In today’s world of mass media, digital marketing and commercial clutter, consumers are confronted with a daily deluge of information. Many marketing techniques (television, radio, SMS, and internet advertisement) have become little more than white noise, cluttering up consumer’s lives. The last thing you want is for your marketing campaign to add to that noise, to become something that people try to block out and avoid engaging with. What you want is to give you consumers an experience. For modern consumers a tangible experience is more exciting and memorable, hence the success of ‘experiential marketing’; also known as on ground marketing. Rather than viewing consumers as passive receivers of content, on ground marketers believe that consumers should be actively engaged in the production and co-creation of marketing initiatives, thereby developing a meaningful relationship with the brand. Consumer engagement occurs when a brand and a consumer connect, and what better way to connect than through experience?
According to Atwal and Williams (2009), authors of “Luxury Brand Marketing – The Experience is Everything!”, there are several ways in which an experiential, on ground marketing approach will set your brand apart from the traditional marketing techniques. First, on ground marketing campaigns present sensory, emotional, cognitive and rational experiences to the consumers, creating lasting bonds between brand and customer. Second, on ground marketing campaigns deftly create synergies among meaning, perception, consumption and brand loyalty.
Here to keep you ahead of the curve, ChilliPrinting brings you a definitive guide to on ground marketing. What is it? And why should you use it?
What Is On Ground Marketing?
To break away from the clutter, brands are involving customers in their on-ground activations and events. By creating experiences, brands create lasting attachments, generate word of mouth, and cultivate a lot of buzz around their products. An experience is a very human thing; it’s something we want to share with friends and family. Thus, in the most effective on ground marketing campaign, you’ll get the consumer to do the work for you. First, you ensure that they actively engage, asserting their own agency in seeking out your brand (this is more meaningful, as people prefer feeling that they are in control, rather than feeling they are being targeted or coerced). Secondly, you encourage them to do some publicity on your behalf; be it sharing on social media, or sharing through the old channels of word of mouth. On ground marketing is a very subtle way of boosting engagement, and can be achieved in a number of ways…
Companies can organize and develop events that advertise their products by creating brand experiences. These will enable consumers to create their own attachments, and add value to your products. Common types of events for companies are press conferences, promotional events, and product launches, but the more ‘out there’ ideas are often more successful. Installations in shopping malls, interactive games at business conferences, and partnered events that tie in multiple brands and products with live performances, are all techniques that have proved effective. The more unique the event, the better the campaign.
Many brands are creating one on one consumer experiences using custom branded buses, aviation vehicles, or motor coaches, which act as billboards to make their presence known. Successful mobile marketing campaigns are usually scheduled carefully around large events (sports fixtures, political rallies, festivals) to reach a specific demographic at the local level.
Street teams are a highly effective way of building brand awareness, especially at the local level. By distributing leaflets, flyers and brochures in public places, street teams can target very specific consumers, and increase engagement at the individual level. Holding a flyer engages haptic memory (your sense of touch), which is thought to be one of the most effective stimuli in creating lasting impressions. Moreover, consumers are more likely to trust and keep information they receive in print, so distributing printed media at the street level is a great way to boost your brand.
Some people use the term ‘Guerilla Marketing’ almost interchangeably with On Ground Marketing. This is a big misconception. Guerilla marketing is best viewed as a subcategory of on ground marketing (and a highly effective one at that). Guerilla marketing is a marketing strategy designed for businesses to promote their products or services in an unconventional way, with minimal little budget. They are typically high energy and imaginative campaigns, designed to have an ‘underground’ feel that cuts against public conceptions of corporations as huge oppressive structures in society. Guerrilla marketing, when done well, is perhaps the most elegantly effective model of on ground marketing, in that it truly inspires consumers to actively engage. If the key aim of on ground marketing is to make the consumer actively seek out your brand (or at least make them think they’re being active), and create word of mouth, then it finds its most efficient incarnation in guerrilla techniques.
So in short, experiential marketing is about offering consumers an experience, creating brand loyalty, and generating word of mouth. But what makes for a great on ground experience?
How To Create A Powerful On Ground Marketing Experience?
