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More Than “Points:” Driving Emotional Connections With Loyalty Marketing

Experiential Marketing

Consumers’ expectations are higher than ever before. Not only do they want brands to convince them why their products and services are better than the rest, they also want exciting rewards and incentives in exchange for giving them their business. 

In order to reach new customers and retain existing ones, brands are implementing exciting and engaging loyalty marketing strategies. 

Loyalty marketing can be much more than simply creating a “points” system. Check out these brands that are giving loyalty marketing the “experiential” touch.

Loyalty Marketing

Sephora Gives Loyalty Marketing a Makeover

When it launched in 2007, Sephora’s “Beauty Insider” program was initially designed to reward “Insiders” with a selection of free product samples. 13 years ago, this was a first-of-its-kind strategy, giving customers access to high-end, luxury products and brands they normally would not have been aware of, or able to afford. 

Two years after “Beauty Insider” came “Very Important Beauty Insider,” for customers spending more than $350 per year at Sephora. With additional rewards, Sephora created an incentive for a higher level of engagement.  

Then, in 2013 came “Rogue Insider,” created for Sephora’s highest spenders ($1,000 or more annually). “Rogue Insiders” are given exclusive, first-access to new and limited-edition products. 

Sephora’s loyalty marketing is more than “free samples.” What separates Sephora has been its ability to tap into the emotional drivers that create “brand loyalty.”

In 2017, Sephora introduced its “Beauty Insider Community,” giving customers a real-time social forum to ask questions, find inspiration, and get to know fellow beauty-lovers just like themselves. 

And, the “Beauty Insider” program continues to evolve experientially, with rewards focused on creating memorable experiences, from a tour of and tasting at Francis Ford Coppola’s Winery in Sonoma County and a signed copy of “The Rihanna Book” by the songstress herself along with a curated collection of her favorite “Fenty Beauty” products, to a host of virtual events this year in partnership with Instagram and its annual birthday gift for all “Insiders” (a perennial fan favorite). 

Today, Sephora’s “Beauty Insider” boasts 25 million members worldwide and growing, thanks to the emotional bond they share with their customers along their beauty journey. 


Nike’s Inclusive/Exclusive Community

In 2018, Nike revamped their “NikePlus Membership” in an effort to turn casual Nike customers into loyal members (and bigger spenders). Their loyalty marketing strategy was simple; “the more active you are, the more you’re rewarded. 

Their “NikePlus Unlocks” perks included access to Apple Music, Headspace (a guided meditation app), and ClassPass (a fitness class app). With Apple Music, generally costing $9.99 per month for a subscription, members are given the ability to set and reach personal fitness goals or purchase “exclusive Nike products” in order to unlock free Apple Music playlists or months of free streaming.

Along with having the chance to enhance your fitness routine and interact with like-minded community members, “NikePlus Unlocks” is personalized to individual members’ tastes.

Whether it’s a member’s birthday (offering product discounts throughout the entire month), receiving a “tailored-to-you” gift when you make a purchase, or exclusive VIP experiences (like, courtside seats to your favorite NBA team’s home games), “NikePlus Unlocks” is intuitive. The more you visit Nike.com, and/or its other apps, the more personalized it becomes to your interests.  

Ultimately, the goal of “NikePlus Unlocks” is to create a made-for-you experience that combines both digital and physical interactions with the Nike brand. 


Kohl’s Creates the “Hollywood Experience”

Kohl’s may not be the first brand that comes to mind when you think of luxury experiences, but the retail department store may have one of the most head-turning loyalty marketing programs for its customers with their “Yes2You” program. 

While its “points program” and “dollar rewards”, along with birthday gifts and special incentives to earn points faster are popular, Kohl’s wants their everyday customers to feel extra special with one-of-a-kind rewards, like tickets to Hollywood movie premieres and live events (including their recent health and wellness-themed “Motivation Market,” featuring “The Biggest Loser” celebrity trainer Bob Harper). 

In 2016, 10 “Yes2You” members (and a guest) were surprised with the ultimate VIP experience at that year’s American Music Awards. Each winner received a makeover by a celebrity stylist, walking the red carpet at the AMAs, VIP seats at the show, and tickets to a VIP after party.

