What is Experiential Marketing?
In it’s simplest form, experiential marketing is a form of marketing which focuses on helping consumers experience a brand. Traditional advertising, such as radio, TV, and print is effective at communicating product benefits visually and verbally, but experiential marketing immerses the consumer within the product like never before.
More and more, this practice is becoming an ingrained philosophy among marketers; one that can be applied to any brand. The general idea of the over-arching strategy is to engage the customer in the marketing and sales processes, in a way that suits them.
Immersing the consumer in an experience versus talking at them through a billboard or bus ad creates a more personal connection with the brand. And it works — according to a study by EventTrack, 70% of users become regular customers after an experiential marketing event.
So you think you’re suited to give it a try? Let’s uncover more about why this strategy works.
History and Development
The history of experiential marketing has its roots in the historic events of years past. The initial events included the World’s Fair in Chicago 1893 and Paris 1900, where companies eagerly displayed their latest innovations; followed by the car shows, popularized throughout the 1920s, where rising companies like Ford and General Motors showed off their newest engines. Companies everywhere created their own immersive experiences to attract customers across the country.
The answer to the growth of this trend can be found in a 1998 book by B. Joseph Pine II and James H., The Experience Economy. It explains how an increased number of goods and services caused industries as a whole to become extremely competitive and crowded. Around the turn of the century, brands had to start providing consumers with memorable events and engagements that let a product stand apart from a cluster of competitors.
With the rise of social media in the modern age, experiential marketing has evolved into an artform and science that encourages a deep connection between consumer and brand. Today’s events still feature state-of-the-art technology and mass communication that continue to serve the same basic purpose: to leave the consumer with a lasting impression of the product.
And there’s no better way to do that than with an exciting event, wouldn’t you say?
The Basics of Launching an Experiential Marketing Event
There are many moving parts in an experiential marketing campaign, including researching, planning, executing and measuring. Many brands sometimes balk at the chance to launch an event due to many of the unforeseen details that need to be juggled throughout the process. It’s important that you understand each part of hosting an experiential marketing event. Here are the main aspects that you need to know.
The budget should always be your foremost concern for any new campaign. Understanding the size and scope of all the work involved will help you strategize more efficiently and effectively. The planning process can often be the most slow-moving, so setting expectations up front will save you time and hassle in the long run.
Creating your plan is no simple task. It’ll be beneficial to you to collect all your stakeholders in one room to talk over your goals for the event, as well as the logistics of hosting it and crisis control plan should something go awry. Decide how you can apply your budget to specific event marketing tactics that help make sales.
When you have a strategy in place, determine the roles of each member of your team and how you will put the campaign in action. The chain of command needs to be clear from the beginning so that day-to-day operations stay on track. Remember to staff your event appropriately — will you need security or a building inspector? Who will step in should someone unexpectedly become sick or otherwise unavailable?
Your promos are what will set you apart from your competitors. Decide which incentives will best communicate your UVP to the audience. Anything that will get the consumer engaged can serve as a useful incentive, such as free tickets, prizes, celebrity meet-and-greet, free products or coupons — whatever strikes the nerve of your target audience.
When deploying an experiential marketing strategy, you should try to create buzz around your event. What is it that sets your event apart from others? Whether it’s a charitable cause, free dinner or celebrity appearance, there’s always something that will convince a person to attend.
After the event is done and your campaign is over, it’s time to measure the results to see if you were successful or not. Analyze your goals that you recorded at the beginning of your venture and compare them to your gains. How many attendees, emails, media mentions and social media impressions were there? Ensure that everyone on your team is informed of the results, whether positive or negative, so that they can use that information to prepare themselves for next time. Communicate positive results to sponsors, stakeholders, clients and other partners to let them share in the success of your event.
There are plenty of tactics to make your event successful. Let’s discuss what you can do to set yourself apart at an event.
Experiential Marketing Tactics
Now that you know the basics of what goes into setting up your own experiential marketing event, you need to learn about specific tactics that will let you be successful. There are a few experiential marketing tactics that you can employ to boost your overall strategy.
Social Media Engagement
Social media is one of the most essential parts to making your experiential event successful. By allowing the brand to reach the consumer before, during and after an event, social media supplies the platform for companies to stay in constant contact with a prospect. A hashtag is a necessity when hosting or attending an exhibition, and will encourage engagement and monitor feedback. Giving people the chance to create their own content and promote your brand, such as through a hashtag, photobooth or celebrity photo op, lets your audience advertise your brand for you.
Here’s what you need to do to ensure that social media engagement is top-notch:
1. Use the Best Platform
Where does your audience live online? Each social media platform serves a specific audience, so make sure that you’re advertising on the best one for your needs.