Be ‘Out There’
By all means go wild, but keep it on-brand. An experience should be memorable, but also relevant to the people attending. On ground marketing campaigns will always benefit from thinking outside the box. Why not partner with creators like artists and musicians to create multi-brand experiences? This will be especially effective if the artists already have an audience within the demographic or region you’re aiming to reach.
Make Your Message Implicit & Don’t Interrupt
The key to an effective on ground marketing campaign is in making your message implicit; make sure it’s not ‘in your face’. To make illustrate this point, let’s look at the example of Lean Cuisine, whose #WeighThis campaign is a perfect example of implicit marketing. Lean Cuisine created an exhibition of weighing scales in Grand Central Station, New York. They then invited women (their target audience) to “weigh themselves”, only they weren’t talking about weight… The scales were actually boards where women could write down how they really wanted to be ‘weighed up’. Rather than focusing on body image, the women chose to be measured according to life goals, past achievements or personality traits; things like “going to college-aged 55”, “caring for 200 homeless children each day”, or “being the sole provider to four sons”. What’s particularly groundbreaking about this experience is that none of the participants ever interacted with a Lean Cuisine product. They were never interrupted, asked to sample a product or answer a survey. The experience itself was enough to make people stop, engage, and then voluntarily interact. The campaign had a clear message: “Our products facilitate a healthy lifestyle, but don’t forget; you’re more than just a number on a scale.” It’s a good message, but instead of explicitly advertising that, Lean Cuisine created an interactive experience around the message, making it implicit.
Tie In With Digital
Print and digital should never be viewed as separate. The most effective on ground marketing will work in correlation with your digital campaigns by guiding consumers towards your online content, and boosting engagement. When you create your on ground experience, make sure you create a branded hashtag, so that participants can share the experience on social media. Then, make sure you’ve got an integrated print element that encourages people to go online. Create beautiful flyers and stickers, containing hashtags, social media account names and QR codes that link to your digital content. Lean Cuisine’s #WeighThis campaign was made all the more effective by its digital presence. The company’s Twitter handle and a branded hashtag were featured on custom posters around the display, which had enormously positive effects; the #WeighThis campaign led to over 204 million total impressions.
Partner With Another Brand
Joining forces with another brand is a surefire way to create an even better experience. Make sure you choose a partner with an audience that would suit your brand, that would otherwise be difficult to reach. Crucial to the success of the symbiosis is finding a partner who will benefit from your audience, too. In order for it to work, you want the experience to be a win-win-win: benefitting you, your co-partner, and the consumer. Once you’ve found the perfect partner, aim to build an experience that necessitates an exchange of each brand’s product or service. That way, the consumer is more likely to interact with both of you, and to create their own connections between you, which will improve their understanding of both brands and products. Partnering is also a great way to make your campaign bigger and better. By teaming up, you can become far more ambitious by splitting the cost of a more expansive campaign.
On Ground Marketing is Perfect for B2B
A huge misconception about on ground marketing is that it’s only effective for B2C campaigns. This couldn’t be more wrong. On ground marketing works extremely well in the context of B2B brands. Think about who you’re targeting, and create an engagement that would not only attract that demographic, but also present a valuable opportunity for them to experience your product first-hand. If your business centers around an issue, or a market trend (let’s say you’re a charity dealing with something that’s taboo, or difficult to talk about), you can use the tailor-made experience to create a conversation. B2B events can also be a great way of marketing to new clients. Build an experience for people or companies who aren’t sure exactly how they would use your product or service. Keep it fun, but also educational. Make sure the experience makes clear the benefits they stand to gain in an immersive and inventive way. In this sense, on ground marketing is a great way to bring your data to life. Statistics are crucial to creating trust, and helping decision making, but creating a live installment that illustrates them will help people truly understand your statistics in new ways.
On ground marketing is a great way to bring your brand to life. By creating interactive events, centered around consumer experience, you immerse your target audience in a real-world environment, which helps them to understand, appreciate and relate to your product or service in more meaningful ways. By keeping your message clear and subtle, you counteract the white noise of conventional marketing techniques, as people don’t feel they are being bombarded with impersonal advertisements. Rather they feel they are being offered something; an experience. Since the branding remains implicit, this allows the consumer to take the initiative, actively engage of their own accord, and developing more lasting, personal bonds with your brand.