It seems like every new thing businesses think up to gain a competitive edge soon gets copied by its competitors, costing the firm its competitive advantage. Developing an evolving marketing strategy to constantly create competitive advantage is the challenge facing businesses throughout the developed nations of the world.
From the perspective of an academic, that’s a good thing because businesses clamor for our research to move them ahead of their competition. From the firm’s perspective, it means they have to constantly be on the lookout for the next new thing.
What is experiential marketing
Experiential marketing involves engaging consumers at multiple levels; getting them to sense, feel, think, act, and relate. In essence, experiential marketing involves creating a memorable customer experience and is based on the notion that service experiences are scripted and staged to create such experiences.
Originally proposed by Pine and Gilmore in a book and an article for the Wall Street Journal in 1999, experiential marketing is a response to the commoditization of services that denied firms competitive advantage. By providing memorable experiences, these firms regained advantage and created customer satisfaction.
Subsequent marketers have misinterpreted the original marketing strategy embodied by experiential marketing — thinking it only applied to events marketing or tourism, overlooking ways that experiential marketing could be integrated into the marketing strategy of firms in diverse fields.
4 Elements of Experiential Marketing
These elements go beyond just providing superior customer experience to generate satisfaction. They create values for customers that go beyond functional elements that drove them to desire the service. Here are some examples of way a firm might integrate elements of experiential marketing into their marketing strategy:
Entertainment – examples include having short live performances at restaurants, such as the dance interludes performed by the waitstaff at Longhorn Steakhouse. Of having a clown at the dentist office. Even museums are increasingly using live demonstrations to keep patrons entertained as they tour the more static exhibits. These performances turn a service into a memorable experience.
Education – can include everything from historical background on the menu to hands on exhibits tracing the architecture of a shopping center to pre- and post-service educational talks. Some medical practices use lectures as a way of luring in new patients. These lectures might include models or even allow attendees to observe an operation live.
Aesthetics – involves a passive involvement in the service and uses stylized servicescapes to allow patrons to experience another realm. For instance, the servicescape at Outback Steakhouse seeks to simulate the Australian Outback using exotic names for menu items, dressing their waitstaff as if on safari, and using stylized decorations meant to recreate Australia.
Escapist – is a more active involvement in the service. For instance, encouraging sing alongs by patrons, getting diners to dance, having attendees dress up (like the old Rocky Horror Picture Show, where movie goers wore replicas of the costumes worn by the actors).
How Do I use This?
Businesses are focused on providing superior customer services, and while this is great, it may not be enough. Providing a memorable experience to customers may give you a leg up on your competition. To create this experience, look at the 4 elements used for creating experiential services. How many of these can you build into your marketing strategy? Can you work with employees to create entertainment for customers? What about updating your servicescape with the idea of creating an alternative reality to draw customers into the experience?