. With Giftly, they want you to use their gift card to have an experience. And, experiences are events. CLIF and Giftly chose to market their products and tie them back to an event. Make sense? The trick to pulling off an effective event marketing campaign is to identify the target audience correctly and create an experience that remains in participants’ memories. By finding an opportunity to interact with the right demographic of people—both current customers and prospective buyers—a brand can build favorable impressions and long-lasting relationships.
The best, most creative experiences create interactions that not only reflect positively on the brand at the time, but generate a buzz long after the experience is over. Remember, a solution is plentiful. It’s the experience that gets the consumer to buy.