What is experiential marketing and why do you need to know about it? Whether you are just starting up a brand or are running an established company, you need to make sure you take every opportunity to connect with your customers and stand out from the crowd.
Competition for your target audience has never been more fierce. To create engaged and loyal customers, you need to use a cross channel marketing plan that includes both traditional marketing methods and experiential marketing campaigns.
Successful experiential marketing campaigns will create a unique and memorable experience for your target audience which will stick in their memory the next time they need to choose between you and a competitor.
Below we will talk you through the essentials of creating an experiential marketing strategy, the benefits of event marketing, and give you some experiential marketing examples to give you some inspiration for your own company.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing campaigns are centered around creating engaging and memorable experiences for existing and potential customers instead of advertising using more traditional marketing methods.
To connect with a modern target audience you need to create an attractive and unique impression that makes them want to learn more about your product or service and what it can offer them.
An experiential marketing campaign will help your brand to stand out from competitors by forging lasting customer relationships and a strong connection. Detailed market research and inventive planning will help you to tailor a unique consumer experience that will attract the attention of your key demographics.
These types of marketing events are usually in-store, hands-on, and person-to-person experiences that encourage customers to engage and participate. This can include setting up a booth or display at an event or location or creating a new event aimed at generating awareness.
Experiential marketing strategies are also known as ground marketing, engagement marketing, or XM campaigns. But they all essentially describe the same process.
Why is Experiential Marketing So Important?
So why is it important to create an experiential marketing strategy for your business? Well, primarily, it’s so important because it is so effective!
A marketing event or experience gives you the opportunity to create brand awareness and create a lasting relationship with potential customers. When you design and execute a winning experiential marketing strategy, you will provide your target audience with an enjoyable and memorable experience that allows them to experience the benefits of your product or service firsthand.
This, in turn, will increase the chances of them purchasing your product and choosing your brand over the competitors in the future.
How Has Experiential Marketing Changed In the Last Few Years?
Different forms of experiential marketing campaigns have been used by marketing companies for a long while. But with the advent of new technology strategies and events have changed a lot over the past few years.
Along with traditional marketing events such as in-store displays, giving out samples, and booths at events – future customers can also attend online events from the comfort of their own homes.
These types of events have become more prolific given recent global events such as the Co-Vid pandemic, increased use of Zoom meetings, and more people working from home. An online experiential marketing campaign can prove very effective as your target audience may be more likely to log in and engage with your company when in the comfort of their own home. They are also more likely to concentrate and engage when not distracted by other people and events.
As technology and lifestyles continue to evolve, so will experiential marketing strategies. Your company needs to meet the requirements and expectations of modern customers if you are going to keep them engaged and interested in your brand.
Professional experiential marketers specialize in creating new and unique brand experiences which will speak to the current interests of and technology used by your potential customers.
What Do Experiential Marketers Do?
Experiential marketers work to research, design, and execute unique and engaging strategies which will highlight all the benefits of your brand and give customers all the reasons they need to buy your products.
An event in an experiential marketing campaign can showcase a new product line, highlight services, and showcase unique selling points by showing them in action.
If you run a company that sells products targeted toward children in South Africa, an experiential marketer will be able to create a fun and unique experience for children that will showcase your merchandise.
The more fun and interesting your customers find the product; the more likely they will be to make a purchase or learn more about what you have on offer. During a successful event or experience, customers will be able to enjoy activities that will demonstrate exactly how your products can improve their lives.
What are The Benefits of an Experiential Marketing Campaign?
Experiential marketing has many associated benefits which will increase brand awareness and improve sales. Depending on how you approach your audience and engage with them you can start to see a noticeable rise in customer loyalty, sales, and company growth. Some of the benefits of this form of marketing include:
Increase Brand Awareness
Whether you are launching your first product or are looking to increase sales for an existing line, making your customers aware of what’s on offer is the most important step. If a customer is going to purchase your product or buy into your brand, they need to be aware of its existence!
When a customer is made aware of a brand through experiential marketing events, this will increase the chances of your company sticking in their mind the next time they need to buy a product.
Creating an engaging and exciting event that targets your key customer demographics and interests them will give you a unique opportunity to establish a lasting connection with your customers and help you stand out from the crowd.
