Don't Trade Experience For Community
Experiential marketing is a buzzword in the industry, and rightfully so, as brands search for ways to rise to the top in crowded and clouded markets where most of our attention has been hijacked by our phones. How do you leave a lasting impression on someone after they've experienced your brand? Through meaningful experience. Architecture firms are weaving it into their spaces and non-profits like Charity : Water use it to bring you to the countries they're helping through virtual reality. It makes a difference, but only until the next meaningful experience comes along. Weave in a strong and engaged community and those experiences will go even further.
Over the past 5 years brands have tapped into the benefits that community brings. Some have done it more eloquently and organically than others but in this boom or bust era many have felt the push from investors to scale community at an unsustainable clip. A community is not built solely by its interaction with the brand but also by its interaction within the community itself. In our highly digital age we want to feel connected and invested in a way that feels hyper-personal. This is one reason why Apple’s events are working so well. They’re partnering with brands to bring people together around an interest such as music, spoken word, or even entrepreneurship to build deeper engagement. They’re tapping into a community first and then driving experience!
I'm not saying experiential marketing doesn't work. In fact, it’s amazing at driving brand affinity as a 2016 survey found 74% of consumers say engaging with branded event marketing experiences makes them more likely to buy the products being promoted. Without a sense of community though, that 74% will gladly purchase a product from a different brand without thinking twice. Build experience in to the community that you have built and invested in. Show them that you truly care about them outside of these one-off events that are plastered with your logo and cheap tchotchkes.