For too long, experiential marketing was the ‘nice to have’ component of campaigns; frequently perceived in terms of big, splashy events, attractive brand ambassadors and a string of freebies. But it’s fair to say that activations have evolved along with the consumers they target.
A recent study by EventTrack revealed that a staggering 87% of consumers said that marketing strategies in the form of activations reached them in a more compelling way than television advertising. The study also showed that 65% of marketers have seen a direct link between sales growth and activations and live events. Hundreds of Fortune 500 companies participated in this study, which confirms what marketers have known for some time – experiential marketing is good at harnessing the zeitgeist. In other words, activations are associated with strong brand recall; and consumers are more likely to become brand evangelists through a direct experience with a brand.
Activations focus on ROI and ROE
Activations not only increase product sales or ROI; they also generate huge amounts of brand love or ROE – return on engagement. ROE is the measure of how well brands build relationships with consumers, as opposed to how much money they’re making from their purchases. For activations to consistently be more compelling than traditional advertising, brands need to be consistently cognisant of ROE. Building trust, relationships and brand loyalty needs to be an integral part of the activations-to-sales equation as this will have a significant impact on bottom line, even if the return happens further down the timeline.
Consumers want an immersive experience
These days, experiential marketing is central to overall brand strategy, and this change has been driven by millennials – they are not so much interested in ‘stuff’ as in experiences, which suggests that real-time, face-to-face engagement with brands means more to them than traditional forms of marketing. In fact, millennials have nudged older and newer generations towards a more immersive experience, which means consumers as a whole are open to marketing strategies that allow them to connect more deeply with a brand.
Activations equals Competitive Advantage
So how do you use experiential marketing to gain a competitive advantage? The trick is to make the activations component a central cog of the overall campaign strategy. In so doing, the brand provides the opportunity for the consumer to feel, touch and explore the brand – one of the key reasons that consumers buy into experiential marketing.
At a recent Event Marketer Summit held in the United States, Julia Miza from Anheuser-Busch suggested that experiential marketing is imperative for any brand that hopes to deeply connect with consumers. To create trust and win loyalty, consider how your activation fits into the bigger picture and the overall story that your brand wants to convey.
An activations campaign may be a once-off or an experience staggered over a number of weekends; whatever the implementation strategy it should capture the imagination of consumers, showing them not only how a product and service will benefit them but how it can become part of their lifestyle. The EventTrack study shows that brands that can achieve this will win market share – 87% of consumers bought a product or service again after the initial purchase and 70% became regular customers.
If we take it straight back to basics, the reason that brands do marketing is to ensure that their product or service ends up in the consumer’s basket. Activations are highly effective in not only heightening brand awareness but directly impacting decision making at point of sale. As an investment, experiential marketing makes sense – and it could well be the key to your brand’s ongoing success in the marketplace.
By Peter KohlÖffel, National Sales & Client Service Manager, ProActive™
For more information on how ProActive™ can augment awareness and product sales for your brand, call Peter KohlÖffel on 0861 776 826 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM on Twitter @ProvantageSA or go to www.provantage.co.za/proactive