May 2016

Experiential Marketing to Millennials: Younger Generations Put More Value in Experiences

By targeting millennials, brands have the potential to build loyalty early on and, ultimately, to establish lifelong relationships with their customers. The concept is simple, but reaching young customers is another issue since millennials – those between the ages of 20 and 35 – have a more complicated relationship with advertising than older generations.

Many millennials don’t respond to traditional mass advertising techniques in print or digital media, since they are already overwhelmed by the unprecedented amount of information and data available today. In fact, millennials are more likely than other generations to use online ad blockers or paid video streaming services to escape advertising altogether.

What millennials want is a personal experience with your brand and your product. If that experience is real, rather than print or digital, it makes it all the more powerful. Because the young value personalization and experience more than others, experiential marketing is an incredibly effective way to reach millennials.

Make It Personal

Brands often view experiential marketing as an innovative advertising strategy. While it’s true that personalization is the future of marketing, it is also a return to the more intimate vendor-customer relationship that predated mass production. Millennials were born into a world where anonymity was the norm instead of the novelty it once was. As a result, they crave personal connection.

The personal connection doesn’t have to be particularly deep. The 2013 Coca-Cola “Share a Coke” campaign, for example, simply printed a popular name on every coke label. Launched with region-specific names in different markets around the world, the single, successful campaign increased the brand’s Facebook fans by 6.8%.

Millennials like to feel like they’re your brand’s only customer, whether it’s because you printed their name on a bottle of coke or because they had an amazing experience with one of your brand ambassadors at a promotional event. These personal connections drive sales more than mass availability and anonymity currently do.

Who Cares About the Joneses?

Overall, millennials value experiences over products [1]. Perhaps it’s a result of growing up in a world where the prosperous take commodities for granted. Perhaps it’s a result of studies that show experiences make people happier than things [2]. Either way, millennials care much less about keeping up with the Joneses than their parents did.

The backlash against consumer culture isn’t necessarily bad news for brands since, if you can demonstrate how your product supports a specific experience or lifestyle, you can still sell it. Experiential marketing, particularly the staffing aspect, establishes this link between your product and the experience or lifestyle it represents.

Today, passion and truth are everything in marketing. Brand ambassadors are successful because they truly embody the product and lifestyle they endorse and give customers a glimpse at the experiences they could have with your product. Brand ambassadors are successful because your brand is their personal brand.

Peer Pressure

Millennials are infamously more willing than other generations to share personal information – including the brands they like – online. They are, then, incredibly effective agents for turning experiential marketing campaigns into social media word of mouth campaigns, which experiential strategies like the Instagram printer aim to do.

Because social media spreads word of mouth further than traditional media, brand ambassadors no longer need to be independently famous to have an impact. Millennials build a persona online around what they want to represent becoming, essentially, a willing brand ambassador themselves.

 

[1] Millennials: Fueling the Experience Economy. Available at: https://eventbrite-s3.s3.amazonaws.com/marketing/Millennials_Research/Gen_PR_Final.pdf

 

[2] The Science of Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things. Available at: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3043858/world-changing-ideas/the-science-of-why-you-should-spend-your-money-on-experiences-not-thing

Event Staffing for Your Company Culture

In the last decade, the concept of organizational or company culture has entered the business administration lexicon with force. A way to describe an organization’s collective values, beliefs, and principles, company culture has redefined the way people work together. It’s also redefined the way brands market themselves and their products.

Companies like Google, Facebook, Atlassian, and Mecca Brands consistently use the happiness of their employees as a brand selling point. It personalizes their brands, a process that, especially in the faceless technology industry, is key to getting people to like you. Thanks to the well-publicized work culture of today’s biggest innovators, the way your company and event team works together is on the minds of your potential customers.

At a product launch, experiential campaign, or brand event, brand ambassadors represent your company to numerous current and potential customers. Make sure, then, that your brand ambassadors accurately reflect the strengths of your company culture with these fast tips:

– Go for personality over looks. If you wanted two-dimensional, you would have stuck with print advertising. Being good looking never hurts but, as long as your staff is clean and presentable, it is so much more important for your brand ambassadors to be passionate, engaging, and creative.

Remember, your brand ambassadors don’t just represent your product. They represent your company culture too. Hire a brand representative, then, like you would hire an employee – look for vision and depth first.

– Find the collaborators. Company culture is all about breaking down the rigid norms of dominant corporate culture. While professionalism is still top, a strong sense of hierarchy is no longer a desirable quality in an employer or employee. Companies like Facebook pride themselves on a collaborative company culture that every employee contributes to.

Find the brand ambassadors/event staffing firm that works well with your current marketing team, but isn’t afraid to bring their/its own strengths to the table. Representatives who are authentically invested in your event will work harder to spread your message to potential customers.

– Keep up team spirit. Group energy – basically what you get when you break down company culture into its most basic component – is infectious. At events, potential customers are drawn to an energetic team faster than they are drawn to one charismatic individual.

Make the most of group energy by bolstering the excitement and morale of your brand ambassadors with positive, but honest feedback. For example, update your team when they make progress towards achieving the goals your marketing team has set for the event.

Your target customers want to patronize a specific type of company, whether or not they’re aware of it. Sure, everyone goes into a store with a shopping list and a price point, but many other things influence what we ultimately buy in the store. Marketing is all about drawing out the intangible reasons customers make purchases, including company culture.

Make sure that the company culture that your executives talk about is consistent with what people see at your product launch, experiential campaign, or brand event. For many potential customers, your event will be the first, maybe only, time they make contact with brand representatives. Use the event, then, as an opportunity to brag about how well you treat your employees and to sell your company culture.