Improve Customer Loyalty
If your business is going to be sustainable, you need to create a loyal customer base who will purchase your products again dn again dn always choose you over your competitors. Along with providing excellent service and experiences, you need to create a memorable experience with your marketing and advertising based on interests and shared values.
Experiential marketing campaigns will allow you to consistently target your potential customers and create memorable experiences which will encourage them to make purchases from you in the future.
The loyal and engaged customers you create will also be more likely to recommend your brand to their friends and family members. And as any business owner or customer will tell you, word-of-mouth promotion is incredibly effective in driving new sales.
Engage With Your Customers
One of the key goals of experiential campaigns is to create engagement with your customers. Developing positive experiences for future customers will increase the chances of them engaging with your products and wanting to try them in the future.
For example, an in-store marketing campaign can demonstrate the uses and benefits of your product or service directly to your customer base. If this is carried out in a fun and engaging way, then a memory and relationship will be created between the customer and the company.
Create Buzz and Increase Awareness
A professional marketing agency can help you to create an experiential strategy that can help you to go viral, increase social media engagement, and improve your company image.
Whereas events such as product demonstrations and in-store samples can be effective in engaging customers on a local level – a creative marketing campaign can create a viral effect that can reach hundreds or thousands of potential customers on social media.
A viral event will be shared by those who attend on their social media and if interesting enough to be liked and shared, can increase the exposure of your brand online. Those attending the event may share photos and videos of the event, of them using your products, and attractive artworks and decor featuring your brand.
A successful experiential marketing campaign that goes viral will result in an increase in followers of your company’s Twitter handle or other social media, more mentions online, and an increase in sales.
An experiential strategy can be created and designed with social media coverage in mind and actively encourage users to share posts using dedicated hashtags to promote the brand online. Social media success is never guaranteed, but a fun and creative experiential campaign will increase your chances of generating valuable viral content.
The benefits and success which make experiential marketing important will depend upon the level of research, expertise, and experience that goes into creating an event or campaign. To make sure you get the best return on your investment in an experiential campaign, you need to make sure that an event or interactive experience is perfectly designed to create experiences that appeal to your audience and encourage visitors to engage further with your brand.
Successful Experiential Marketing Examples
Now that we have looked at how experiential marketing helps to create brand loyalty and improve awareness, let’s take a look at some real-life examples which brought success. Your own event marketing campaign may be on a smaller local scale, or target different audiences. But each of these examples of experiential marketing show how clever planning can help to meet your marketing goals.
Tinder Pride Slide Event
The dating application Tinder used experiential marketing to increase brand loyalty in a physical setting at the New York City Pride event in 2019. The brand aligned itself with the values of socially progressive users and gay customers by installing a 30-foot slide titled the “Pride Slide.”
This installation had a message of “Slide Into Your Senators” displayed on the side and the length of the slide represented the 30 different US states that currently didn’t have any laws protecting the LGBTQ+ company from discrimination.
For every person that took a ride on the slide, Tinder made a $10 donation to support the passing of the Equality Act. To support this campaign, the company also offered free advertising for LGBTQ+ non-profits on their marketing channels.
This participation marketing campaign combined a fun and memorable moment of viral marketing with a clear display of their brand values which were likely to align with those of their customers.
Takeaway – If a customer knows that your brand holds values that are similar to your own and supports causes they care about – you are more likely to be emotionally engaged with the company and pick them over competitors.
Can you plan an event that will generate interest in your product or service and create long term customer loyalty through an in person experience?
NBC Pop Up Shop at SXSW
NBC held in person events at the popular SXSW festival in 2022 to introduce their customers to their new Tv shows. As the shows included several tv shows set in the 1990s such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” and “Girls5eva”, they leaned into a 90s themes which would appeal to millennials.
They set up immersive experiences in a “Peacock Playground” including mazes, an oversized chessboard, and a custom t-shirt station. All of these were aimed to appeal to the childhood and teenage memories of the target audiences for the show. You could even shoot your own 90s-style music video.
Takeaway– This pop up shop provided lots of fun and exciting activities for customers to enjoy and share on their social media. In the process they were advertising their new programs to target viewers, creating an emotional connection between customer and company and also increasing the chances that they would tune in and watch!
JetBlue’s New York Ice Block
To raise brand awareness and announce their new flights from New York to Palm Springs, airline JetBlue came up with a truly unique experiential marketing event. In a striking example of immersive experiences, they set up a large block of ice in New York which contained several vacation-related prizes up for grabs.
