Experiential Marketing: What is it and 7 Tips to Make It Work
Even though you’ve seen plenty examples of its execution, you may still wonder how can I do that?
Everyone loves a good story. And when that story happens to contain a captivating narrative and it’s shareable, let’s just say that’s the happy-ending. Marketers tell stories through the messages and content they put out. But while we’re great at telling those stories, we don’t create them often enough.
Experiential marketing is not new. Google it and you’ll find entire summits and programs dedicated the topic. Most marketers that use it say it yields significant results. Even though you’ve seen plenty of examples of experiential marketing execution, you may still wonder how can I do that?
Here are some basic tips to help you get rolling on your own experiential marketing initiatives.
First, What Is Experiential Marketing? According to an article in CMO magazine, experiential marketing is a
mutually beneficial interaction between customer and brand in an authentically branded engagement.
What does this mean? Well, it’s authentic in the sense that it goes beyond simply sending one-way behind scenes messages to your target audience, digitally or otherwise. Instead it requires creating a live opportunity to interact with your brand. As for the mutually beneficial nature, the consumer benefits by experiencing your brand in a tangible way and you benefit from sharing that content as well as every time they “repeat” your story.
Consider that 49% of attendees at branded events create videos while there, with a significant percentage sharing it on social media. Experiential campaigns tend to be event-centric, but more important than the type of event format, it’s the interaction that people have with your brand that is important.
What does that look like?
7 Experiential Marketing Tips
1) Take Advantage of Virtual Reality
Tools like virtual reality (VR) and 360° video are steadily on the rise. Get this. More than half of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers VR experiences — and when a video comes in a 360° format, viewers are more than 2X likely to watch it in full. The power of VR is that it provides an immersive experience in something beyond their current surroundings and it puts the viewer in control of that experience.
What are those experiences that your brand can create? Once you know the answer, turn it into a VR experience — here’s a great guide for doing so on a budget from CinematicVR — and bring it to the user.
2) Bring it to the User
One of the core tenets of inbound marketing is to avoid interrupting your audience. Instead, the best way to turn strangers into customers is to bring them to you.
Experiential marketing is no exception, which is why it’s often best executed where you know your audience is and engaging them there. Like Google did with its Impact Challenge campaign — installed large, interactive posters in places where people “had the time to make a difference” — like bus shelters, food trucks, and restaurants.
3) Transform the Space
Every year, the city of Austin, TX is taken over by an event known as SXSW: A self-described conference and collection of festivals. It’s chock full of elaborate experiences created to promote the work of the interactive, film, and music industries.
Although you most likely aren’t trying to market a hopeful box office hit, it shouldn’t stop you from thinking about transforming a space into a branded one. Think about collaborating with a local business to create a branded experience per your product or service. And don’t be afraid to think outside-of-the-box and use holidays and seasonality to your advantage.
4) Partner with Other Brands
When approaching another brand to create an experiential marketing experience, it’s probably not the best idea to just show up and take over. You need to provide some incentive and understanding as to how this partnership will benefit the proprietors.
That’s a fundamental piece of co-branding: ensure that you both stand to benefit from the partnership. Creating an experience together can accomplish that, but you’ve got to approach it strategically. When you begin to determine what the experience will look like, start thinking about what co-brands would complement and enhance the experience for participants. You should each bring different elements to the table instead of competing efforts.
The same goes for the people you want to attend the event. A co-brand that already shares the same audience as you might not accomplish much. You want to reach a population that would be interested in your brand, but are out of your circle of influence, your first level network. Both you and your co-branding partner should stand to benefit from exposure to the other’s audience.
When you work with your co-branding partner, build an experience that allows the audience to engage with both of you.
5) Teach People Something
If you’re wondering what’s stopping people from learning more about your brand, it might be that they simply don’t understand it. Maybe that’s why 58% of customer experience experts say that simplifying products and processes should be a business priority.
When creating valuable, teachable content to your audience that helps them learn more about your product or service, consider building an experience that accomplishes the same thing. Facebook did this with its IQ Live event, wherein it created simulated real-life experiences and settings that brought the numbers to life. Its IQ Mart simulated the online shopper’s conversion path when using social media for buying decisions. 93% of participants felt the experience provided them with valuable insights on how to use Facebook for business.
6) Create Something Together
70% believe that creativity is a valuable quality to have, but only 44% believe they fully embody it. Maybe it’s up to us to put our own creativity toward allowing others to express theirs. That would be quite a remarkable and memorable experience to participate in.
7) Add a Digital Element
Make your event shareable by adding a #hashtag to it. A branded hashtag that people could use to attribute tweets and other social media posts from the engagement. People love to share their event experiences online. Give them an easy, creative way to attach your name to it. If you’re on Instagram, create a new location that people can attach to their photos, leaving little doubt about who created the experience.
Proceed to Offer the Unexpected
You should now have a good baseline for starting your experiential marketing initiatives. The scale of your budget only limits your ideas but many of the best ideas don’t require a lot of money, but rather a lot of good planning.
Have some fun and give your B2B or B2C audience every reason to not only show up, but also stick around and share the experience. The only caveat is to make sure it makes sense for your business.