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May 4, 2009

Shaz Smilansky:Triggering word of mouth

In the second of three exclusive online extracts from her recently published book, Experiential Marketing, the Blazinstar Experiential marketing director explains how live brand experiences can be amplified by strategically building in a mechanism for participants to spread the word.

It is recommended that you provide participants of live brand experiences with a trigger mechanism that makes it easy for them to pass on their experience, and then support that system with an incentive for doing so; this forms the Exponential element for the campaign.

When the incentive is a gift, the recipients of the participant’s message should also have the opportunity to receive a gift, as should those who heard about the live brand experience from an amplification channel.

Even though the individuals in these groups did not all participate in the experience themselves, they have the opportunity to receive something tangible, symbolising the experience that they heard about from a peer or amplification channel. Therefore, the external aid does not only serve as a tangible reinforcement of the participant’s memory, it also provides the recipient of the message with the opportunity to engage further with the brand and form their own personal connection with it.

By creating a further interaction between the brand and both the participants and the recipients, the relationship continues beyond the initial campaign.

Ongoing positive interaction is key to establishing long-term customer loyalty, this being the ultimate aim of experiential marketing. By collecting the contact data of the participants of your experience and the recipients of the experience message, and then contacting them with invitations to future experiences (perhaps invitation only), you can convert recipients of a second hand message about a live brand experience into participants of a live brand experience.

By continuing the ongoing experiential marketing communication with a live brand experience at its core, you can build golden bonds with your target audience and strengthen the feeling that you want to add value to their lives. As a result, the consumers will remember that the relationships that they have with you are long-term and two-way, and that the relationship does not end when the first experience or purchase does.

The other phenomenon that can occur as a result of inviting consumers (participants and recipients) to future live brand experiences, is that bonds will form between the individuals in the groups of those invited, and the memory of the group realises itself in individual memories*.

This long-term view should be considered when formulating your long-term experiential strategy, which when coupled with a customer-experience orientation within your organisation, will build the foundations for brand advocacy and a long standing customer relationships.

*Halbwachs M, Coser LA, On Collective Memory p.40 (1992) (University of Chicago Press)

Shaz Smilansky is marketing director at experiential agency Blazin Star.

Experiential Marketing is published by
Kogan Page, costs £22.50 and is available from Amazon and all good book sellers.

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