Small businesses have unique, localised advertising needs and are often subject to financial and logistical restrictions when it comes to marketing. So which approach is best – promotional or experiential marketing?
Promotional marketing, such as discounts and offers, focuses on creating an incentive to persuade consumers to take action by immediately purchasing a product.
A recent UK survey found that promotional campaigns produce a higher ROI than radio and outdoor advertising and one equal to that of TV commercials and print ads. 56% of the people surveyed felt more favourable towards a brand after receiving a promotional item and 79% said that it made them likelier to do business with the company.
However, giving things away isn’t always an option for businesses on a budget. So how can small firms compete with larger rivals?
For starters, they can focus on localising the nature of their campaigns and developing memorable ways of differentiating their messages from competitors. A niche can be a valuable commodity. Large companies often won’t bother targeting small segments of the market – and that opens the door for smaller specialised companies to flourish.
Experiential marketing techniques provide opportunities to directly and creatively engage potential consumers. One of the simplest ways of achieving this is by celebrating success or growth with the local community. Whether a business has opened a new location, launched a new product or won an award, take advantage of this opportunity and throw a bash, offer a limited-time service or sponsor a charity event.
Actively participating in your local community by sponsoring school or sports teams, operating a stand or entering a contest at a local fair, hosting an annual public cook-off will make customers happy and appreciative. Those feelings will, in time, foster trust, loyalty and provide an incentive to support your business.
Inspiring word of mouth is key to drive small business sales. A recent Nielsen survey found that 49% of consumers say that friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness. And another study revealed that 77% of consumers are more likely to purchase a new product after learning about it from people they know.
The more involved a business is in its community, the more of a stake the community will take in the business. By directly engaging with local consumers, small businesses have the advantage of building real relationships and appealing to customers’ emotions. That’s how experiential marketing can deliver results – even on the cheap!
Copyright © 2014 Duncan McCaslin, director of Kreate.
Business advertising spend in the UK hit a new high of almost £14bn in 2013 and is set to increase to £14.8bn this year. But are businesses getting their money’s worth?
Personally, I doubt it. And the reason is that most businesses will miss out on one essential ingredient: experience.
Experiential marketing helps consumers contextualise the narrative behind your product and service.
Let’s take perfume as an example. Perfumes are, functionally speaking, a mixture of ingredients that produce a pleasant smell.
But people don’t wear perfume for the constituent parts; they buy it for the experience, they buy it in the hopes that they will feel attractive and desirable, and they buy it to give them a sense of confidence.
How is this experience achieved? By creating a holistic experience of the product.
It starts with advertising. Perfume ads usually feature a model sauntering around looking sexy; there is usually a husky voice saying abstract words like “adored” or “eternal”; and there is either lots of colour, for fun adventurous brands (think Joop!), or black and white, for brands that focus on being sexy and powerful (such as CK).
Next comes the in-store experience. The bright lights of each perfume shelf, the imagery displayed nearby — all are designed to continue the experience.
The bottle is also key — it takes the experience from store to home. Some are rough and jagged, others are sleek and curved.
And every time the customer uses the product, they experience that vision.
You might say: “But my business is in accounting software, not perfume.”
But you can still apply the same thinking. Experiential marketing relies on bringing together five distinct dimensions into one holistic experience:
Feeling. What will it feel like to use your product or service?
Sensing. How do customers physically sense your product?
Thinking. The experience still needs to take into account the rational, logical value of your product or service. How obvious can you make the benefits of your product? Can you illustrate its potential with a demo?
Acting. What behaviours will your product help to facilitate? Changes in behaviour can be highly motivational and empowering, such as Nike’s classic Just do it tagline.
Relating. How does your product or service link the customer to others, or even to a projection of their future self?
As the Chinese proverb goes: “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”
Copyright © 2014 Richard Edwards, director of event and customer experience specialist Quatreus.