It’s time to move away from tradition and embrace change - embrace fun.
It’s time to start seeking more innovative ways to stand out from the noise and forge meaningful connections with your customers.
“But, Charley, how do I do this? Our customers are inundated with advertising messages at every turn and everything I try just isn’t cutting it anymore.”
Enter experiential marketing.
The power of experiential marketing lies in its ability to engage, not only the mind but also the senses and emotions. This, in turn, creates memorable interactions that leave a lasting impact.
In this article, we’re gonna talk all about how to effectively craft an experiential marketing strategy that transcends the transactional and transforms ordinary interactions into extraordinary memories.
- What is experiential marketing?
- Why is experiential marketing important for field marketers and revenue marketers?
- 4 real-life experiential marketing examples
- How to build an experiential marketing strategy
What is experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing is about creating live experiences that allow customers to engage with a brand in an interactive, hands-on way. The goal is to make these experiences memorable and shareable, forming an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand.
Immersive, interactive experiences
Rather than passive advertising, experiential marketing lets consumers actively participate. This could involve things like pop-up shops, brand activations at events and festivals, virtual or augmented reality (VR or AR) experiences, and other ways for customers to immerse themselves in branded interactions. The key is letting people engage on their own terms.
Memorable encounters that resonate
This marketing strategy aims to provide unique encounters that stand out from typical ads and resonate on a personal, emotional level. Using things like free samples, games, VR, contests, and other participatory experiences, brands can shape more meaningful impressions that last. When done right, these types of live brand experiences become unforgettable.
Consumers as active participants
In experiential marketing, the consumer takes an active role rather than just receiving brand messages passively. By letting customers interact with products and services directly, they can shape their own brand perceptions through these immersive experiences. Participation makes for deeper engagement.
Real-world, public spaces
Rather than mass media ads, experiential marketing unfolds in real-world public spaces where audiences already gather - think events, festivals, street teams, pop-up shops, etc. This allows brands to mesh with moments in consumers' lifestyles and become part of the experience in an organic way.
Multisensory for maximum impact
Experiential marketing uses multiple senses like touch, sight, sound, and even smell and taste sometimes. This multisensory approach drives deeper emotional impact and impression than ads that only use a single sense like visuals or audio. The more senses involved, the more memorable the experience.
Shareable moments that spread
A core goal of experiential marketing is creating sharable moments that consumers will want to talk about and post on social media. These viral earned media moments organically spread brand awareness. By crafting experiences people find exciting and worthwhile to share, brands gain extended reach.
Why experiential marketing is important for field marketers and revenue marketers
Benefits for field marketers
Experiential marketing is a valuable strategy for field marketers because it enables direct consumer engagement in public spaces where field marketers operate. It also complements other field efforts like sampling and events by adding an interactive element.
Hands-on interactions allow field marketers to shape brand impressions in real time through consumers' experience. An experiential approach also utilizes field marketing strengths in rapid deployment and consumer engagement.
Benefits for revenue marketers
For revenue marketers, experiential marketing creates an interactive sales channel to actively pitch and close deals rather than passive advertising. Events and activations generate sales leads by capturing contact info. Product demos and trials fuel sales by allowing hands-on engagement before purchase.
The exciting experiential environment is more dynamic for sales than stale stores. And positive brand impressions developed through experiential participation encourage purchasing.
4 experiential marketing real-life examples
Red Bull Stratos
In 2012, Red Bull sponsored Austrian Skydiver Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking high-altitude skydive from 24 miles above Earth. This stunt generated huge publicity and reinforced Red Bull's energetic brand image.
- Pushing human limits - By supporting Felix Baumgartner’s record skydive, Red Bull associated themselves with doing groundbreaking things never been done before. It embodied their slogan “Red Bull Gives You Wings”.
- Global live-stream - The jump was live-streamed worldwide, giving massive exposure to Red Bull's brand and logo as Felix descended. Over 50 million people tuned in.
- Social media buzz - The event generated huge buzz and viral discussion on social media, reinforcing Red Bull's image as a daring and trendy brand.
The Ice Hotel
Every year, the Ice Hotel in Sweden is rebuilt using just snow and ice. Guests can have a unique experience staying overnight in this unusual hotel. It aligns with their brand promise of providing exceptional experiences.
Staying in a hotel made of ice is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that aligns with the brand's focus on extraordinary experiences. It generates free publicity and word-of-mouth buzz each year.
- Unique experience - Staying overnight in a hotel made of ice and snow is something you can’t do anywhere else. The novelty provides a once-in-a-lifetime memory.
- Changes annually - The hotel is rebuilt with new designs each year, giving returning guests a fresh experience and fueling social media interest.