Kohl's Yes2You Program

With nearly 10 million viewers watching the AMAs that year, Kohl’s was able to capitalize on the once-in-a-lifetime experience it offered their customers. Today, there are over 40 million “Yes2You” members and Kohl’s has continued to expand their loyalty marketing program with personalized makeovers as well as selecting members as models for Kohl’s fashion shoots. 


Make Lasting Connection with Creative Loyalty Marketing 

Experiential marketing and loyalty marketing go hand-in-hand. It’s all about making impressions that stick in customers’ minds, keeping them coming back to your brand time and again. 

But, you don’t need to think big in order to make an impact. It’s all about what makes the most sense for your brand, your target audience, and your budget. The goal of luxury marketing is the bond it cements between your brand and your customers. 

So, whether you want to go big or go smaller, what matters is giving customers an experience they’ll want to tell their friends and family about or post on social media, giving your brand to chance to reach new fans and make lasting connections with the ones you already have.

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Field Marketing Tips to Make Your Product Launch a Success


With tech dominating our everyday interactions, engaging with customers face-to-face is still at the heart of a winning marketing strategy. Check out these tips on how the right field marketing strategy can work for you and your brand. 

In an age where seemingly everything is available online and at the click of a button, (surprisingly) we still spend a large part of our time interacting with real people, IRL. 

As long as that remains true, there will always be an opportunity for field marketers to influence consumer trends and how customers interact with brands and experiences, up-close-and-personal. 

If you want to take your next campaign or activation to the next level, find out how field marketing can help reach your target audience and make your product launch a success. 

Uber Eats IPO Field Marketing Campaign

What is Field Marketing?

If you’re in sales or marketing, you’ve probably heard the words “field marketing” thrown around. But, what does that exactly mean and do you really know what field marketing is and its benefits when it comes to helping your business or brand?

In simplest terms, field marketing is when companies bring their products directly to consumers. From public events to retail location, college campuses, etc… field marketers implement initiatives that can include live demos, direct sales, and promotions. 

And, field marketing and experiential marketing go hand-in-hand. According to Lynda Edge, chief executive of U.K. field marketing company Headcount Worldwide, “Experiential marketing is just one of the many field-marketing disciplines – it doesn’t matter what you call it, it is still a face-to-face communication between the brand and the consumer.”

Twitter Field Marketing NYC

As with experiential marketing, executing a great field marketing strategy means successfully telling a brand’s story and bringing it to life directly to customers. What does that achieve? As Rene Ramos, vice president of field marketing/lifestyle and experiential marketing at Charles Smith Wines explained, “… If we’re consistent with our messaging and authentic to it, it will drive consumers down the funnel and we truly believe that we can ultimately create brand fans out of experiential marketing if we do it the right way.”


Knowledge is Power

Having that “deer in headlights” look without a clue as to what you’re selling or promoting, in front of customers looking for information, is the stuff of nightmares for even the most seasoned marketers. What’s the point of putting all that time, energy, and money into an activation or event when you don’t know the ins-and-outs of what everyone is actually there to experience?   

With a deep understanding of your product, you will automatically be able to speak with confidence and be an authority on the subject. What does this accomplish? Without having to rely on a script or pitch, you can spark a conversation with consumers, engage with them, and create a compelling reason why your product is perfect for them. 

Ralph Lauren Field Marketing


So, now that you know all there is to know about your product, what’s next? Well, you need an effective strategy. What are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish with your field marketing event or activation? Knowing this is just as important as knowing how to convey your message. 

The concept of SMART goals is not limited solely to marketing (experiential, field, or otherwise). Most industries apply this rule in one form or another. But, what does SMART stand for?

Specific: Your goal is detailed and meaningful

Measurable: Your goal is quantifiable to track progress/success

Achievable: Your goal is realistic

Relevant: Your goal is aligned with your brand’s mission/essence

Time-bound: Your goal has a deadline

If you’re developing a marketing strategy that has a great vision, but lacks concrete marketing objectives, your field marketing team will struggle, be unprepared, and ultimately fail. Having a straightforward plan allows your vision the opportunity to thrive once it’s activated on the field. 


