Free Lunches Do Exist in Experiental Marketing
I have always held this as a fact of life, a warning even, not to trust something that seems too good to be true. That is right up until I started my career in experiential marketing. As a by product of the information age, traditional marketing channels are becoming less and less effective in influencing purchase decisions and product opinions.
Today’s consumer is still on some level impacted by what they see and hear on TV, print, and the radio, however, with a smartphone in every pocket buying decisions have become far more complex. Companies the world over are realizing their messaging has to be less about the facts (as well informed consumers are already privy to them) and more about the emotional connection people have when they buy.
Nothing can spark that emotional connection better than having a personal experience with the product beforehand.
So how can a company with a multi-million dollar marketing budget take advantage of this changing dynamic? Easy, simply give back to the customer! Companies are spending larger and larger portions of their marketing budgets on these programs and are quickly realizing that it’s worth every penny. Perhaps what goes around really does come around?
Just today I was working on a fantastic campaign in the spirits industry. This program includes a dinner series taking place in over a dozen cities across the US. These dinners highlight the versatility and superiority of their product by perfectly pairing their drinks with courses prepared by a 5 star chef.
And it’s free to the customers!
By now you may be thinking “that’s impossible, there must be a catch!” Well the company certainly does get something out of this, but at no expense of the guests. Patrons were asked at the end of the event to answer a brief survey exploring their reaction to the dinner and the drinks provided. This gives the brand managers valuable insights into the tastes and opinions of their customers. They also gain a few hundred very loyal customers that, with any luck at all, will spread the word of their amazing experience and admiration for the company’s products in general.
The impact and knowledge gained from these programs can be so huge that despite the large price tag the company is still seeing a positive return on investment, a win win for everyone involved.
By becoming informed and involved customers we are actually demanding personal interactions and special treatment from these companies. So as long as you don’t view access to your opinions as proprietary information, there really is such thing as a free lunch in this consumer driven world!
Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sackerman519/4248920671/