Face it: Ads are boring. Consumers crave immersive brand experiences instead, and brands that provide these experiences earn lasting love and loyalty from their audiences. This isn’t about showing off a product — it’s about establishing two-way emotional connections that tie the brand to the lifestyle of its audience.
Coca-Cola is no stranger to this concept. The soda giant’s recent experiential showcase took place at the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Participants enjoyed an augmented reality experience where they could play with the pros. These soccer fans will remember the role Coca-Cola played that day for years to come.
In that way, truly great experiential marketing doesn’t just introduce people to products. The experiences it fosters turn into memories, memories tied long term to brands. And when people adopt brands as part of their personas, they transform into loyal ambassadors.
Of course, memories can be fleeting, so brands need to keep their experiential marketing campaigns fresh, with post-event content. By attending to this goal, brands can keep the momentum going even after the big moment fades into memory.
Want to make your marketing more “experiential”? Give any experiential marketing campaign a boost with these four content strategies:
1. Leverage the voice of everyday consumers.
People tend to trust other people over brands, and that’s true whether they’re close to them or not. Nielsen found that 83 percent of people it surveyed took action based on recommendations from friends and family. And according to TINT, 75 percent of people in its study believed that user-generated content is more authentic.
Brands can benefit from these findings by leaning on the voices of brand advocates and other experiential attendees. These people can spread the word via user-generated content; in today’s society, that usually means social media posts from everyday people.
When consumers talk about a brand on social media, these engagements positively impact social media metrics, boost authenticity and increase visibility.
2. Give influencers envy-inducing experiences.
No matter what the topic — beauty, sports, travel or something totally different — influencers will often function as a North Star for people seeking expert advice and insight.
These influencers are especially popular among younger consumers, too. Fullscreen reported that 54.8 percent of people ages 18-24 in its study trusted influencer posts. And though a smaller percentage of people ages 25 to 34 trust what influencers have to say about a brand — 44.3 percent, to be exact — this is still much higher than the percentage that trust in brands themselves.
Marketers usually think about experiential and influencer strategies separately, but combining the two can amplify the effectiveness of both. We recently worked with The Rustik Oven — a European artisanal bread brand — to introduce its products to audiences in a new region.
Toward that goal, we brought in a variety of culinary influencers for branded cooking demonstrations, including Donal Skehan, a TV personality and food influencer with a strong online following. We also invited other influencers and bloggers to attend. The in-person experience was a hit, and attendees spread the word to their followers. This increased the effectiveness of the brand’s investment.
3. Generate unique branded content.
Just because people tend to trust influencers doesn’t mean brands should abandon their own marketing.
Sure, audiences that haven’t had experiences with a particular brand might not trust its word, but those that already view the brand positively expect a steady stream of high-quality content. When branded content platform Polar analyzed its own content marketing, for example, it found that the average viewer spent nearly two minutes reading it.
People are paying attention to the brands they like, so plan a steady stream of content before, during and after experiences. Give audiences a reason to keep engaging with the brand. And be sure to post content — especially video, which tends to perform better — on multiple channels.
4. Bring in the media.
Any brand can publish a blog post, but earning media coverage can pose more of a challenge. Alert the local media before events, and work with journalists on the scene to earn far-reaching (but free) results.
Cision has done deep dives into earned media coverage, and the results indicate that audiences view earned media as the most authentic form of marketing. The company also had a few interesting suggestions on how to persuade journalists to attend branded experiences. According to the research, 90 percent of journalists surveyed preferred email pitches, while more than half said they were swayed by marketers who displayed knowledge of their interests, clips and strengths.
For the best results, show journalists that the story is worth covering and that the work they do is appreciated.
Each of these tactics has the power to generate awareness on its own. Together, though, they create a cohesive marketing and communications strategy that takes experiential campaigns to the next level. When content extends the moment and carries the brand’s energy to more people, the result will almost certainly be stronger, long-lasting emotional connections.