As content marketers working in the financial services industry, we need to stay on top of the many marketing changes happening in our industry, and in others. One of the big changes taking place outside financial services is the rise of experiential marketing. Let’s explore experiential marketing: what it is, what one company has done very well as well as taking a look at what a financial services firm could do.
What is experiential marketing?
Sometimes it’s called engagement marketing or participation marketing, and there’s a good reason for that. Experiential marketing is a very hands-on approach to marketing. It takes place right in front of the consumer – on a street corner, at an event or anywhere consumers might be. But it’s not the same as giving away samples in front of a train station. Experiential marketing is interactive and provides a real experience between the consumer and the brand.
To get a better idea of what this means, let’s look at an example from the retail industry.
The Molson Canadian global beer fridge
There’s a good chance you’ve seen these commercials. A crowd of Canadians gather in a public space, drawn in by the sight of a Molson Canadian beer fridge. They’re looking confused and wondering what this beer fridge is doing in this particular space. After all, it’s a spot they’ve likely walked by many times before – and there’s never been a beer fridge there before.
As members of the crowd chat with each other, they slowly realize that the fridge is waiting for people to say “I am Canadian” in different languages. Working as a group, the crowd finds many people who speak different languages, and each steps forward to say “I am Canadian” in their own way. After the 10th language is spoken, the beer fridge open, and it’s free beer for everyone! (Adults only, of course.)
Not surprisingly, the crowd cheers and looks genuinely excited. Although we weren’t there personally, we’d be willing to bet that nobody in that crowd will ever forget that experience. And that, right there, is the definition of experiential marketing.
And for the rest of us witnessing the magic through commercials only? We didn’t have the same hands-on experience, but this is still a memorable campaign. We didn’t get free beer, but we certainly get the message about living in a wonderfully multi-cultural society.
The lesson for financial services
As a financial services marketer, the information you provide to customers is important. But for it to have a real impact, it also has to be memorable. Set aside the brochures and product information sheets for a moment and think about how you can create a real experience for your customers – an experience they’re not likely to forget any time soon.
One idea could be to go to an event where you know investors will be and set up a gaming station. Invite investors to play a game where they can choose different financial paths and see how their choices affect their future. For example, a player who hasn’t started saving for retirement can choose an amount to start saving now or to put off saving for 10 years so they can focus on eliminating their debt. They could choose to spend their tax refund on a vacation or on an extra mortgage payment. They could choose, for example, to prioritize retirement savings over saving for a child’s education.
With each path chosen, the player should be able to see the impact of their choices and what might happen if they made a different choice. The reward for playing could be something that ties into the game, like a complimentary session with a financial planner.
Keep in mind that many people like to keep their financial lives private. You may want to skip the crowd aspect of the Molson Canadian beer fridge campaign and create an experience that engages customers one-on-one.