For most B2B companies, a sacrosanct bundle of PR and marketing tools consists of website, newsletters, webinars, owned research reports, email databases, a bit of thought leadership white papers, videos to an extent and early experimentation with social media! There was also a time when PR (earned traditional media) was quite effective in a way that if a credible publication wrote a feature on your brand, it was assumed that your prospect will read it. But with advent of social media and 24 hours news cycle, stories get archived quickly, which means you either have to be a really sought after brand and searched by the prospect or fear being drowned in the deluge of content. It doesn’t mean that the said feature on your brand has no value, but certainly the impact has diminished.
But why should a B2B marketer limit it to just sharing information with prospects when he/she can create experiences? By creating experiences, a B2B brand can showcase offerings, the purpose and also evoke emotions that are memorable for the consumers. Experiential engagement and in-depth interactions in real world situations can lead to better brand love and enhance disposition. The sale conversion ratio can be positively impacted!
A classic example is of GE creating “Movie sets” of healthcare settings and getting doctors to explain the attendees how “Healthyimagination” plays a role in these settings. This was GE’s initiative that promotes healthcare solutions. “Design Dekko” by Godrej group is yet another emerging platform that aims at building a community of architect’s and interior designers. The on ground pop ups have multiple brands from within Godrej and outside of it actually coming together to experientially engage with the community.
Few benefits that B2B businesses can accrue from experiential marketing and influencer engagement and community building strategies:
- Conversations and immersion with the brand: Prospects are more likely to discuss and share experiences with teams, families and write about them hence expanding the reach on social media. L’Affaire (Godrej groups’ experiential marketing platform for the lifestyle space) with an experiential engagement with over 700 influencers generated over 35 Million impressions, 40 videos and over 100 testimonials for Godrej.
- Well informed potential customers: Learning through a touch and feel experience of products is any day better than reading about it in a brochure. For example, the USP of the “EVE” Wi-Fi network camera (Two way communication capability) from Godrej security solutions was demonstrated at L’Affaire through live interaction amongst the prospects and a video screen having the camera embedded in it, talking to them. Significant amount of leads got generated just due to this experiential engagement.
- Opportunity to be appropriately flamboyant: B2B marketing does not have to be always “Basically-2-Boring”, as assumed by many! While B2C seems more flamboyant, B2B can spring up surprises. It’s all about fresh thinking. Caterpillar’s “Profoundly Disconnected” initiative in the US was launched with Mike Rowe, a former host of “Dirty Jobs” who was also an advocate for skilled labour. Caterpillar was able to increase the brand visibility and also recruit for their work force. This partnership worked well as the influencer’s (Rowe) passion for skilled labour aligned itself to Caterpillars position as a creator of skilled labour jobs. Rowe’s followers found the messaging relevant and Caterpillar benefitted from this partnership.
- Build a community of prospects / influencers: Experiential owned media events / properties are the best platforms to mobilise key influencers who are then able to churn out authentic content around your offerings as they have experienced your brand and understood its purpose better. Vikhroli Cucina, Godrej groups platform for the food community has been running for 4 years now and experientially engages with thousands of food influencer’s (chefs, bloggers, chroniclers, hoteliers) every year bringing them closer to over six of Godrej businesses in the food space.
- Enhances organisational thought leadership: A key differentiator for a B2B brand is thought leadership in the space it operates. Experiential events, influencer testimonials and endorsements by KOL’s (Key opinion leaders) can enhance the respect a B2B business commands in the industry. Godrej group has launched the “Future of Series” that brings together stakeholders relevant to a key theme or issue that the brand is trying to address and facilitates conversations and crosspollination of ideas. “Owning” spaces is the strategy. For e.g. #HarGharSurakshit (Godrej LockSS) was launched to own the space of home safety and #FarmerNomics was launched to demonstrate Godrej Agrovet thought leadership in the space of doubling farmer incomes and many more.
Multiple opportunities exists for B2B businesses to embark on influencer engagement and experiential marketing strategies. Social media handles, newsletters, websites and other marketing tools will do their job of starting and sustaining conversations. However, engagements that wow the prospects with memorable experiences will emerge as strong drivers of growth in times to come. Digitisation alone cannot transform businesses, experiences and people can!