After The Party

Now that your team of experts has successfully executed your SMART goals you’re done, right? Wrong. 

Just because the party’s over doesn’t mean your work is finished. It may have felt like a success, but was it really? Were your SMART goals achieved? Measure your results using data analytics like KPIs (key performance indicators), CTR (click-through rate) or unique visits to your website in the coming days, weeks, and beyond. They can all provide valuable insight into your field marketing strategy, what worked, what didn’t and take any action needed. Because, evaluating the data is only as useful as what you do with it. 

Plus, there’s money to be made when your field marketing strategy is a success. Research conducted by the Event Marketing Institute found that 74% of event attendees surveyed said they had a more positive opinion about a brand and 98% said they felt more inclined to make a purchase after attending an event.

Hit the Streets with Solid Field Marketing

One of the oldest (and most reliable) forms of marketing (remember that door-to-door Mary Kay salesperson?), field marketing is a tried and true strategy to taking your brand out of the boardroom and to the people. 

In an age where the consumer market is more competitive than ever, putting a face to your brand with a knowledgeable field marketing team, who truly understands your brand’s goals, and knows how to drive data in the right direction is one of the most important drivers when it comes to any successful experiential marketing strategy.  

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The Evolution of Experiential Marketing

Experiential Marketing

“Immersive,” “multi-sensory,” “emotional,” “engaging.” Those are the fundamentals to “experiential marketing,” seemingly the most innovative promotional strategy in any successful brand’s playbook.  

But, experiential marketing is more than a 21st century buzzword. Brands have employed various forms of experiential marketing for over a century. 

From product demonstrations and event marketing vehicles, to immersive experiences and pop-up events, let’s take a look at how the experiential marketing has evolved from the late 19th century to 2020. 

Samples and Demonstrations: Experiential Marketing in the 19th Century

1893 World's Fair

Remembered more for being the first World’s Fair powered by the new technological invention of the day: electricity, the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago also featured the first documented examples of experiential marketing. 

Brands that still exist in 2020 like Wrigley’s, Cracker Jack, and Pabst’s all debuted at that year’s exhibition. And, there are few places better to launch your brand than at an event that saw over 27 million visitors throughout a six-month period. 

With 46 countries represented across an estimated 690 acres of space, the immense challenge presented of separating one brand from another and standing out from the rest was an understatement. 

Thus “product sampling” was born,. with even Wrigley’s founder William Wrigley Jr. personally handing out free samples of “Juicy Fruit,” hoping to entice customers to his brand. 

Product demonstrations also made their debut at that year’s festivities. With good reason too, as most people had never seen (let alone used) as the world’s first dishwasher. 

Invented in 1886 by American housewife Josephine Cochrane in the shed behind her home in Shelbyville, Illinois, she exhibited her invention and won top honors for “best mechanical construction.” While you may not be familiar with her name, you’ll instantly recognize the company she would later go on to found: KitchenAid. 

Marking the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, the 1893 World’s Fair blended innovation and entertainment to captivate visitors with one of the first engaging and interactive experiences. 

Event Marketing Vehicles of the 1930s

Also known as “mobile marketing,” event marketing vehicles have been a tried-and-true tactic since the birth of the Model-T. Nothing attracts a crowd like a decked-out car, truck, or double-wide trailer designed to generate buzz and grab onlookers’ attention. 

But, one of the most iconic event marketing vehicles isn’t actually a “vehicle.” Not in the traditional sense, at least. Since their first appearance in 1933, celebrating the repeal of Prohibition, the legendary Budweiser Clydesdales have become the quintessential American symbol of “mobile marketing.” 

Today, the Budweiser Clydesdales travel over 100,000 miles each year across North America and abroad. And, they’re no strangers to TV broadcasts and parades. From the Super Bowl to not one, but two Presidential inaugurations (Harry Truman in 1949 and Bill Clinton in 1993), these event marketing vehicles have been running on some real “horsepower” for almost 90 years.

