In this day and age, with all the tech advances at brands’ fingertips, there’s even less of an excuse brands can make with dissatisfied customers, argues Josh Emblin, IE’s strategy planner.
Successful consumer engagement begins with innovation. The most talked about stories of 2014 relied on brands creating unique, inspiring and often challenging experiences. They surprised, delighted, amazed and intrigued their target audience in ways that hadn’t been done before. By pushing new boundaries with their use of technology, they have created unique personalised experiences as a result. In today’s constantly connected world, brands have the potential to create lasting memories with consumers by delivering personalized experiences, and capturing valuable CRM data at the same time.
As the current rate of technological innovation increases, so too do the opportunities for marketers to create dramatic and enthralling experiences for their customers. These experiences need to not only be innovative, but they need to push boundaries in the types of emotional responses they can evoke from consumers. The aim being to create a lasting bond between the person and the brand that will set them apart from the competition. This can be as simple as a time-based promotion online, to an immersive brand challenge in a physical, public space.
Digital media, devices and connectivity were designed with convenience in mind, to give us more free time with which to think, act and do. However we are entering the age of sensory overload, where instead we are constantly bombarded and harassed with push notifications, emails and other advertising and marketing messaging. As a result we are becoming numb to the messaging, and our attention is only captured when it is received from a trusted source such as a friend or acquaintance, or a brand that we have developed a special affinity with. So, how do brands create that special affinity with you in the first place?
Some of the greatest examples of developing brand affinity come from those actions that elicit an emotional response from consumers, such as Federal Express’s social storytelling about how they helped to transport endangered turtle eggs to safety after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This finely tuned combination of corporate responsibility and public relations messaging in a social environment generated a massive responsive from the community. Which, in turn, created an emotional connection with FedEx as a brand because they’re now seen as ‘the good guys’ who are always there to help in a time of crisis.
The example above relies on leveraging a natural disaster, so what other options do brands have to create lasting brand affinity that will compel consumers to tell their network about? Studies tell us that all living creatures will seek out pleasure and avoid pain, so why not deliver this pleasure through a brand experience to make consumers happy? This is where brands have the most potential to be innovative and create something truly unique that involves creating a sense of excitement and urgency to really get the adrenalin flowing.
The key to success with these campaigns is to give something to get something. The brand delivers an exciting experience for the customer, often in a public arena that either includes a product giveaway, or provides the consumer with the chance to win something of real value. In exchange, the consumer generates owned content for the brand, earned media that they spread on their own social channels and they often part with their personal information so the brand can communicate offers to them after the event has taken place.
A great example of this was developed by The North Face in Korea where customers’ were faced with the challenge of climbing a wall as the ‘trap floor’ disappeared beneath them. The reward for completing the task was the chance to jump and win a free jacket. By creating this memorable experience for consumers, they have produced a lasting memory that will be talked about for years to come.
Brand affinity development combined with a degree of data capture is not an activity to be underestimated, or underinvested as the pay off can and often does go global. Marketers must ensure they are keeping their key demographic in mind while maintaining strong brand integrity so the experience is always relates back to their brand.