Can Experiential Marketing Work In B2B?
Allowing consumers to sample B2C products like food, spirits or beauty products goes a long way toward increasing sales. But sampling works in a B2B setting as well. Business consumers like to try technology solutions, office furniture and building products before they invest in them. The more knowledge they have about products, the better job they can do of making a case to their boss about why they need to purchase them. It’s also more likely that they’ll remember that company’s products and services when they get home from a conference, trade show or other event.
Experiential marketing draws additional effectiveness by building a positive association between brands and consumers. Activations provide participants with fun, meaningful experiences that help them understand and appreciate a brand’s culture. That positive association makes consumers more likely to support the brands that gave them the experience.
It’s easy to see how this works in B2C marketing, but the truth is it works just as well in B2B. People are people, no matter what environment you put them in. Even when they’re at work, business executives like to have fun. Consumers want to have fun and meaningful experiences in the workplace as well as in their personal lives.
Now that you know why experiential marketing makes sense in a B2B setting, here are some of the places where experiential marketing can have the greatest impact.
Conferences are a terrific place for marketers to make meaningful connections with B2B professionals. They’re also a place where professionals want to kick back and have a little fun (while still meeting their business goals, of course). What better place to plan an experiential marketing activation?
Factory 360 partnered with PayPal, which has B2B and B2C services, to create a memorable experiential marketing activation at LeWeb Paris. PayPal partnered with Uber on something they called “Meet the Speakers, Mobile Office Hours.” Conference attendees could apply to take a 30 minute ride in an Uber car with various speakers and presenters. During their trip around town they could ask questions and make a personal connection with these high-level executives. The program was extremely successful and left conference attendees with a very positive view of both PayPal and Uber.
Many B2B consumers travel to trade shows to find the latest and greatest things in their industry. Companies are always looking for ways to make their booths more interesting than their competitors. If you’re not already doing it, you should incorporate experiential marketing into your next trade show exhibit. If you can make your booth the most exciting and innovative one on the floor, you’re more likely to get a huge audience.
Medical technology company Siemens won an award for their experiential marketing activation at the Radiological Society of North America trade show in 2014. A 290-foot high LED archway was so visual that people could see everywhere in the event space.
Once inside the exhibit, Siemens used a variety of different exhibits to engage consumers with different interests and learning styles. People who enjoy interactive exhibits could try out MRI software on iPads. People who wanted to observe could check out the life-sized model of a human brain that demonstrated what happens during a stroke. People who like to touch objects could feel a realistic model of a liver while they learned about the organ. Siemens reported a 16.8% increase in traffic and a 26% increase in consumer knowledge of the company as a result of this very effective trade show exhibit.
Think about where B2B marketers go when they’re not at the office, and see if you reach out to them there. Are their restaurants in town where businesspeople frequently go for meals? Are there social or athletic clubs that cater largely to corporate executives?
Your efforts don’t have to be limited to a business setting, either. SAP made a big experiential marketing push at Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014. As an AdAge commentator points out, most brands that organize experiential marketing events for the Super Bowl are B2C companies. SAP is a B2B company. Where do they see the pay-off in being at pre-Super Bowl events?
In this video, Dan Fleetwood, a Group Director at SAP’s Global Sponsorship arm, explains that SAP thinks it can reach and impact company decision-makers along Super Bowl Boulevard. It makes sense; most of the people who can afford to attend a Super Bowl are wealthier, which means they’re more likely to be business owners or senior managers. By showcasing their products in a setting where few of their competitors thought to go, and doing it in a fun and engaging manner, SAP likely saw good results for their experiential marketing efforts.
Monsanto took its experiential marketing efforts to the communities where its customers live. They took a customized 53-foot trailer to farming towns throughout the country and invited potential customers to come by.
Farmers were first invited to eat lunch together and visit with each other. Once they went into the trailer, Monsanto showed a short movie featuring former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner that highlighted its commitment to research and making farmers successful. After that, farmers could meet with someone who educated them about the company’s products, and allowed them to ask questions and give feedback.
By giving people a meaningful experience, sharing the companies values, and then making a soft sales pitch (which incorporated questions and feedback), Monsanto was able to exceed its outreach goals for the campaign.
Is your B2B company interested in doing more with experiential marketing in 2016? Factory 360 can show you how to do it right. We’ve planned a variety of activations for B2B and B2C companies over our history. There’s nothing we enjoy more than helping brands get creative about new ways to reach out to consumers. Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help.