Experiential Branding: 3 Tips to Get Customers to Experience Your Brand by @iamronii

by Ronii Bartles | Featured Contributor

You’ve probably heard about experiential marketing. It’s elaborate events designed to create an experience centered on a product or brand. It’s designed to make you feel that thing. Rockstar energy drinks is really good at this. You experience being a rockstar and the message is that when you drink Rockstar you will feel like a rockstar. So then you want to drink Rockstar because you want to get that experience again and again.

According to Wikipedia Experiential Marketing is similarly related to Relationship Marketing.

“Relationship (experiential) marketing was first defined as a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns which emphasizes customer retention and satisfaction, rather than a dominant focus on sales transactions.

As a practice, relationship marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long term value of customer relationships and extends communication beyond intrusive advertising and sales promotional messages.”

While usually it’s call ‘marketing’ because it is associated with a specific CTA (call to action) and campaign, it’s directly related to your brand story. You want your customers to experience your brand and see and feel how you see and feel it. You want them to experience your passion. That’s all fine and good for those big brands like Coke and Starbucks with deep budgets. But how does the creative entrepreneur and small business owner translate that to their small (or no) budget?

Here are 3 tips for getting your customer to experience your brand in a big way.

  • Invite them behind the scenes: Believe it or not consumers want to know how your business works. How you do things, your struggles, your successes, you process… your everything. Invite them in. You could have an open house and showcase your work and how you do it, start an Instagram campaign or do a series of videos about your process, business practices and culture. Believe it or not they will show up to the party. So throw one. On any platform.
  • Good photography: This seems so basic but photography is soooooo important. And not just any photography, GOOD photography. Not a cell phone photo (regardless of how many megapixels it has). The items on Pinterest that gain the most viral-bility are the ones with good photos. It’s not only about the subject matter, it’s about lighting and positive and negative space. I might be a service-based business but I ‘invest’ in photography. We have the most amazing headshots because of our totally AWESOME photographer. Good photos will showcase how you feel about your brand and consumers will see that too.
  • Surprise them: Have you ever surprised your customers with something that they totally didn’t expect? Try it. You will be amazed at the WOM marketing you get from it. Make your surprise brand centric too. We have Champagne Thursdays and sometimes clients get a bottle of champagne from us (usually cheap champagne cause that’s how we roll) with a note that says, “Champagne? What’s the occasion? Because it’s Thursday. Thanks for being awesome!” It’s directly related to our brand and our clients get to experience how we feel about our Champagne Thursdays brainstorming sessions (and hopefully participate).

Brainstorm some ideas. What kinds of things do you do in your business that you could also do for your clients so they can experience your brand? Having them experience your brand will make them loyalists. And we all know how important it is to have loyalists. They will buy more and send you more referrals than you know what to do with. What’s one thing you will do this month to get your customers to experience your brand? Bonus points if it’s an inexpensive idea like hand-made cards or $1 post it notes.


Ronii Bartles – Marketing & Branding Expert from Bartles & Associates – Charleston, SC

Ronii Bartles HeadshotRonii is Bartles & Associates’ self-proclaimed Chief Rockstar. She has a whole list of amazing (but slightly boring) credentials like a Bachelor’s Degree from Shepherd University, a MBA from The Citadel, The Lowcountry Business Network Advisory Board Member and is President of the Charleston American Marketing Association, where she was also a 2012 Marketer of the Year Finalist. She loves to go around telling people that she actually is one of the Most Influential Women in Business in Charleston and a 40 Under 40 winner because the Business Journal told her so. Professionally, Ronii grew up in the marketing research industry and has been Director of Operations at ARG and W5. She took all that experience and started Bartles & Associates and roniibartles.com where Ronii and her team work with creative entrepreneurs and small businesses on developing branding and marketing strategies around what they do best, which they lovingly call Operations Marketing. B&A helps businesses uncork their potential by uncovering their WHY and then crafting that message into concise, memorable brand stories and marketing messages. Ronii is an active volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters for over twelve years, and won Big Sister of the Year in 2008. Originally from West Virginia (you can take the girl out of WV but you can’t take the WV out of the girl), she loves beer, college football (Let’s GOOO Mountaineers!), pizza, jeans and a t-shirt, and designer high heels. You can connect with Ronii on Twitter or LinkedIn or email her.

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