Ever heard of experimental marketing? Once upon a time, it used to be called engagement marketing. The idea was to engage with your audience in a hands-on event, and the experience would encourage the attendees to tell everyone about YOU. Sounds fun. And expensive. And maybe really not that useful.
I mean sure, if your target market lives in Manhattan and works in Times Square you throw a giant event in Times Square – you might be set. But for most digital business owners, their target market is a little less localized (unless you strictly have a brick-and-mortar, but that will be its own blog post).
Sure the event would be fun, you get to connect to your market, potentially expand it, and provide a unique experience. Maybe you do e-sports, and you host a live events where people compete while sitting next to each other. Maybe you have a podcast and you have a street team that hands out goodies promoting it. Or perhaps you have a piece of technology and host an event that allows people to test out the product and play with it.
Just think of the possibilities. And think of the expense. The data analysis of choosing a city to do this in. The cost of flying equipment and product, hiring people to plan and run the event, the product you will lose/giveaway….the costs go on and on. Now of course this is an investment. You are trying to create experiences that will stick with people, be memorable, and encourage people to advertise for you. But how do you know that the investment will work? How do you measure the Return on Investment (ROI)?
Now conversely, put yourself in the consumers shoes. Think about your favorite brand, maybe you can buy their product at the convenience store down the street, or any e-commerce, or only their website. It doesn’t matter for this example.
They choose a city to host an event in. From their side, they have evaluated what cities buy their product the most, they’ve considered prices to set up an event, and who would actually attend said event (along with a host of other factors). Now they set it up, advertise the heck out of it, and spoil this city. In the consumers eyes – THESE are the companies number one fans. These people deserve it more than anyone else, and even though you buy their product daily, you don’t deserve anything because you aren’t important to them. They aren’t rewarding all of their customers, only the ones they deem worthy. Doesn’t exactly sit well with you does it?
Maybe it seems dramatic, but to someone loyal to a company to receive a proverbial slap in the face from them, it can be enough to encourage someone to test out the competitor.
So whats a company to do, you want to engage customers, you want your customers to become advocates for your product and brand, and you want to reward people for being loyal? Time to think outside the box. Here are 5 ways to create experiences for your customers and how to turn each experience upside down.
- Loyalty programs: So you want people to become or remain loyal? We all have grocery store loyalty cards, and understand the process of receiving points from purchases that add up to prizes or gift cards. So how can you make this unique? Well the good news, loyalty programs are severely underutilized so just implementing one can set your company apart from competitors. But if you really want to differentiate yourself – maybe go beyond monetary awards. Try emotional ones instead. Are you a coach? What about offering a group coaching class to reward top tier. Do you have a high end product? What about a private community group for those who invest?
- Street Teams: You often see street teams for radio stations, people who act as representatives for the station and hand out goodies to listeners. So how can you use it even if you don’t have a radio (or podcast)? If you blog, leave hints as to where to find freebies or discounts for your products. Consider the local park, or your Facebook page. Leave physical or digital footprints and create a scavenger hunt for your fans. Gain additional fans by partnering with other companies your target market would like and have them hide clues in their webpages, blogs, and social media as well.
- Live Events: I know we just talked about the downside of live events, but what if you tagged into someone’s event-such as a parade, festival or convention, and it was live streamed to everyone on social media? And those online watching the live event could be rewarded just as much as those live.
- Get Involved: This is the easiest one! Ask questions, get opinions from your fans! There is a soda company that uses submitted photos on their labels.
- Mobile Apps: Have an app, or creating one? Encourage users to USE it in different ways, and reward them by unlocking hidden areas of the app for additional features, games, discounts etc.
The key takeaways are USE TECHNOLOGY and INVOLVE EVERYONE. Don’t limit your fan interaction to a handful of people that may or may not end up buying or promoting your business. This is no way an exhaustive list, or even a unique one. Just think outside the box. Where are your fans hanging out, and how can you reach them in a fun way? Focus on engaging with the customers you already have, and trust me – more will come your way!
So how will you use experimental marketing into a strategy for your company? Let me know in the comments below!
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