No list of “classic event marketing vehicles” would be complete without mentioning the most recognizable and unique custom-branded vehicle on the road today: the Oscar Mayer “Wienermobile.”

Debuting in 1936, the Wienermobile was the brainchild of the nephew of founder Oscar Mayer, who wanted to promote the family’s hot dog brand in an unconventional and eye-catching way. Hitting the streets of Chicago, the Wienermobile and it’s driver (known as a “hotdogger”) used “street marketing” (giving out free toy whistles shaped like the classic vehicle) in an effort to drive brand awareness and loyalty. 

The Rise of Guerilla Marketing in the 80s and 90s

In 1984, business writer and marketer Jay Conrad Levinson wrote one of the seminal books in the whole of marketing: “Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business,” as brands transitioned from traditional print, television, and radio marketing. 

In an effort to educate businesses on how to effectively market their brands on-a-budget and in headline-grabbing ways, Levinson’s strategy zeroed in on utilizing “the element of surprise” to create an unexpected and memorable experience for consumers.

By the 1990s, guerrilla marketing became as commonplace as an advertisement in a magazine or on a billboard, from gorgeous models on sunny Spring Break beaches promoting the perfect summertime products, to college campuses bombarded with “street teams” marketing everything from beer koozies to free pizza. 

Guerrilla Marketing Jay Conrad Levinson

Almost 40 years after the initial release of Levinson’s book (which, to date has sold over 21 million copies worldwide), the fundamentals of guerilla marketing are still relevant today. Even as the marketing landscape continues to evolve perceptions and expectations of what experiential marketing is, brands will almost always get people talking with campaigns that disrupt norms and put a premium on “brash,” “edgy,” and “alternative.”

Social Media Transforms the 21st Century

From viral marketing, to immersive experiences, and pop-up events, experiential marketing of the past 20 years has seen a rapid acceleration than the preceding 100 years. In large part, this technological shift can be credited to the societal dominance of social media.

Before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, experiential marketing existed in a limited space, where only consumers who directly engaged with an activation were impacted. With social media, brands now have access to the world and they use that access to their advantage. 

It’s more common than not to see a social media hashtag accompanying an experiential marketing campaign. Think, Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke or Disney and Make-A-Wish Foundation’s #ShareYourEars campaigns, which reached millions globally and drove the conversation long after their primary events were over. 

Experiential marketing activations have also become featured spotlights at some of the world’s biggest events. From the Super Bowl and SXSW, to Coachella and Comic-Con, brands are using immersive experiences (with the help of VR, AR, and simulators) to (almost) literally transport consumers into their “story.” 

And, talking about experiential marketing in the 21st century has to include “pop-ups,” which liberate brick-and-mortar retailers from the confinements of their four-walls. With the ability to highlight who they are while putting a spotlight on their products or services, pop-up events can take place almost anywhere and anytime.

The Ever-Changing Experiential Marketing Landscape

For over 125 years, experiential marketing has been a part of our collective consciousness. And, while it’s come a long way from the 1893 World’s Fair, its core principles remain the same: effective emotional engagement. That connection is what boosts sales, drives loyalty, and helps brands withstand the test of time.

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Food Trucks in LA: Transforming the Experiential Marketing Game

Experiential Marketing

When it comes to experiential marketing in one of the world’s most star-studded cities, serve up a taste of glitz and glam with food trucks in L.A. 

In 2020, coveting a loyal consumer market is more arduous than ever. And that means brands are producing experiences that are more engaging in order to make a lasting impression. 

Simply put, no activation is too “out-of-the-box” to transform the experiential marketing game. 

It comes as no surprise that Los Angeles has a seemingly endless amount of experiential marketing options to choose from. Why not take your next activation from “ordinary” to “extraordinary” with an L.A. food truck featuring some of the best eats and experiences in one of the world’s most star-studded locations. 

Nespresso Vintage Truck LA

Let the Music Play

With L.A. serving as the record capital of the world, creating a buzzworthy promotion ahead of an album’s release is nothing new in an industry that is notoriously competitive. Artists and labels have taken note and are using the power of food trucks hitting the streets of L.A. to capture the attention (and appetites) of hungry fans. 