How to Handle Common Promo Event Problems

Promotional events are dynamic affairs. Not only are event goers themselves constantly coming and going, but unplanned incidents can throw a spoke in the wheel of even the most meticulously organized event.

Your brand has a chance to make exactly one impression on each event goer as he or she passes through your booth. Make sure it’s a positive one by preparing your team for these common promo event mishaps.

  1. The technology’s gone rogue.

Technology doesn’t always work the way it is suppose to. PowerPoint crashes. The wireless network is slow or unresponsive. Your hardware goes haywire. We’ve all been there.

Everyone occasionally deals with a technology malfunction from time to time, but, unfortunately, nothing screams “unprofessional” more than technical difficulties during a presentation or event.

Depending on the size of the event, the number of attendants could overwhelm both the local network (if the event offers free Wi-Fi) and the mobile network.

If you’re using an Instagram printer or another experience that links to social media, it’s best to carry a backup network just in case. Have a booster antenna or hotspot on hand for emergencies.

If possible, download video, audio, and presentation material ahead of time instead of streaming it. You have limited time with each event goer. Don’t waste it explaining that the technology isn’t working.

When it comes to software and hardware problems, good staffing is key. Ensure that your team knows how to run the technology effectively. Always include someone with the experience to solve tech issues on your team.

  1. A queue.

So many people are interested in your product that they’re queuing up outside your booth or event. This is the problem every brand wants to have.

Although flattering for the brand, queues often leave event goers feeling bored, frustrated, and restless. These aren’t exactly the attitudes you want potential customers approaching your product with.

Ensure that your booth is adequately staffed and that there is plenty of space and seating for event goers. It’s better to have too much than too little.

If a queue starts to form, you’ll most likely have to move event goers through your booth faster. This means your staff has less time to engage each customer. If you anticipate a high volume of attendants, plan your marketing strategy around short-term engagements.

  1. Your product sample or product prototype broke.

Eh, sometimes it happens. Luckily, there’s a real simple solution – bring an extra everything!

  1. All the handouts have been handed out.

Experiential marketing is about building brand awareness and loyalty, not necessarily about driving sales directly. A handout keeps event goers thinking about your product afterwards and pushes them to make a purchase.

Whether your handout is a promotional gift, a leaflet, a voucher, or a discount code, running out of them means losing potential sales. Ensure, then, that you always have enough to go around. Just like with booth space and seating, too many is better than too few.

In the excitement of a product launch or promotional event, a solid team of brand representatives keeps the event running smoothly and ensures a maximum number of positive engagements with potential customers.

Successful event staff responds proactively to problems by communicating effectively with the rest of your team and, ultimately, just going with the flow of the event.

Personal brand: How brand ambassadors are changing the face of product endorsements

From Nicole Kidman for Swisse to Hugh Jackman for Quantas, high profile endorsements are still big business for Australian brands. Increasingly, however, companies are turning to experiential and social media marketing to feature more assessable brand ambassadors in their advertising campaigns.

This new wave of brand ambassadors or micro-endorsers (i.e. the PromoPeople people) has several advantages over the traditional celebrity spokesperson. All and all they are more modern, more approachable, more authentic, and less expensive.

  1. Big media has fallen, and taken big endorsements with it.

In the hay days of big media, the success of a brand and ambassador pairing depended almost exclusively on the public profile of the ambassador. The more coverage traditional media gave the ambassador, the more valuable the partnership was for the brand.

In the last decade, the internet has changed everything. The widespread use of ad-blockers and pirated or paid video streaming diminishes the value of traditional advertising, even online. At the same time, it is less important for a brand ambassador to have a public profile, since everyone now has an public profile online.

  1. An approachable brand representative is an effective one.

Less famous brand ambassadors do what celebrity spokespeople never could – make recommendations to potential customers directly. At an event, product launch, or promotion, brand ambassadors connect with event attendants as peers.

Potential customers trust peer recommendation more than any other type of advertising [1]. This makes brand ambassadors potentially more effective than celebrities at influencing individual sales, since it’s easier for attendants to connect with less famous brand ambassadors.

A real life person is also particularly engaging in today’s device-centered world. For their audience, celebrities are rarely more than two-dimensional. Actually, in a world glued to mobile devices, much of life in general is two-dimensional. Brand ambassadors add engaging dimension to flat advertising.

  1. Combat cynicism with authentic representatives.

Social media has made everyone’s lives public, which means that, on the one hand, the authenticity of celebrity endorsements is under a constant microscope and that, on the other hand, anyone can curate and share the personal brands they choose.

Today, passion and truth are everything in marketing. Brand ambassadors aren’t successful simply because they’re famous anymore, they’re successful because they truly embody the product they endorse. Brand ambassadors are successful because your brand is their personal brand.

Companies are now able to turn to up and coming local celebrities – like Ashley Hart for 2015 Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, for example – or to unknowns who embody their brand message and values more authentically than Kidman or Jackman could.

Because social media spreads word of mouth further than traditional media, brand ambassadors no longer need to be independently famous to have an impact. People build a persona online around what they want to represent becoming, essentially, a brand themselves.

  1. Less famous brand ambassadors are a better value.

    For most companies, the price point of a celebrity endorsement is out of reach. Brand ambassadors humanize a brand, just like an endorsement does, but costs companies significantly less.

 

[1] http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/90-percent-consumers-trust-earned-media-form-advertising/138468