After an extended hiatus during the pandemic, experiences such as pop-up activations, factory tours, and events are seeing a resurgence.
In fact, 90% of AnyRoad’s customers are back running in-person experiences. These experiences offer brands countless opportunities to innovate, build community, share their culture with the world, and create memories that last.
In the series, we share insights and advice from industry leaders offering successful branded experiences and are pioneers in experiential marketing.
But first, what makes an experience memorable?
Experiences provide an opportunity for brands to connect with consumers and capture rich behavioral and demographic data with a transparent value exchange built on trust.
Each of these experiences offers dozens of touchpoints, and each touchpoint is an opportunity to drive engagement and build customer relationships that last.
So let’s dive in! Here are 6 tactics to create unforgettable branded experiences:
- Evergreen Experiences and Content
Evergreen experiences and content remain relevant regardless of the season or time frame. In this context, evergreen experiences balance reaching new audiences, continuously engaging current customers and converting new visitors to brand promoters.
However, creating evergreen experiences doesn’t mean coming up with a strategy and sticking to it until the end of time. You’ll need to regularly improve and optimize your experiential programs’ content to remain authentic and relevant.
An easy way to create evergreen, authentic content is to integrate storytelling and your brand history into your experiences. People love an insider glimpse into their favorite brands, and nothing helps make your experiences more memorable than embracing your brand history and having your team members act as ambassadors through sharing your values and story with the world.
Spirits brands like Bulleit embrace their history and offer uniquely evergreen experiences, such as the Modern Frontier of Whiskey, built in 2017 and open to visitors in 2019. Bulleit Distilling Co. leads the industry with its state-of-the-art technology and offers a portfolio distilled and aged in the Bulleit family tradition, using a distinctive high rye recipe, which gives them a bold, spicy taste.
And remember – great content is educational, relevant, and unique.
2. Prioritize Fun
People love to interact, and the child in us will always love to play!
Brands that understand this principle tend to create a participatory environment that cultivates trust while using experiences to educate and create brand awareness.
Everyone loves to be part of a great experience, and nothing helps people connect with your brand on an emotional level, like incorporating interactive elements or some form of gamification to increase the amount of time your customers engage with your brand and products.
You could do this by developing an experience where visitors can touch or taste your products to appreciate the quality of materials you’ve chosen and get an opportunity to see how these products are made up close. You could even go a step further and invite returning visitors to give you feedback on new products before they’re officially launched to reinforce their loyalty and make them feel valued.
Take Brooklyn Brewery for example, the beer brand has shifted its focus to Research & Development, with experiences like the Small Batch Tour featuring a rotating selection of limited release experimental beers, where the beer-drinking public can provide direct product feedback and share their thoughts. On the tour, visitors learn a bit more about each beer and its brewing process, as well as Brooklyn Brewery’s fascinating history.
And remember – everything is more engaging when you’re having fun.
3. Invest In Your People
Creating brand advocates and cultivating brand loyalty starts in-house. Just like customer loyalty has to be earned so does your teams’ loyalty, and to achieve that, a strong team culture is fundamental.
The first step in building a strong team is introducing a culture that fosters collaboration, solidarity, and open communication. Going the extra mile to involve your team in giving feedback and having team leaders and management model the behaviors you want to encourage in your staff is a great place to start.
Ensuring your team feels comfortable to share their views on what is going well or where they think there is room for improvement is another key pillar to offering memorable experiences.
Frequently, organizations struggle to identify problem areas in day-to-day interactions between their staff, customers, and products. Yet, more often than not, your team will already know where the problems are. They will have suggestions for improvement and ideas on how to solve these problems.
Team huddles are a great way to encourage learning from each other, share tips and best practices, and inspire your entire organization to align behind a common goal – to achieve excellence.
A great example of that is how Stranahan’s invests in keeping their team informed of their guest ratings and feedback and makes it a priority to thoroughly train new employees and empower them to deliver an excellent guest experience.
And remember – your people and culture are the soul of your brand.
4. Embrace Technology
While technology is undoubtedly increasing the opportunities for brands to reach new audiences, consumers tend to spend less than 30 seconds on a website before deciding to make a purchase or leave.
These precious few moments to influence a customer’s purchase behavior are heavily impacted by a brand’s ability to offer a personalized touch and communicate its value effectively.
When optimizing your website, make sure to prioritize simplicity, consistency, accessibility, and commit to a continuous quest to understand your users’ navigation journey and expectations.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to invest in collecting data analytics to drive informed decisions – whether that’s optimizing your website or improving your experiential programs.
When it comes to your experiences, there are a plethora of tools available. Some examples include:
- Voice of the Customer technologies that surface feedback and behavioral insights to help you understand what keeps customers happy
- Analytics and Reporting that help you understand the impact of your experiences
- Experiential Marketing Software that helps you streamline and simplify your operations so that your team can focus on what matters – delighting your customers
And remember – optimization is a never-ending journey.
5. Seek to Understand
Delivering engaging and innovative experiences is the core of experiential marketing, but it has to be done in a way that resonates and is valued by your customers.
As consumers become increasingly more attuned to traditional marketing and advertising, they’re also becoming increasingly demanding. This is why a thorough understanding of what your customers are saying and what drives their loyalty is vital.
The key to collecting valuable customer feedback is demonstrating that you always listen. Companies tend to ask customers for feedback but then fail to understand that closing the loop by responding to the customer and thanking them for their contribution in helping your brand improve is what will set them apart from other organizations.
And don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Customer surveys have the power to reveal game-changing insights, but brands have to keep an open mind, and instead of asking the questions they think are important, they should listen to what their customers say is important. This will promote a customer-centric approach that will increase retention, build trust and reinforce the relationship.
No one can be perfect at every customer interaction, but knowing how your experiential efforts impact your brand will help you focus your resources in the right places.
And remember – knowledge is power.
6. Personalization is Key
Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist, once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
In most cases, “wow” moments are made up of the tiniest details like a smile or your staff knowing your guests’ names and greeting them personally when they walk in. After all, people love nothing quite like hearing other people say their name.
Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Princes Street retail flagship is a master at personalizing guest experiences with the use of new artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to analyze a guest’s preferences in a variety of sweet, fruity, spicy, and smoky flavors found in Single Malt whiskies, and create their personal “Flavor Print” used to recommend a Single Malt whose flavor profile most closely matches the individual’s taste
The skill of doing something small and impactful to create a positive memory is the most effective way to create new brand promoters every time someone walks through your door.
And remember – creating personalized experiences is about being human.
Interactions between brands and consumers have evolved, and today marketers know that experiential marketing is key to creating lasting relationships with consumers. Yet, many brands are still hesitant to fully adopt these practices.
Many of the strategies explained above may sound obvious or seem like common sense, but unfortunately, they are frequently not common practice. And yes, it is a big deal.
We hope that the ideas presented here offered valuable takeaways and would love to continue the conversation with you.
For additional thoughts and advice, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].