- Natural materials - Using just ice and snow plays up the brand's connection to nature and the environment in a stunning way.
Disney ‘Wonder of Friendship’ pop-up stores
These immersive stores allowed customers to interact with the movie universes in a deeper way. They generated hype and anticipation for the films leading up to their launch.
- Themed interiors - Disney recreated the movie worlds through detailed props, music, and environments, letting customers feel immersed in the films.
- Movie previews - Advance movie trailers and exclusive clips helped build buzz and anticipation leading up to premieres.
- Social media engagement - Interactive photo ops in the stores drove social sharing and word-of-mouth marketing.
Cisco's big annual IT conference Cisco Live involves inspirational keynotes, training sessions, and interactive product demos to engage customers and partners with the Cisco brand. They even have a World of Solutions center that resembles a tech theme park.
- Interactive product demos - At their World of Solutions exhibit hall, Cisco essentially recreates their technologies in engaging hands-on displays and simulations. Attendees can interact with new networking gear and see infrastructure in action. This educational approach helps customers learn.
- Inspiring keynotes - Cisco brings in high-profile speakers like celebrities and CEOs to give inspiring keynotes on innovation and leadership. This helps associates their brand with being visionary.
- Customized training - Breakout sessions allow customers to learn how to optimize Cisco products for their specific company's needs. The hands-on, tailored training has practical value.
How to build an experiential marketing strategy
Building an effective experiential marketing strategy involves many steps, and it has to be focused on creating an immersive and memorable experience that connects with your target audience on a deeper level. After all, that’s what experiential marketing is all about.
Admittedly, there’s a lot that goes into any given marketing strategy, and experiential marketing is no different. So, we can only really give a general overview of the process you must follow to build a successful experiential marketing strategy. The rest is up to you to bulk out with your idea and fine-tune it to your company’s goals, budget, team size, and so on.
With that in mind, here is a step-by-step approach to an experiential marketing strategy.
Define your goals
Like with any marketing strategy, you must start out by clearly outlining your objectives. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive sales, improve customer loyalty, or launch a new product? Your goals are going to guide the entire strategy.
Know your audience
Again, this is the same for any marketing strategy. But with an experiential marketing strategy, you need to be tailoring the experience to resonate with them emotionally. So, you really need to understand their preferences, interests, behaviors, pain points, and so on.
Craft a compelling concept
Next, you need to develop a creative and innovative concept that aligns with your brand’s identity and resonates with your audience.
Choose the correct channels
Choosing the correct channel is then the next step. This means figuring out where your experiential marketing campaign is going to take place. Is it going to be at a physical location like a pop-up shop, trade show, or other event? Or, is it going to be online, perhaps on social media or hosted on your website, or a combination of different platforms?
Design the experience
When it comes to designing the experience, it needs to be immersive and engaging to multiple senses (last time we say it, promise!). So, consider things like storytelling, interactive elements, visuals, sounds, scents, and even taste if applicable!
These things will go a long way to making the experience leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Integrate your brand values
You wanna make sure that, above all, your marketing strategy doesn’t stray from your brand values. In order to make your entire brand identity cohesive, ensure that the experience aligns with your brand’s core values and messaging. Your experience isn’t separate from your brand, it should reflect what your brand stands for.
Using technology, like augmented reality or virtual reality gives you the opportunity to take the experience to that next level and create a sense of novelty for your audience.
Generate buzz (market, market, market!)
Now, the experience can’t be a hit if no one hears of it. So, ensure that leading up to the event, you’re building anticipation for the experience.
Create shareable moments
User-generated content is your friend. Design moments within the experience that are worthy of your audience sharing across their social media platforms. Encourage your audience to share their pictures and videos on social media to help create that buzz for you.
Measure the success/collect feedback
After the event, gather feedback from attendees to understand what worked well and what could be improved for future events. This can be incredibly valuable for refining your strategy further, especially if you have the same event happening at a different date and location.
Don’t forget to define your KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure the success of your strategy. These could include metrics such as:
- Foot traffic
- Social media engagement
- Website traffic
- Sales conversions
- Customer feedback
Iterate and improve
And finally, remind yourself that experiential marketing is an evolving process. Analyze your results, learn from your experiences, and use the insights to refine and improve your future strategies.
You likely won’t get it 100% right the first time, but that’s the whole fun of it!
To wrap up…
Remember that experiential marketing is about creating those memorable moments that forge emotional connections between your brand and your audience. This strategy should, first and foremost, be customer-centric, and focused on delivering value to your customers in a unique and impactful way.
This is your opportunity to experiment and have fun with thinking outside the box, and bringing a whole new level to your marketing campaigns that’ll rake in sales and leave your audience coming back for more.