Why Your PR Strategy Must be Experiential With or Without a Physical Product
Today’s customers and consumers have named “experience” as one of the most important determinants as to whether they will engage with a brand or business. Typically the idea of customer service comes to mind when it comes to “experience”, but it has expanded to include every part of the customer journey as the discover and begin to experience your business, product or service. This includes website design and messaging, content, and social media through the purchase journey to receipt of and first use of your product or service. And, as we all know, these customers won’t hesitate to share that experience through online reviews for others to see, and reviews mean money or a chance to engage to learn and improve the experience.
One of the ways that a company can create an experience that can be meaningful to customers is through Experiential PR.
Experiential PR strategies, whether or not a physical product is involved, can be highly effective in today's fast-paced, consumer-driven world. Such strategies focus on creating memorable experiences that engage and resonate with target audiences, leading to increased brand awareness, positive word-of-mouth, and ultimately, improved brand reputation.
These experiences are usually in the form of consumer-centric events that help a brand “touch” the actual customer and build a community around it. However, we also know that Experiential PR also includes the opportunities we give media to also experience a brand, either at a media-focused event or through sampling campaigns. Their positive experience can mean a story about the product or service or an inclusion in a round up feature, which can help catapult business and positive consumer perception.
Either way, customers and media want to experience your business before buying or writing about it and this is why your PR strategy must be experiential, regardless of whether you have a physical product.
An Example: Longest Kiss Challenge Introduces a New Trend
See how our friends at You Are Beautiful spread the word through experiential events at local malls and public installations.
The Power of an Experiential PR Campaign
Emotional Connection: Experiential PR allows you to create an emotional connection with your target audience by offering them immersive and interactive experiences that evoke emotions and leave a lasting impression, positive, we hope. This emotional connection is crucial in building brand loyalty, advocacy, and community even if you do not have a physical product to showcase. By tapping into the emotions and values of your target audience, and the media that can reach them, you can create a meaningful relationship between your brand and your consumers.
Brand Values: One of the great things about an Experiential-focused PR campaign is that it allows a brand or business to communicate, share and show its values to customers. We know that customers want to know that the brand they support is more than just a business, but that it stands for something greater and is committed to giving back to the community and world that supports it. This is a feel good for customers and allows businesses to invite there audience into their company. They want to feel “part of something” when they support your business.
Authentic Storytelling: Experiential PR provides an opportunity for authentic storytelling, allowing you to communicate your brand's values, mission, and unique selling proposition in a genuine and compelling way. You can create stories and narratives that resonate with your audience and align with their interests and beliefs, regardless of whether you are promoting a tangible product or not. Authentic storytelling helps to humanize your brand and build trust, which is vital in today's competitive marketplace.
Engagement and Participation: Experiential PR encourages active engagement and participation from your audience, making them active participants rather than passive spectators. This involvement fosters a sense of ownership and creates a memorable experience that can be shared with others, leading to positive word-of-mouth marketing. Even if you do not have a physical product, you can still create engaging experiences such as interactive workshops, virtual events, or digital activations that generate buzz and excitement among your target audience.
Community Builder: Some experiential PR programs strictly target an exclusive list of loyal customers and made them a vital part of their company from product development, trial and even direction for the company.
For example, a popular whiskey company created a club for select members knowing that they were a distinguished, knowledgeable audience that liked to feel important. Each month they sent members a bottle of an existing product, an exclusive small batch or new products in development and asked for their feedback. A lot of the members made an experiential event of their own by inviting friends over to share the bottle and then share everyone’s feedback. In turn, members would become involved in the company’s online and social communities and offered valuable quotes for media and promotions. This kind of program could become an experiential PR tour including local media and relevant writers to an exclusive launch event for new products.
Multi-channel Approach: Experiential PR is not limited to physical events or product launches. It can be executed across multiple channels, including social media, online platforms, influencer partnerships, and more with sampling offers or memberships, like the club above. This allows you to reach a wider audience and leverage various touchpoints to create a cohesive and integrated brand experience.
You can use other experiential elements in your PR campaigns, such as gamification, user-generated content, virtual reality, or augmented reality, to create interactive and immersive experiences for your audience, regardless of whether you have a physical product. These experiences alone can create an emotional connection to your brand.
Differentiation and Competitive Advantage: In today's saturated market, standing out from the competition is crucial. Creative experiential PR programs can help you differentiate your brand by offering unique and memorable experiences that set you apart with customers. Even without a physical product, you can create experiential PR campaigns that showcase your brand's personality, values, and promise, creating a distinct brand image in the minds of your target audience. A good example of this is a B2B company hosting a unique experience with their service at an industry event. This differentiation can lead to a competitive advantage, position your brand truly unique and as a leader in your industry, and drive sales.
Especially for small businesses like startups and small enterprises, experiential PR campaigns can be affordable and effective with or without a physical product. By creating innovative and memorable hands-on experiences, using authentic storytelling, encouraging engagement and adopting a multi-channel approach, your company can foster meaningful emotional connections and lasting relationships with customers, differentiate your brand/company and help generate buzz and media attention that can establish your brand in the market.