Why does Betfair incorporate experiential as part of its events strategy?
It is an essential tool for us to achieve a two-way dialogue with our customers, get them really engaged in our brand in a real-life experience and make them our brand advocates, so that they are passionate about us, talk about us and we are their buying preference.
How have you used experiential to achieve brand advocacy?
Cheltenham Festival is the perfect example of this - we really 'own' Cheltenham during the event. We are not actually a main sponsor, but we take over the station so that the message is right there in front of our customers when they get off the train. We brand all the buses, have a branded pub called the Betfair Arms that can get a bit lively sometimes, and have our brand ambassadors - who are not bad-looking girls - lining the streets of the town, giving out these now-famous yellow scarves that everybody loves to have. Everywhere you look there is a sea of yellow around Cheltenham during the festival.
How else does Betfair use experiential?
Another example of this is a brand called Betfair Bespoke that we created about six months ago. It involves really high-end incentives aimed at our most important customers, our high-rollers, who are incredibly important to us. There is a lot of competition out there for them. We took the view that we needed a tiered approach to our entertaining, which is how Betfair Bespoke was born. We link ourselves to brands such as F1, taking people away on trips around the world and providing top hospitality, including business-class fights. We keep people happy by laying on the best entertainment you can find in whichever city we are in, and really make sure our guests feel engaged and loyal to us.
How important is experiential as part of Betfair's overall marketing strategy?
I think it's essential. You can't really feel anything for a brand unless you come to something like this and experience it, and that's where you start to achieve a deeper level of engagement with - and understanding of - your consumers.
What we undertake here is so different to what our competitors do. You cannot underestimate the importance of people having the right perception of your brand and feeling as if it is something different and special - that's why we invest in experiential.
What does Betfair look for in an agency partner?
When we are choosing an agency for our experiential events, it is really important that they have the latest cutting-edge technology. We are a technology company and we need to reflect that in everything we do, including elements such as the giant screens you see today in our lounge.
I look for someone who can challenge me creatively and help push the boundaries, so that together we end up with a great finished product. I also want someone I really get on with.
WHAT THE AGENCIES SAY
IAN PRIESTMAN, PROJECT DIRECTOR, BLACKJACK
Betfair has understood how to make the most of experiential, delivering stand-out and creating brand advocates. It is maximising its budget, ensuring the festival has multiple touch-points and delivering the Betfair brand without the usual high spend on title sponsorship. It has a broad spectrum of clients, engaging and delivering the correct message and service to each. Customers trust Betfair and see it as a friendly brand - essential when winning and retaining those consumers.
SHAZ SMILANSKY, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, BLAZINSTAR EXPERIENTIAL
This is a great example of using a high-footfall, targeted event to generate awareness. To take it a step further, we would recommend an immersive experience at the core to fully engage. To extend reach, you could start a dialogue and create excitement before the event, then utilise content afterwards. Our philosophy would be to place the live brand experience at the core of the strategy, and use other 'amplification channels' such as social media and radio to achieve this. The possibilities are endless.
DAN HALL, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, ID EXPERIENTIAL
Chantal talks like a true experiential marketer and events such as Cheltenham make perfect sense as an environment in which to activate the brand. But it's not tough to make this kind of campaign work; gaming consumers don't need much persuading to engage when 'not bad-looking girls' are offering free bets. I've no doubt Cheltenham is working for Betfair, but I've never heard of anything it's doing in the press or from competitors. Maybe she should take a punt on a new agency this year.
MICHAEL WYRLEY-BIRCH, MANAGING DIRECTOR, TRO
Whereas so many other marketing disciplines involve a single generic message being broadcast across a range of market segments, Betfair's tiered experiential approach enables tailored activity to target key customer groups, while still permitting continued engagement with mainstream consumers. It doesn't have to be an either/or. Different methods of direct engagement can be applied simultaneously to reach selected customer segments, and, depending on a brand's objectives, this targeted strategy can embrace new prospects, lapsed customers or any other identified demographic profile.