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Top five tips for start-ups to tap into the power of experiential marketing

Friday, 11 October 2013 | By Rose Powell

Referring to experiential marketing as the ‘one plus one equals three’ effect, branding expert Meredith Cranmer says the marketing tactic is booming as social media enables one-on-one connections more than ever before.


Cranmer is the managing partner of Because Brand Experiences Australia. She told StartupSmart experiential marketing made perfect sense for start-ups who couldn’t afford the high cost, hit-or-miss expense of major marketing campaigns.


“This kind of marketing is about injecting emotion and having conversation and dialogue with your consumer. It’s interactive and about bringing to life your brand, product and service. The big budget advertising has a lot of wastage, but experiential marketing is about targeting and focus,” Cranmer says.


She says the focus of experiential marketing is creating a good personalised experience to inspire and encourage word of mouth marketing.


“We know that most experiential campaigns will deliver word of mouth, and most people will talk to a minimum of three people. When you remember how powerful word of mouth is you realise that’s huge.”


Here are her top three tips for creating a successful experiential marketing campaign.


Start with objectives, not creative ideas


Cranmer says one of the most common mistakes start-ups make when creating campaigns is to start with a fun, quirky idea and then try to make it fit a customer or product.


“But you have to undertand what you’re trying to achieve first. Don’t come up with great ideas and then try to retro-fit it to objectives. Work out which product you want to promote, and who you want to pitch it to and then get creative,” she says.


She says focusing on just one type of customer while creating the campaign was the best way to ensure you create the most powerful message possible.


“Work out the one person, and work out how to connect with the consumer.”


“Having a massive, lofty target audiences might seem more ambitious, but it makes it hard to create a salient message for anyone. A 16-year-old and 60-year-old are very different.”


Master storytelling and focus on your founder


Experiential marketing is storytelling-driven, and every start-up has a story even if your product is not necessarily easy to excite people about, says Cranmer.


“We often have to deal with very dull products, so instead focus on the founders. The owner or founder may think the product has differentiating features, but often they’re not that different from a competitor. And at the end of the day, people buy people,” Cranmer says. “When you look at start-ups, the best story is usually about the founder and their journey. Never shy away from that.”


She adds Australian start-up Shoes of Prey is a great example of consistent experiential marketing. By focusing on co-founder Jodie Fox’s narrative, they’ve extended one compelling story and through to a now internationally-award-winning store design.


Online and offline: Go to your customers wherever they are


Experiential marketing can be anything from social media campaigns to pop-up stores; it just depends on who you’re trying to reach.


“It’s about finding where your target audience is and bringing it to them. You need to think about what you’re trying to say about your product. The experience needs to connect with who you are,” Cranmer says.


She adds some of the most effective campaigns can be outside of your area of expertise, but are designed to get the time to talk about your company to a target client.


“Experiential is a tactical discipline. For start-ups, we focus on the experience that runs through everything and making sure the customer has a positive experience from the very beginning.”