Back in February, ahead of the launch of his fifth studio album Changes, Justin Bieber was seen serving dollar fish tacos and grilled cheese sandwiches out of a pop-up food truck in L.A. appropriately called “Yummy,” after the Changes’ lead single. 

No. The 25 year-old hit-maker wasn’t planning a new venture as a restauranteur. With cameras for The Late Late Show With James Corden on-hand, the event was paired along with Bieber’s appearance on the talk-show host’s hit segment “Carpool Karaoke.”

 As with almost every move the “Sorry” singer makes, Bieber’s posts documenting his food truck foray (with proceeds going to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank) went viral and generated over four million likes across Instagram and Twitter.

Justin Bieber Yummy Food Truck LA

Last summer, Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith) used the release of his album Erys to pay it forward by feeding the homeless along L.A.’s Skid Row with a pop-up vegan food truck called “I Love You Restaurant.” 

Smith and a team of volunteers fed an estimated 8,000 people in need, while a nearby truck promoted his album. The event not only helped plug Erys, but his novel act of “giving back” garnered even more press from the likes of CBS News, the L.A. Times, and USA Today.

Turn Your Food Truck Into a Product Launch

Sure. It’s hard to talk about food trucks in L.A. without adding a little (or a lot of) star-power, but L.A. is also one of the world’s trendiest food and beverage destinations. When Nespresso, one of the world’s top luxury coffee and espresso brands recently launched their Nordic Limited Edition Flavors, they hit the road with a six-week cross-country experiential marketing food truck promotion.

Nespresso Truck LA

Two of their spots on their coffee-fueled road trip? L.A. famous Rodeo and Beverly Drive (parked right in front of their flagship store). With a mobile showroom displaying their state-of-the-art machines, Nespresso served up their world-famous hot and iced coffees to intrigued caffeine-lovers. 

In 2019, Glacéau Vitaminwater developed a clever, two-tiered, activation for their latest Fire and Ice flavors. With a social media push, TV commercials, in-store merchandising, and temporary website, the brand touted a fictional reality-TV series Xtreme Urban Farming. The fictitious show followed a “farmer” who develops the “peppermelon,” a watermelon/hot pepper hybrid used to create Vitaminwater Fire.

Vitaminwater took it’s real product on tour across L.A., New York, Boston, and at that year’s SXSW in Austin, delivering samples of the fiery/sweet beverage to consumers. 


Experiential Marketing on Wheels with Food Trucks in L.A.

Brands across a wide-spectrum can use L.A., and the instant publicity the famed city brings with it, as a blank canvas that brings their experiential marketing campaigns to new heights.

Why limit yourself to old-fashioned brick-and-mortar when you can put your activation on cruise control and ride into the sunset along Pacific Coast Highway, with events that engage and excite, using food trucks in L.A. 

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Experiences Without Borders: The Rise of Virtual Events

Experiential Marketing

With COVID-19 affecting our face-to-face interactions, virtual events have become the new way to execute experiential marketing events. Check out how you can implement well-executed virtual events into your brand’s marketing strategy. 

As the world continues to deal with impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of this year’s mass-gatherings have been cancelled, leaving brands searching for a scaled-down alternative to large-scale experiential marketing campaigns.

Fortunately, modern technology has made it possible to host stunning virtual events that rival even many face-to-face activations. 

Let’s take a look at what virtual events are, why they’re worth your time, and how you can take in-person sensibilities and apply them to the digital world.  

Virtual Reality


Rethinking the Value of Face-to-Face Interactions

In the age of coronavirus, brands and agencies have had to rethink entire marketing strategies, devoid of the in-person interactions that are a cornerstone of experiential marketing campaigns leveraging one, some, or all five senses. 

But, today it’s COVID-19. Tomorrow, it could be something else. Crises have always forced marketers to think outside-the-box, and whether it’s a venue cancellation or a public health emergency, necessity is the mother of invention. 

