By Christina Eschbacher, Marketing Manager, The Village at Allen
Also called engagement marketing, experiential marketing gives customers an experience that creates an emotional connection with brands and businesses. Earning new store visitors, retaining existing customers, and referral-based growth are only a few of the positive results you can expect when done effectively. Your bottom line will thank you perpetually.
Learn your target audience. Invest some time learning about the local audience and their lifestyles. Experiential marketing dictates that lifestyle details such as hobbies, interests, values and spending habits are considered before quantitative measurements such as age and income. It’s important to create an enjoyable experience that leaves the community wanting to come back for more.
Content is King. Now that you know your customers’ likes and dislikes, you can plan a single event or a series program that will add value to the shopping experience. Event series bring consistency and build momentum during peak and off-peak shopping periods. As the first event delights your customers’ senses, they will share experiences with friends, colleagues, and family. The beginning of a series is also a great time to survey participants to learn even more about ways to better serve them. Businesses who evolve based on customer feedback rank highly in customer service scores and online reviews. Creative and in-tune programs will draw the most local interest.
For example, the Village at Allen in Allen, Texas hosted the Allen Food + Wine Festival last April which provided special wine tasting and entertainment events tailored to the interests of the community. Several local Texas wineries, community partners, and Village at Allen retailers rallied to host an estimated 1,000 attendees. The festival itself served as a valuable opportunity for us to tighten a bond with the community while entertaining the community members with fun shopping, wining, and dining experiences.
Keep it Simple. Your marketing event doesn’t have to be elaborate or cost you an arm and a leg to be impactful. Setting aside even a small portion of your budget for engagement marketing can improve brand relevancy locally. For instance, offering an arts and craft table amidst an event full of sports programs for kids created the right mix for the community event, SportsFest in Allen Texas. We didn’t have to spend a ton but we’ll be still remembered by the community and invited back for the unique content that The Village Kids Club brought to the table. Joining a community event lessens event overhead expenses absorbed while hosting a private event. Don’t forget to meet and greet more local businesses for your network too!
Stop. Collaborate and listen. Look in your backyard and to your neighbors for opportunities to partner. Build partnerships through cross-promotion and goal combining. It is well known that businesses of the same genre in the same market compete for customers. What is not so well known is the fact that business people understand the value of partnership. There are huge efficiencies created by tag-teaming your aligned goals. PLAYlive Nation, gaming lounge, at The Village at Allen hosted our Village Kids Club for a couple of hours of gaming while the local Thai restaurant brought curated samples of jelly drinks for kids and Thai tea for parents to enjoy. We also cross-promoted another local entertainment venue, Topgolf, by sharing special offers with event attendees. The neighboring restaurant, Kelly’s at The Village, invited guests to drop in after the event for a free sweet treat. Customers were more than happy to spend extra time on the property visiting nearby retailers that were promoted during the time they were actively engaged and enjoying a preview of our new gaming lounge birthday packages and membership programs. Leverage the audience of each participating business through digital marketing to amplify your message. Attract people to your events and the retail traffic will follow.
Social awareness is important to consumers today more than ever. As business professionals, we have an obligation to make a positive impact on society and we can add to this by making it attainable to customers. Local charities have the hearts of local customers. Take the opportunity to invite a nearby cause to reap the benefits of the engaged audience and show your customers that you care about the same things they do. An optional school supply donation or canned food drive contribution will add more in value to engagement efforts than the few extra minutes it takes to incorporate them into your marketing events. We partner with Allen Community Outreach in their mission to provide free comprehensive human services to help families avoid hunger and homelessness and gain financial security. ACO offers Income Support including food, clothing, utility and housing assistance, medical visits and prescriptions assistance; and Education and Employment Services including GED classes, college assistance, financial coaching, and career counseling. Retailers enjoy offering being aligned with local efforts. You may even experience increased pride in your own employee base by participating in local charity missions.
For more information on the Village at Allen, click here.