June 28, 2016
Most articles on experiential marketing give advice for companies that sell products to consumers. This one is different. This article has recommendations for companies that market services to consumers.
Experiential marketing is an ideal strategy for service based companies. After all, service based companies have the same goals as product based companies. They want to increase sales and profits. And they recognize that one great way to do that is to build brand loyalty and create meaningful two-way relationships with consumers.
Experiential marketing can help any company accomplish these goals. It does it by creating a positive association with the brand in the consumer’s mind; allowing consumers to experience what the company has to offer with their senses and emotions; and offering meaningful rewards to people who are willing to give the brand a chance.
So how is experiential marketing different for service based and product based companies? In many ways, there’s no real difference. The same strategies and techniques that work for product based companies can be used by service based companies as well. Let’s take a look at several examples below.
Product sampling for service based companies
If you’re a food, beverage or spirit brand, it’s easy to give out product samples. The same is true if your company sells paint, e-cigarettes, office supplies, make-up and a number of other goods.
If you run a service based company, you can absolutely give out samples of your services. It may take the consumer longer to experience what you have to offer, but that just means you have more time to build a relationship with them. If you’re promoting a beauty parlor, offer free hair braiding or mini pedicures. If you’re a wellness center, have your masseuses do five minute chair massages. If you’re a carpet cleaning company, roam the parking lot at major events and ask people if you can clean their vehicles’ carpets for them.
Attending community events for service based companies
One of the nice things about attending community events such as county fairs, health-focused events or school information sessions is that people expect to walk from booth to booth gathering information. They don’t necessarily expect to have life-changing experiences or come away with bags full of swag.
If you’re a service based company, use this to your advantage. Attend these events and do what all the product based companies are doing. Hand out pens or balloons with your name on it. Give away a few raffle prizes. If you do offer an in-depth experiential marketing activation, it will be more memorable because fewer people will be doing it.
Factory 360 has a long-standing relationship with Chase Bank. They hired our agency to jazz up their experiential marketing events at community gatherings with the goal of generating more checking accounts. Over the past 12 years we’ve come up with a number of fun activities to engage consumers and get them talking to brand ambassadors about the benefits of banking with Chase. Thanks to our work, Chase nets an average of over 240 new checking accounts at every community event it attends.
Sponsoring and offering engaging opportunities at events
Many brands choose to plan experiential marketing activations at events that are already taking place. Music festivals, trade shows, fashion shows, conferences, major sporting contests and similar events draw huge crowds to popular venues. If someone else has done all the work of getting an audience to come to you, all you have to do is plan an unforgettable experience.
Service companies do just as well as product based companies in these settings. Many consumers attend B2B events looking for new business services as well as new products. We’re willing to bet an equal number of consumers are just as happy to discover an amazing or inexpensive new service at a B2C event.
Uber is one of the most talked-about service companies to open in the United States in recent years. Factory 360 partnered with the ride-sharing service and PayPal to create a memorable experiential marketing activation at the LeWeb Paris conference several years ago. The activation was called “Meet the Speakers, Mobile Office Hours.”
Conference attendees applied to take a 30 minute ride in an Uber car with the event’s various speakers and presenters. During their trip around town they could ask questions and make a personal connection with these high-level executives. Attendees didn’t walk away with a product in hand, but they certainly left the conference associating Uber with a very positive experience. That is likely to influence their view of the company for years to come.
Planning stand-alone experiential marketing events for service based companies
You see brands that sell products planning huge experiential marketing events all the time. Red Bull puts on extreme sports events on a regular basis. Bud Light’s House of Whatever events are the stuff of legends. But there’s no reason a service based company can’t plan stand-alone activations that create positive impressions in consumers’ minds.
Allstate is a major brand that offers services rather than physical products. They planned a very fun series of stand-alone experiential marketing events on the campuses of four Florida universities. All were centered around their slogan “Get to a Better State.” They hired yoga instructors to give short courses during breaks between classes so students could get to a more “relaxed” state. They brought green screens to the participating campuses, which allowed students to “transport” themselves to a relaxing place. During midterm and finals weeks, they brought hot coffee to campus first thing in the morning so students could get to a more “awake” state.
The campaign yielded great results for Allstate. They received 45,000 impressions and reached 21,000 students. Best of all, the campaign created 3,000 leads for Allstate agents.
For the rest of us, this campaign really showcases how successful experiential marketing can be for service based companies.
Whether you’re a service based company or product based company, Factory 360 is very interested in being your experiential marketing agency. We have ample experience working with both types of brands, and we deliver big results for everyone who partners with us. Give us a call today to learn more about what we can do for your business.