- Starbucks makes sure customers have access to exclusive content through its Starbucks Digital Network.
- Best Buy uses mobile and QR codes to take consumers from the printed circular, online to in-store. Once in-store QR codes continue to help inform the consumer's shopping experience.
- Home Depot's robust how-to channel on YouTube makes easy to see why the brand's in-store demonstrations are a popular way to "turn doing dials up a notch."
These socially-established brands understand the importance of using online and offline to increase customer engagement. The above examples might seem extreme or unrelated to other brands as these three brands have several thousand retail locations between them. So let's look at two, smaller consumer packaged goods examples of using experiential marketing to bring a brand to life.
Peeps Random Acts of Sweetness Tour: Just in time for Easter, the Peepster Volkswagen “chick” is touring "the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest to celebrate its new online store and to connect directly with loyal fans and new fans in select markets."
During the sugar- and marshmallow-fueled road trip, the Peepster will distribute candy and provide photo opps while updating the company's Facebook page. This effort has also resulted in a ton of online buzz in the process.
Little Debbie Million Smile Mission: Little Debbie is going on the road to make one million people smile. It's all thoroughly documented on Facebook. As the Little Debbie's airstream travels across the nation, it is adding photos to its Million Smile Mosaic and giving away prizes -- including an Airstream.
Why Experiential Works
I've always been a fan of mobile marketing. It builds on a consumer's existing brand experiences and connects them directly with the brand to help create even more experiences. But without an online, social component the experience can start and end at a single event. Twitter and Facebook icons festoon the Airstream and the Volkswagen for a very specific reason.
So which comes first -- online or offline? How often is this a linear process? Regardless of which comes first, don't get so focused on the online efforts that we neglect to connect them to and to intensify them with offline efforts.
Cross-posted to my work blog.