Virtual events, also known as “online events,” are interactive gatherings that are liberated from the constraints of a single, brick-and-mortar location. While some events are completely virtual, with participants attending from locations convenient to them, other virtual events combine both in-person and virtual elements, also known as “hybrid events.”

According to virtual events platform 6Connex, the overall industry has increased an astonishing 1,000% since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led to global shelter-in-place/stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines. 

However you choose to host your virtual event, it’s more than simply plugging in your computer. While it’s impossible to predict every obstacle, having a defined roadmap with clear objectives can help you accomplish your goals and host a successful virtual event. 

1 What is your brand trying to accomplish?

2 Who is your target audience?

3 What is the “key messaging” you want to convey?

4 What do you want attendees to take away from your virtual event?

5 What are your goals and/or KPIs that will measure the event’s success?

When you can answer these questions, you can unlock the power to reach people on a global scale, right where they are.

Zoom Meeting


Why Virtual Events are Valuable to Your Brand

In 2020, there are numerous ways to execute a virtual event. From “on-demand” and “broadcast,” to “augmented reality” (AR) and “virtual reality” (VR), brands have the ability to tap into innovative technologies that engage with audiences on a level on-par with, or even superior to, face-to-face events. But, it’s your job to focus on the type of virtual experience you feel will best serve your needs. 

So, now you know about all of the technical wizardry you can bring to the table for your virtual event, but you may be wondering why they’re valuable to add to your experiential marketing strategy. 

For one, virtual events allow brands to reach a wide audience. With virtual events, travel isn’t an issue to think about and they’re also more cost effective, without the big budgets associated with booking large venues and hiring temporary event staff. Plus, those lower costs can translate to savings for virtual attendees with reduced ticket prices. 

Virtual Events Experiential Marketing

Another benefit of virtual events is that they’re easily measurable in almost real-time. Depending on the goals and KPIs you’ve set for your event, you can quickly find out how many attendees there were, how they paid for their tickets, which parts of your event were most popular, and more.

With the ability to track, analyze, and measure your virtual event, your brand can utilize those metrics to better strengthen and position your event strategy. 


Make the Most of Your Virtual Event

In our socially distant world, virtual events are thriving. In April alone, video conference company Zoom saw a 30-fold increase in usage of its software with a peak of 300 million daily participants in virtual meetings. 

But, the question remains “what can brands do to produce high-quality virtual events filled with meaningful interactions and engaging content”? While there are various ways to ensure your virtual event is a success, there are a handful of “best practices” you should always keep in mind.

1 Have a game plan that fits your brand’s needs and goals. Every event should start with a well-defined vision with measurable goals to track your success.

2 Make sure the time is right. Virtual events are global events. So, aside from making sure there aren’t competing events or holidays you may not be familiar with, take time zones that work for your attendees into consideration as well. Depending on the scope of your event’s reach, you may want to plan for multiple sessions across several time zones and/or make content accessible after live sessions for those who couldn’t make it.

3 Prepare for “technical difficulties.” If you’ve ever been part of a video conference or webinar, you know how technical glitches can negatively impact the flow and presentation of a virtual event. Have you and your participants tested WiFi connections? Do you have backup files of visuals and PowerPoints? Have you performed a dry-run of your virtual event to make sure less tech-savvy participants are well-prepared? The sooner you can anticipate problems, the sooner you can create solutions for them.

4 Make your event engaging. Without face-to-face interactions and connections, it’s fairly easy for a virtual event to come across as “cold” and “distant.” When you create more opportunities for engagement, your audience is more compelled to participate. From Q&As and shoutouts, to polls and asking for feedback, your event has a higher chance of getting people to tune-in when they feel the event is inclusive and participatory.


Remove Barriers and Reach More People with Virtual Events 

If your brand has never hosted a virtual event, the challenge may seem daunting. But, when done right, your brand has the ability to cast a wide net and reach more people on a global scale. And, all while following social distancing guidelines and government regulations.  

As long as you have a detailed plan with measurable goals and your attendees wants/needs in mind, coupled with the resources to ensure your event goes off without a hitch, and innovative activities to keep your audience thoroughly engaged, hosting a virtual event can provide your brand with exceptional results.

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