By Bahaa Hamadi
Shooting messages at your target groups like arrows is a very hit-and-miss affair. In today’s highly cluttered and segmented market, a targeted effort alone is not enough.
Instead of firing one-way messages, brands should engage stakeholders in real-life activities, allowing them to experience first-hand an inspiring journey that brings to life the brand narrative and values.
Breathing life into a brand’s positioning is imperative in a market environment where impact takes precedence over outreach.
The buying experience
Let’s take a look at the retail sector, where the buying experience is as important as product and price. Dubai for example is home to more than 60 shopping malls, with many more under development.
Year after year, the retail sector’s growth spawns economic opportunity and prosperity for Dubai, with the retail experience reaching its peak during shopping festivals that draw millions of consumers from all over the world.
Imagine the potential of real experiential engagement with shoppers on the ground while shopping, as opposed to targeting them through traditional communications methods. You could say it is like the practical, business world versus the academic world.
As marketers, the goal may not necessarily involve direct engagement with shoppers or customers, but ensuring experiential engagement with the media, key opinion leaders and other key constituents who represent the messenger between a brand and its audiences.
Providing the messenger with an actual taste of the brand will strengthen their influence and ability to relay a holistic, reality-based brand narrative to target groups, achieving greater impact from message delivery.
More than just reviews
Experiential engagement with media vehicles is more than just product reviews. It can extend to areas beyond the shopping experience like familiarising them with behind-the-scenes operations and any other brand aspects that are not often communicated publicly.
A brand with the courage, confidence and readiness to implement communications efforts that reveal unconventional yet non-confidential areas of its business, will enjoy wider credibility in a market where consumer trust in brand claims is going downhill.
The next time you have a communications campaign to implement or an ad-hoc announcement to make, think beyond writing and disseminating a story, posting a photo or video, organising a press conference or other conservative publicity efforts.
Do something different
Try creating an open dialogue with your messenger in a tangible manner. Invite them to your store, office, factory, construction site or project, let them tour the premises and have a candid discussion with the faces behind your brand, including blue-collar workers.
Allow them to examine your project as it is being built or try your product as it is being produced, and perhaps let them speak to some of your happy customers. All along, feed them reasons why your brand offering is an embodiment of excellence in your brand category.
Captivating your audience experientially will build meaningful connections and trigger positive stories, word of mouth and more trust in your brand.
The beauty of experiential marketing lies in the emotional link it creates between audiences and brands. This emotional bridge is what creates long-lasting connections.
Think about your own network of people or brands that you ‘like’; what brings you together is mainly an emotional bond. The power of engagement at an emotional level remains one of the most potent persuasion tools in marketing today.