Marketing professionals are constantly battling to engage with customers who appear to show decreasing brand loyalty. This is against a backdrop of saturated social media and advertising targeted at specific audiences and even personalised for individuals. In an age of digital marketing, the impact of great customer service, delivered by well-informed brand representatives can be huge.

Businesses tend to focus most of their energies on marketing to end customers. However, a creative approach to combining digital and real-life marketing to internal sales channels and reseller sales teams can have a massive impact on the business’ sales.

Demand for experiences is up

Pop up roadshows offer a valuable means to educate customer-facing employees, providing an opportunity to interact with in-person product demonstrations, which would not be possible online. Integrating experiential, human internal marketing activities with digital marketing that supports real-life sales events can transform sales staff and resellers into brand super fans.

The number of UK brands looking to invest in experiential events in 2016 was up 40% on 2015. Millennials now make up a large proportion of today's sales forces and a large majority of Millennials (78%) would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable. In fact, research shows that 55% of Millennials say they are spending more on events and live experiences than ever before.

In this context, an extremely effective way of engaging Millennial sales people, is by lighting the touch paper with a real-life experience and backing that up with targeted digital marketing communications and a clear rewards and recognition platform.

Businesses might not be able to afford to release high performing, valuable sales staff for a full day’s conference, so it is a good idea to bring the experiential marketing to them. A mobile phone supplier might kit out a coach with an interactive display of its latest model and take that out on the road. That way, salespeople would only have to step out of the office or showroom for half an hour. In that time, they could handle the new phone, find out lots of information about it and try it out. If one of the selling points of the phone was a particularly good camera, for example, you might encourage sales people to take photographs and post them up on Instagram or tweet a specific hashtag. As appropriate, this activity may take place on internal closed social media channels or better yet external customer-facing channels.

Here are some top tips on how to boost engagement with sales channels through experiential events in a world of digital marketing:

Combine real-life marketing with digital - This can work particularly well with new product launches. Support a roadshow event that allows sales staff to handle and try out new products with digital marketing to staff before and after the event.

Integrate - Integrate digital marketing before and after the event, e-learning related to the new product, and the recognition platform that rewards employees for effective sales and customer service around new products. If all these elements are combined on a single centralised platform, this will create a positive feedback loop, increasing the impact of each activity.

Run pilot schemes to find out what works for you - Digital marketing generates hard data to determine what will work, what to deploy, and what results to expect. These sorts of metrics are harder to come by when it comes to measuring the success of real-life events. It is worth starting small and trying things out.

Focus on creativity - Creating brand advocates need not be expensive. Ideal Heating wanted to promote how easy it was to service its new boiler to installers and heating engineers nationwide. Along with brand engagement agency FMI, it ran a UK roadshow over nine weeks at 30 UK go-karting venues with a ‘race to win’ theme. It invited installers and heating engineers to compete in a timed challenge to service one of the boilers. 1,200 heating engineers and customers interacted with the new boilers and the event fundamentally increased sales of the new boilers. Events allow brands to bring otherwise quite dry subject matter to life.

Work with agencies that share your holistic view - A patchwork of separate solutions for loyalty schemes, sales performance platforms, e-learning, and digital marketing solutions will not deliver anything like the benefits of an integrated approach.

Brand advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a source of reliable information. Additionally, brand advocates are 50% more likely to create content that influences a purchase. However, many digital marketers are stuck at first base, collecting data about “likes”, retweets and responses to email marketing that is not providing a true picture of how effective the business is at creating brand advocates among sales staff, in the reseller channel and among customers. In fact, experiential marketing is highly effective at cutting through the digital noise and driving brand advocacy that has a real impact on the bottom line.


By Adam Whatling, global engagement and technology lead at Love2shop Business Services

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