Experiential marketing is creating experiences involving brands and consumers, and it is rapidly moving into the B2B space. Here are ten things you need to know about it as a B2B marketer.
Experiential marketing is very definitely not just for B2C – You may be thinking that experiential marketing sounds like a B2C strategy, and not something that B2B marketers need to worry about. However, a massive 73% of millennials working in B2B are now involved in purchasing decisions. Gen Y’s focus on experience means that experiential marketing is now an important tool in this arena.
Experiential marketing helps brands to stand out – The whole point of experiential marketing is that it creates an impression among your target customers by positioning brands as more useful or relevant. In a world where every brand, whether B2C or B2B, is struggling to make itself seen and heard, few brands can afford to ignore a way to stand out from the crowd.
Experiential marketing is ideal for B2B because of the smaller target market – One of the biggest problems for B2C brands is the relatively small group of consumers that will be involved in the ‘experience’ compared with the overall target market, despite the use of social media to share experiences more widely. In B2B, the potential target audience is much smaller, so it is possible to reach a much larger proportion of your market with a personalised experience.
Experiential marketing is nothing new in B2B – Events, conferences and exhibitions are all forms of experiential marketing. They allow potential customers to interact with your brand, and help to showcase its usefulness. B2B brands therefore have a headstart in experiential marketing terms, and in many cases, ready-made forums for further experiences.
Experiential marketing needs to focus on relevance – Some of the strongest uses of experiential marketing are retail showrooms. They show customers how products could be used in their homes. In B2B, a similar focus is needed, to help customers to see how they could use the products and services on a day-to-day basis, and how their use would help to solve particular problems.
Think creatively, because the experience does not have to relate directly to the brand – A recent campaign for The Economist magazine, for example, asked people to taste weird foods, such as smoothies made from ‘ugly’ produce that had been rejected by supermarkets. The idea was to identify people who were prepared to think differently, and who might therefore be more likely to read the magazine. Thinking creatively can create a more engaging experience, even if at first sight it does not seem to be brand-connected.
Experiential marketing also does not have to be expensive – Experiential marketing is a broad church. It covers a wide range of activities, and not all of them have to be expensive. For example, IKEA hosted a store sleepover in Essex in response to a Facebook group called ‘I wanna have a sleepover in IKEA’. The publicity was huge, with almost 100,000 people joining the Facebook group, but the actual cost was probably relatively low—some pampering for the 100 lucky applicants, and the staff costs for the night.
Co-creation is a useful experiential marketing technique in B2B – Co-creation works quite well in B2C, but it can sometimes feel like a bit of a gimmick. In B2B, however, you are likely to have fewer customers overall. They can therefore be involved in designing bespoke products and services that exactly meet their needs—and that you can then deliver.
It is essential to measure the impact of experiential marketing – Just like any other form of marketing, it is important to assess the outcomes of the experiences you are creating. It is hard to do this, but a good start is to talk to the people interacting with your experience and ask their views. In B2B, it is not unusual for sales teams to follow up contact on an individual level, making it easier to see the effect on behaviour of an initial contact via a created experience.
Analytics can help with measuring impact – Experiential marketing hinges on understanding customer behaviour. Analytics can be used to generate insights from data about historical customer behaviour, and drive decisions. Momentum Worldwide, an advertising agency, has recently announced that it is launching an artificial intelligence-based business intelligence platform that will inform its clients’ experiential marketing activity. This is already in use by several of its clients.