Experiential Marketing: Create Meaningful Brand Moments
Your consumers have a lot of unrealistic expectations: on-demand services, one-click purchasing, and “magic” — thanks to Uber, Amazon, and Walt Disney, respectively. And they aren’t always feeling their best when they’re in your organization’s facilities and experiencing its brand on the deepest level.
Considering consumers’ expectations and emotions they feel, they need a lot of nurturing — more than you can provide using traditional marketing. The good news is that you can create meaningful brand moments and a positive experience using experiential marketing.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing promotes a company’s products and services through events and partnerships. It provides a brand experience in a way that directly and immediately benefits consumers.
Experiential marketing goes beyond the simple interactions between brands and their audiences that you see in traditional marketing. And instead, it creates interactions that are more meaningful and emotional. These emotional interactions not only build loyalty but also encourage people to share their experiences and create FOMO (fear of missing out) — activating the oldest, most tried-and-true form of marketing: word of mouth.
The power of experience
Speaking of “word of mouth,” social millennials and younger generations feel empowered to share what they love with the world via digital platforms. They probably posted a video about your favorite restaurant before it became your favorite restaurant and inspired you to check it out. When you finally went to said restaurant, and everything met your expectations, from the service to the food, from the moment you stepped inside to the moment you walked out the door, you could validate the social media influencer's experience. That restaurant probably moved to the top of your go-to list because of the positive feelings you felt such as:
- Comfort when the host or hostess greeted you with a warm, welcoming grin
- Excitement for your meal to arrive as soon as you smelled the aroma from the kitchen
- Satisfaction as you sank your teeth into each bite of your dinner
That’s the power of experience. Experience conjures feelings, which create memories and loyalty — the glue that holds brands together and makes consumers want to come back time and time again.
Maya Angelou, whom we are convinced had a career as a healthcare marketer, said it best: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This quote articulates what makes experiential marketing so effective. For experiential marketing to work, efforts must be:
- Mutually beneficial to the company and, most importantly, to the consumer
- Mission-focused and in alignment with your organization’s brand
How to Execute an Experiential Marketing Strategy
Experiential marketing involves tactics such as events and event sponsorships as well as strategic partnerships.
Events and event sponsorships
Effective marketing is all about meeting your target audience where they are. It’s no different with experiential marketing. Experiential marketing — specifically events and event sponsorships — takes it a step further by doing two things:
- Meeting them where they’re already engaged in something they’re passionate about
- Enhancing this experience by providing an added benefit that reflects your organization’s brand
Experiential marketing in healthcare can be fun! Golf tournaments, running events, and even music festivals are loaded with your target audience (“Hello”, commercial payers and self-payers with disposable income!). They offer a great opportunity for personal interaction and reinforcement of your organization’s health and wellness brand.
At any of these outdoor events, you could provide items that a festival-goer would need to have a healthy experience: a tent for shade, sunscreen, water, or an apple.
Sticking with the “fun” theme — you may have the data to show that your consumers who are at risk for cardiovascular disease enjoy a good craft beer. And although beer doesn’t scream, “health and wellness,” that doesn’t mean you can’t still find a way to connect with your audience around something they’re passionate about.
At a craft beer festival, you could provide attendees with step trackers. And if they hit 10,000 steps while traveling from booth to booth, then they can enter to win a Yeti tumbler. The lucky winner will likely get a lot of use out of that tumbler and think of your organization every time they use it.
Most importantly, your organization is proving to your consumers that healthy habits are doable. And maybe the ease of walking 10,000 steps will inspire them to finally make that medical appointment they’ve been putting off!
Bottom line: You want to make sure that the event, or the benefit you provide, makes sense for your organization’s brand. This is especially true when the event promotes the opening of a new hospital location.
Go digital to expand your reach
And more good news: events and event sponsorships not only take place live and in-person but also virtually! Recorded webinars and conference sessions exist online across multiple platforms, allowing for a longer period of engagement and a farther geographical reach.
For example, a health insurance company partners with a well-attended international running event series to promote the healthy habit of running and walking. The health insurance company extends its reach beyond race day by partnering with a digital running app.
When participants register for one of the running events, they have the option to download the free app and enroll. For every mile the participant tracks on their smartphone or watch using the app, the health insurance company donates $0.25 to the charity of the participant’s choice.
It’s a win-win for the consumer and the brand
The participant receives motivation to train for the race and feels warm and fuzzy about the health insurance company’s donation to a cause he or she cares about — both leading to a positive experience, feelings, and memories.
Both the running event host and health insurance company have a lot to gain through this partnership.
- Event host: The positive feelings and memories the participant experienced may encourage them to register for another one of their events. Also, their proper training may mean fewer exercise-related injuries or illnesses during the event.
- Health insurance company: The company is promoting a healthy lifestyle by encouraging people to engage in running or walking while simultaneously giving back to charity. Health insurance companies are smart to promote healthy living because healthy individuals make fewer insurance claims.
Strategic partnerships give brands the opportunity to join forces with other brands for a specific purpose. This alignment helps brands pack some extra punch behind their promotion and achieve more with less budget by pooling resources and reaching a new audience (think: cross-promotion). As you know, we are stronger and can get so much more accomplished together than separately.
Examples of strategic partnerships include:
Host a walk to support a cause related to a condition that your hospital treats. These events highlight your organization and give consumers an opportunity to rally around a cause they support while getting exercise. Perhaps they’ll associate that feeling of pride for having done something good with your organization’s brand.
Free employee health fairs
When a large employer in your market invites your organization to a health fair, take them up on it. Employee health fairs are a great way to show the breadth of services your organization offers while delivering immediate value to your ideal target audience: commercial payers, those who have insurance through their employer, as well as those who self-pay. Employers also love health fairs, because healthy employees tend to be more productive employees.
One way that you can show immediate value and enhance workplace productivity while building your organization’s brand is to provide health screenings such as blood pressure, body mass index, or biometric screenings. These screenings serve as another way to show the value your organization offers while promoting wellness.
Those who have insurance through their employer might even qualify for rewards by participating in the screenings. And those who self-pay can certainly appreciate the opportunity to get a free screening.
Athletic team healthcare sponsorship
Does your hospital have a stellar orthopedics or — better yet — sports medicine group? And does your city have an athletic team? If you answered “Yes” to both questions, then you just may have found a winning partnership opportunity.
Here’s how it works: Your organization’s orthopedic or sports medicine group maintains a presence at each home game to provide on-site care for the team or their fans as needed. And the service line — which is likely a huge volume driver for your organization — receives some great marketing.
Whether it's athletic trainers at high school sporting events or stadium care for attendees at the minor league game, having your orthopedic/sports medicine team represented keeps your organization top-of-mind for anyone in need of care.
Ready to go beyond traditional marketing tactics and use experiential marketing to create meaningful interactions that strengthen your organization’s brand? Let’s work together to create an experience that shows and makes your internal and external audiences feel the brand’s mission. Connect with our experts today!