Your One-Step Guide To Drive Experiential Marketing In 2020 For all the creativity that the ad industry gloats about, the truth is that customers hate to be interrupted with anything they perceive as commercial.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Let us get the facts straight: many consumers hate advertising, and spend their time flipping between channels and blocking pop-ups. For all the creativity that the ad industry gloats about, the truth is that customers hate to be interrupted with anything they perceive as commercial. They want ad-free streaming and no ad breaks– just content, as is.
How then do you engage an increasingly elusive audience, no matter how much digitization has disrupted media consumption, and opened up new channels to capture eyeballs?
The answer is pretty straightforward– and buried in the question itself: you engage them. You create a meaningful, emotional connection that inspires them to interact with your business in the real world. Ads and commercials, then, cease to be distractions or intrusions, but form part of the experience.
That, for the uninitiated, is experiential marketing. But what does this mean for brands or businesses? Quite simply, you create an experience that is mutually beneficial for both the brand and the consumer– a principle which is very much at the heart of the business model of my startup, Surkus.
Through digitization, and in particular, platforms like Surkus, experiential marketing has now opened the doors for businesses of all sizes, to attract new customers, as well as reinvigorate their connections with existing ones. As emotive marketing, it helps tell your brand's story with conviction and in a compelling and holistic manner, without making your customer feel intruded upon. In doing so, you don't simply reach out to customers– instead, they become part of the brand journey, and look forward to engaging with the brand. The whole exercise enriches you with more real and tangible insights about what and how your customer feels about your brand.
Here are five key considerations for businesses to draw upon the enormous potential -and cutting-edge value– to be gained from experiential marketing this year. These insights are gleaned from first-hand experience of building Surkus, serving as the only experiential marketing app in the world.
1/ SLASH YOUR COSTS, RAISE YOUR PROFILE
With large-scale experiential campaigns making headlines around the world, it is not uncommon for businesses to regard this as an expensive exercise. But it's time to debunk that myth: experiential marketing is rather cost agnostic. It rides on creativity, and flies high on your willingness to push the boundaries.
With the right mix of creativity and planning, experiential marketing can be successfully integrated into your business plan at a fraction of the perceived cost. Transparent and with success-based pricing, emotive marketing can –and must– be regarded as your gateway to meaningful brand engagement with your customers this year.
2/ WIN OVER YOUR CUSTOMERS (AND RETAIN THEM)
Today, marketing solutions are as fragmented as the number of channels that exist. A marketing plan in this day and age is a confusing cocktail, ranging from PR outreach and omnichannel advertising to event discovery, market research, and influencer campaigns. Your brand is ultimately being pulled in multiple directions, almost in a desperate bid to be seen, heard, and discussed.
But how many of these channels, in their true essence, take into consideration customer retention? Very few, if any. For small or medium businesses, investing in these multiple channels continues to be a hope-against-hope journey that their campaign will hit the bull's-eye. Experiential marketing steps in as the game-changing platform –because it justifies the cost associated with measurable returns– and more so, in its value to attract and retain customers.
3/ ENSURE YOU ENGAGE THE EXACT AUDIENCE YOU WANT TO TARGET
A one-size-fits-all campaign that zeroes in on your exact target audience is still a utopian fantasy. It comes as no surprise then that brands need to draw upon multiple channels to help execute their marketing plan effectively.
This is where experiential marketing has the power to revolutionize your campaigns, and provide you with a perfect window to zoom in on your desired audience– and deliver measurable results and tangible ROI in the process. By making your desired customers a part of the engagement exercise, today, with several high-profile events across attracting large volumes of people, such as GITEX, Dubai Active, Cityscape, Dubai Fashion Week, to name but a few, you have credible avenues to successfully drive experiential marketing campaigns.
4/ BE REAL, NOT VIRTUAL
It is human nature to seek real-world interactions. While digital influences and social engagement are making strides, a large majority of people (customers are human first) continue to prefer the touch-and-feel over virtual/social/ digital experiences. After all, as the old adage goes, didn't the good ol' telephone unite the family, while the mobile device divides it with distractions, even in the most sacred spaces like the dinner table? Experiential marketing, whatever the platform you use to implement it, builds a sense of real engagement– one that is important for sustained brand recall.
Through algorithms and data-driven insights, your customer interests and behaviors are evaluated to tailor experiential marketing campaigns that make a difference to your brand. With Surkus, for the end user, there is practically no distraction as it guides your desired customer to events and offers that benefit them and their interests, in turn, cutting down unimpactful advertising spend.
5/ SOCIAL AMPLIFICATION
Experiential marketing does not ignore the power of digital. It serves as the most compelling conduit for your brand to amplify its voice on social. It is indeed the best of impactful role-play reversals. As opposed to a social influencer, appealing to the virtual world to "try this-brandand- that," you have a stream of actively engaged followers, experiencing your brand first, and taking the message to the wider world. That is the sort of social amplification that your brand needs all day, every day, to drive true brand loyalty and long-term retention.
What's becoming increasingly clear is that experiential marketing breaks many myths associated with traditional advertising through its power to connect customers and brands in a seamless journey where the aspirations of both are aligned. Overriding cost concerns, creating target-specific channels, magnifying your voice on social, and yet remaining authentic, this new channel is a powerful idea that has the ability to radically transform how businesses interact with consumers.
By implementing the powerful tools of experiential marketing, and addressing the very real disconnect between what customers want, and what we as an industry are giving them, advertisers and brands can leverage these learnings to provide meaningful campaigns that transcend the traditional boundaries of advertiser and consumer.