2. Build Engaging Content
Users won’t care about your post if they don’t find it interesting. Ask questions, post polls or quizzes, or put up videos to better engage your audience.
3. Create Consistent Messaging
Your messaging is directly related to your event goals. When you have a consistent message, you’re building a voice around the event that encourages people to attend. Make sure your exhibit aligns with what you’re saying in advertisements, social posts, brochures, etc.
4. Encourage Sharing
When building a social following around an event or hashtag, you need to encourage sharing so that you reach new networks. Have a photo area set up featuring your logo and encourage people to share it on their walls so they can bring their friends into the action.
Bring Your Brand Ambassadors
Brand ambassadors bring something unique to your event. They serve as the liaison between consumer and brand, allowing a meaningful conversation to transpire. When guests decide to attend an event, they want to find out how brands will affect their lives for the better. Brand ambassadors can provide the experience that will serve their unique needs, while giving salespeople a better opportunity to close the deal.
Here’s a few tips on choosing the best brand ambassadors:
1. Identify Your Goals
Whether you’re trying to develop brand awareness or increase the amount of leads, the goals of your event will determine who you end up choosing as your brand ambassador.
2. Understand Event Requirements
What do you need your brand ambassadors to do? Will they be conducting product demonstrations, talking to attendees about a specific UVP, or posting on social media? Choose those with experience that best matches your event requirements.
3. Getting Help to Find the Right People
From tech experts to sales people and influencers, there are a number of different people you can employ as brand ambassador. If you don’t think you have the bandwidth to find the best person, you can reach out to staffing agencies or influencer platforms that have databases where you can reach out to the right people.
4. Offer Incentives
With an incentive, people will be much more likely to become ambassadors. You can offer free products or services, or even payment, to show that you’re serious about working with them.
With new social media platforms and features growing in popularity, such as Facebook Live, Snapchat and Periscope, people can be engaged in any event whether they’re physically there or not (and with minimal cost to you). Throughout the event, you can keep your audience updated by using live video feeds. This will let your network stay connected with your brand and reaches them well beyond the event footprint.
There are a number of ways to engage your audience with live social streaming:
1. Perform Live Product Demos
Live product demos are a boon to any event marketing strategy. Live streaming gives you the perfect platform to showcase your products in use.
2. Host Live Q&A Sessions
People have questions, and social media provides a great venue for any person to inquire about a brand’s offerings. Hosting live Q&A sessions will make people more comfortable with your product overall.
3. Go Behind-the-Scenes
People love to experience behind-the-scenes of any event. Show what it’s like to set-up, teardown and interact with the team that’s behind the booth.
4. Repurpose Live Video Content
Live video will give you plenty of ideas for repurposing content. Take a live Q&A session, for example, and repurpose it into a FAQ page on your website, or even turn it into an extended video explanation.
Creating an Immersive Experience
Once upon a time, you could get away with distributing a simple business card and phone number at a marketing event. That’s not the case anymore. Today’s technology has changed the way businesses draw customers. Rather than a one-dimensional event, you need to incorporate a number of elements that grasp the consumer’s attention.
There are several ways to create an immersive experience. It’s important to understand the components that get consumers to attend your event. Here are a few to get you started:
Pre-promote your event on social media, search ads and by traditional means — whatever you think will best reach your audience: Promoted social media posts will let you target a certain demographic that you think would be interested in your event. Search ads will let you target certain keywords/queries about the event itself. Traditional advertisements will let you reach a broader audience and raise brand awareness. Whichever method you choose, you need to generate excitement, improve attendance rates and amplify your message. A pre-event campaign will set the expectation that the event is well prepped and establishes the fear of missing out
2. Registration Page
When you actually have the attention of your desired audience, give them somewhere to go to register. Whether it’s a registration page on your own website or through a third-party app, people need reassurance that the event is legitimate enough to have a registration process. It will also help you set expectations about who will be attending, so you can plan accordingly.
3. Create a Social Event
Today, people keep their social life organized through platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Create a social event so you can invite people and keep them informed about event happenings.
4. Offer a Main Attraction
The main attraction is normally what gets people in the door. Your main attraction could be a guest speaker, special performance, celebrity appearance or grand prize drawing.
5. Request Post-Event Action
Once the event is over, you should keep in touch with all prospects through follow-up requests. Continue to offer incentives, discounts or content that will appeal to your new-found connections. This will drive customer engagement after your event and encourage brand retention
Get Started on Experiential Marketing Today!
Overall, experiential marketing is a fantastic way to transform a market of consumers into brand loyalists through hands-on, unforgettable experiences. You need to stay at the forefront so your brand gets noticed — increase attendee engagement, build brand awareness and achieve all of your event goals with the trendiest form of marketing. If you’re planning on adding experiential marketing to your integral marketing mix this year, try following this guide to reach success!