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Using Experiential Marketing to Create Brand Fanatics

By September 30, 2019 January 3rd, 2020 No Comments

Have you ever wondered how Apple, year after year, gets loyal customers lined up for days for releases of new phones? Or maybe you understand the appeal of Apple. Perhaps you’re wondering, how did hard seltzer brand White Claw, become an overnight success and a Millennial favorite and household name? Brands like these can thank their loyal customers — brand fanatics — for their success.

Companies that cultivate brand fanatics inspire impressive devotion from large fanbases. A devoted fanbase is essential: according to Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75%. Attracting new customers simply costs more than keeping an existing customer. Brand fanatics are especially common among Millennials — compared to 54% in the general population, 62% of Millennials tend to stick with one brand, time after time. 

If you’re looking to inspire that kind of emotional connection in your customers, experiential marketing offers an ideal platform to create and nurture brand fanatics. Keep reading to find out how experiential marketing fosters brand loyalty and fanaticism.

Event tactics that create fanatics

  1. Identify a niche

The first rule for creating brand fanatics is “differentiate.” Successful brands are sometimes called “cult brands” for a reason: You want to create a community that has distance from the establishment or the norm. The message you want to communicate is that your brand isn’t like all the others. Trying to make your brand all things to all people is a recipe for failure. Instead, be everything to a niche. As Pro Motion President, Steve Randazzo has said, “You can be specific about your offering or your campaign and provide a more concentrated voice to a more distilled audience.”

Why does targeting a niche with your events work? As stated by cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” Consumers are driven by two seemingly opposed desires: To be unique and stand out from the crowd, and to receive the social support of like-minded individuals. That’s why step 2 is…

 2. Create a community

People fulfill these two opposing needs by belonging to a group that they identify as unique. According to social identity theory, people have an inherent tendency to categorize themselves into groups. People often partially base their identity on group affiliations. A sense of belonging to a group creates loyalty and leads to word-of-mouth advertising. To create a fanatic fan base, your brand must create experiences that lead to a feeling of belonging. A brand that resonates with a passionate community of fans is a brand that reaches cult status. 

Experiential event marketing is perfectly suited to create a passionate community of fanatics. Events offer opportunities for communal moments that fanatics share with one another, leading to a greater sense of belonging. Experiential marketing allows you to promote a message or a lifestyle, rather than just a product or service. You can also make your niche of event attendees feel unique by offering branded swag. Providing something exclusive gives your brand fanatics an elevated status, and it makes “outsiders” want to get in on the exclusivity. 

 3. Engage in conversation

Listen to your customers. The best brands focus on serving the wants and needs of the customers they already have. And the best way to build loyalty is to listen to any complaints your customers have and create solutions. Listen to your fans and value their opinions. Do what you can to reward them for engaging with your brand. When consumers know their voices are being heard, and brands incorporate feedback into their products, they feel a sense of ownership. 

One way to use events to communicate with your customers is to let consumers help create the event! You can directly ask your loyal customers what kind of events they would be interested in by posting on social media and asking for their opinions. Or, you can research where and how your most loyal fans like to spend their time, and bring your product or service to them. When collecting information from your biggest fans, be sure to do more than having them fill out a survey. Talk to them! Millenials in particular are more interested in having a conversation than filling out a questionnaire. 

 4. Provide a “wow” experience

To become a brand with a huge, fanatical following, you need to be beyond “good” — in fact, you need to be extraordinary. Wow your customers with exceptional customer service. That “wow” experience will foster loyalty in your customers. Over-deliver, and customers will return because they know you will go above and beyond for them. Data backs up the importance of wowing your consumers: U.S. businesses lose 41 billion dollars every year due to bad customer service. 

Events are a great venue to showcase your stellar customer service. Hire brand reps and ambassadors based on skill AND based on personality. It takes a special type of person to deliver consistently amazing customer service, even on a bad day or to a not so nice customer. Train your brand reps to be the best possible face for your brand. Take notes on the last time you experienced awesome customer service, and incorporate what made you feel so special into your own practices. 

Identify a niche, create a community, have open conversations with that community, and provide top notch customer service. That simple formula is enough to create loyal brand fanatics! Here are some examples of brands that used experiential marketing and events and demonstrate these practices. 

  • Harley Davidson

Harley is an early example of the effectiveness of fostering a niche community. CEO Vaughn Beals launched the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) in 1983 as a grassroots way to connect Harley’s brand and lifestyle with its most faithful customers. H.O.G. groups provided a venue for enthusiasts to meet, swap stories, and ride together. Harley went further than fostering owner groups. The brand also sponsors rallies around the country. This solidifies the feeling of community but also works as an effective sales tool: Harley brings motorcycles to the rallies for people to try. 

  • Chobani

Chobani used experiential marketing to reach the top of the Greek Yogurt market. Chobani employs a team of brand ambassadors who travel, hand out samples, staff Chobani food trucks, and attend high profile events. Unique events attended by Chobani include the Sundance Film Festival in 2015, and the White House Easter Egg Roll in 2016. Dedication to traveling and meeting their customers where they were helped Chobani dominate the Greek Yogurt market. 

  • Chaco’s

Chaco is an outdoor footwear brand that promotes an adventurous lifestyle. Chaco engages with their customers on social media: their Instagram is full of user-generated photos of fans hiking, camping, and having other adventures, all while wearing Chaco’s. The brand also travels to meet up with their faithful fans. Chaco attends music festivals and shops around the country as part of the “Z the World” tour, allowing the brand to interact with consumers in person and raise awareness of their product. 

Want to use events or experiential marketing  to create a loyal fanbase of your own? Pro Motion is here to help you translate loyal customers into brand fanatics. Call us at 636.449.3162

Learn More About Steve Randazzo’s book, Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World. Click here to download 2 free chapters!