Transforming customers into fans

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Having your customers be your no.1 fans – your own cheerleaders who make the case for your brand – is surely the goal every B2C marketer strives for.

Have you got yourself a cheerleader?

Your customers are not only selling for you, but they communicate in a far more powerful way than any content your brand can create. What could be better than to have the people buying your products effectively selling your products for you!?

So how can the brand create this network of fans that’s more of a challenge?

It starts with understanding the audience.

How to stop worrying and love the millennial

The demands and desires of the consumer are changing and diversifying at a fast pace thanks to the more specific needs of the millennial audience.

These guys are digital natives who have grown up and matured with mobile technology and as such expect to be able to use it in every aspect of their life. Constantly on a variety of social media platforms to document their every move, updating their profiles to project how they’d like to be seen by the world, they are the most confident, outgoing consumer group in the history of consumerism. However, sharing an experience that’s similar to what everyone else is doing isn’t enough for the millennial – what will really drive the “likes” and “shares” is experiencing (and, of course, posting) something different.

By wanting to be seen as influencers and trendsetters, the millennial seek a personalised, exclusive experience – one that makes them feel special and can proudly show-off to their friends and followers. To put it another way: millennials want a customer-centric experience in which they feel wanted and valued.

So what’s the answer to the original question about transforming consumers into fans? To create a memorable experience, one they’ll want to coming back for time-and-time again.

Stand out from the competition through experiential events

Most brands are already successful in creating memorable experiences, however, the challenge in the entertainment world continues as consumers nowadays are spoiled for choice.

It’s very rare that a consumer is easily surprised, and with that brand owners and marketers are continually faced with an ever-demanding list of expectations. The challenge is on for us all to create something different.

Consumers want and need events that allow them to engage with the particular brand or product in a unique way. Creating an experience through an event can enable brands to create something memorable for their audience that exceeds every day expectations and eventually transforms their regular consumer into a fan.

For me, it’s about interactivity. We need to concentrate on finding new ways to turn that 'spectator consumer' into a 'participant'. Creating an event that puts consumers at the heart of the experience allows brands to tell their story in a unique and engaging way, evoking emotions and lasting memories.

A great example of an experience that has transformed consumers into fans is Secret Cinema. Now in its tenth year, founder Fabien Riggal started the immersive cinema experience by recalling a childlike feeling of “wanting to live inside the film”. By allowing audiences to feel the story rather than just see it, the result is one that combines a traditional cinematic experience however with closer links to a rock concert and music festival. And best of all for attendees: unlike a normal film that’s shown across the world for a number of weeks, Secret Cinema is limited to a couple of showings only. An exclusive event that, you guessed it, people love telling their friends about.

Engage and entertain the consumer and they will buy into your brand forever

Through immersive experiences stronger relationship are formed and brands are able to connect with consumers like never before. Special and experiential events provide the perfect platform for brands to engage first-hand with consumers as they create something memorable and something they’ll happily and willingly campaign for on your behalf.

If consumers are converted into fans during your event they will undoubtedly come back for more, ensuring you gain a brand ambassador for life!

This article originally appeared in The Drum Network Entertainment special

Paris Brosnan-Green, head of events, Lick Creative

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