New Yorkers passing by were challenged to use whatever they had on them to chip away at the ice and get to the prizes inside. Prizes the airline had on offer included free airline tickets, beach gear, and even golf clubs!
Takeaway – This giveaway helped JetBlue to promote a new product or service while increasing brand awareness online as iconic imagery was shared by participants on their social media channels.
Can Experiential Marketing Campaigns Help With Brand Activation?
Whether you are launching a new brand or a new product line, experiential marketing can be extremely effective as a brand activation tool. You can create a customer experience that will increase awareness of your brand, products, values, and imagery and increase the chances of them buying into your brand.
A brand experience event will let you expose your product or service to target customers in a way that engages and resonates immediately, in person. This will help to create a memory and emotional engagement between the company and the customer and leave a lasting impression that may lead them to make future purchases.
First impressions are key and with an experiential marketing event, you’ll be able to control all the aspects of that first impression. You’ll be able to demonstrate all the benefits of your products and the values of your brand. And you’ll also give your customers a fun and enjoyable experience to associate with your business.
You can plan out every aspect of your brand activation including giveaways, interactions with brand ambassadors, discount codes, and product demonstrations. All of that can help to make your brand activation a profitable success.
Giving your customers a first-hand experience of your product or service is likely to give you a clear return on your investment – whether that is sales on the day, an increase in website traffic, or a larger social media audience.
You’ll also be able to get real-time feedback from your potential customers and answer any questions they have about the product immediately.
How to Create an Experiential Marketing Strategy
Now that we have a clear idea of the aims and benefits of experiential marketing, let’s look at how you can start planning your own campaign. There are various types of marketing events and experiences you can plan according to your industry and target audience.
However, in order to get the best return on your investment, you need to make sure that the event you are planning is right for you and your customers. For this reason, many business owners prefer to hire professional experiential marketers who will be able to create events that are perfectly targeted toward your potential customers.
Here are some of the most successful and effective ways to start including experiential marketing in your advertising and promotional strategies. The best approach for your company will depend on your audience and branding.
What is Event Marketing?
This form of experiential marketing is a popular choice for businesses which will help you to create brand awareness. You can design an event that is likely to appeal to your audience while showcasing the benefits and unique selling points of your products with fun activities and displays.
In order to make sure your event marketing campaign is a success you need to make sure to promote and publicize the occasion beforehand. You want as many of your target audience to attend and engage with your brand as possible.
Pop Up events are a great form of an experiential marketing campaign that can surprise and delight your target audience. As well as increasing brand awareness, they also provide you with valuable physical space to make your first sales and engage directly with potential customers.
Pop Up shops don’t have to be restricted to a display of available products, you can take the opportunity to do demonstrations, have brand ambassadors engage with customers, and illustrate your company story and values. You might also offer limited-edition products to encourage more sales on-site.
To attract customers to your pop up shop you need to make sure you pick the best placement for the event and use an eye-catching and attractive storefront to generate the interest of the passers-by.
A Guerilla Experiential Marketing Campaign
If you are looking for the element of surprise and want to create a viral moment, then guerilla marketing campaigns may be a great fit for your company. Those who use this type of experiential marketing use the unexpected introduction of their products and services to generate attention and awareness. This is usually achieved through unexpected and surprising events and performances.
If you plan a guerilla marketing campaign that motivated customers to engage this can increase their emotional engagement with your brand and how memorable they find your products. You can do this by offering prizes, and discounts, or issuing a challenge to participants.
A successful guerilla marketing campaign can lead to an increase in social media followers and website hits, as participants organically promote your brand by sharing their experience (and your products) online.
Conclusion – What is Experiential Marketing? Examples and Beginners Guide
Creating engaging and fun experiential marketing strategies can be a very effective way to hit your marketing goals, improve your profits, and support business growth. By creating an interesting and memorable experience for your target audience, you will get potential customers talking and thinking about your brand and your product or service.
However, you need to make sure that every aspect of your event is perfectly targetted to appeal to your potential customers and showcases your products to the best effect.
For more information about how to create a winning experiential marketing campaign that is effective and targeted towards your key customers – contact Isilumko Activate today.
Our marketing agency in South Africa has all the experience, expertise, and creativity needed to make sure that your next promotional event gives you the best possible return on your investment.