Customers enjoy memorable experiences (cue the gasps). It shouldn’t come as a great surprise that the ‘Peak Stuff’ theory really has been vindicated lately. It points out that a good live event can be more valuable to the consumer than a product on its own. And it’s right.
A storytelling device for today’s customer
Since 1987, there’s been a 70% increase in US consumer spending on live experience programs. Going global, three quarters of businesses with event budgets of £40-80 million expect their ROI to be 5:1 for experiential marketing.
Brands are becoming increasingly aware of the need to do more than create a good product and wait for the sales to roll in. The customer of 2017 is well-informed and mindful of the subtext that underlies a purchase. They care about the context and consequences that surround the services they use. More often than not your offering is no longer capable of selling itself, no matter how pretty a bow you tie on it.
The balance of power has shifted and the customer is in control. Which means brands must go above, beyond and sometimes further than that just to survive. In other words, they have to tell a deeper story than they have been up until now. And if a picture can tell a thousand words, then the narrative faculties of an experiential event could probably be likened to that of a medium-sized novel.
The all-important ‘moment’
65% of marketers report a direct link between experiential marketing and a boost in sales. And 98% of consumers cite a similar bond between positive experiences and their tendency to purchase. For both the marketer and their audience, live experiences work.
Today’s marketing is said to live and die by the sincerity of the customer’s ‘personal moment’. That seminal snapshot in time where they become utterly enamoured with a brand and it’s product, and the sale is all but assured. Clearly live experiences boost the frequency of those moments. If you can bring your customer face-to-face with your product and its capabilities, they’re probably going to be more likely to take notice.
Getting experiences right
Cottoning on to the importance of experiential marketing is only half the journey, though. Delivering a memorable event means delivering value, which isn’t as easy as it may seem. Value is a slippery term in marketing circles. There’s no pinning it down to a single definition because it can mean different things to different customers.
To some it’s a binary dichotomy: will this product make my life easier or won’t it? To others a brand’s moral and ethical standing is the heaviest weight in the purchase-scale. But when it comes to a live experience, the value lies in supplying the audience with a sense of control they wouldn’t otherwise have at the mercy of more traditional forms of marketing.
Live events have a more porous nature than your typical vendor-to-customer conversation. They have nooks and crannies that the customer is free to explore at their own leisure. Basically, they provide the customer with the opportunity to experience the power of your brand for themselves. This gives them the opportunity to make their own minds up for a change. And, when presented with a choice between their own gut feeling and a jargon-riddled sales pitch, there’s no prize for guessing which one the customer will go for.