Experiential marketing, like event marketing, is a type of consumer marketing that has enormous potential. It creates a branded engagement between a brand and its target audience that benefits both parties. Consumers get to experience a brand first hand, and the brand benefits when consumers share their experiences.
Allowing consumers to try out your product in a positive environment makes a memorable impression.
Consumers love to share their experiences! Nearly half of attendees at branded events create videos while there. While experiential marketing efforts tend to center around events, with things like pop-up stores during major festivals like SXSW, they do not have to do so. One Australian maker of coffee machines made their experiential learning mark by debuting one of their products to correspond with morning commuter foot traffic – much of which is in pursuit of coffee anyway. Here are five defining characteristics of experiential consumer marketing about which every brand should know.
1. It Finds People Where They Happen to Be
Suppose you own a business that makes organic pet treats. Placing a pop-up store on the site of a local animal charity benefit lets people and their pets experience your product without having to go out of their way at all. By placing experiential consumer marketing in strategic places at strategic times, you avoid “interrupting” consumers and can engage them where they are.
2. Partnerships Can Create Excellent Experiential Marketing Opportunities
Think of co-brands you could team up with for an experiential marketing campaign. Maybe you sell document control systems to businesses and another company in your building sells accounting software to businesses. What if you arranged to take over a local café for part of a day to offer “advisory speed dating” to help local businesses find providers of important business services? Everyone benefits, including both brands, consumers, and the venue.
3. It May Combine Online and Offline Elements
Since experiential marketing really stretches its legs when people share their experience online, it is smart to think of ways that experiential marketing can blend the online and offline worlds. When handing out your free samples of a new product, you could hand out business cards with a QR code participants can scan with their phones to answer a survey and obtain a coupon. Similarly, encouraging participants to share their experiences by setting up a “selfie booth” can carry your message further than if you kept the event completely offline.
4. It Can Work for Small Businesses and B2B Companies
Whatever your line of business, encourage participants to share their brand experiences with their friends and contacts.
While many of the experiential branding successes you read about are carried out by larger B2C companies, smaller companies and B2B companies can succeed with experiential consumer marketing as well. When a brand experience teaches consumers something in an entertaining, engaging way, it can make a substantial positive impact. Brands in industries that are not traditionally considered “exciting” can still inspire enthusiasm with the right game, or the right interactive kiosk that allows participants to ask, “what if?”- as in, “What if I switched my insurance to a comprehensive product rather than having separate insurance policies?”
5. Setting Goals and Tracking Results Still Matters
Experiential marketing can be fun and exciting, but it still has to earn its keep. That is why it is essential that prior to an experiential marketing campaign, brands must set clear goals and determine how they are going to measure progress. If your goal for an experiential consumer marketing campaign is to “raise brand awareness,” for instance, you could measure your brand’s social media following the days of and the days immediately after the campaign.
Tracking results not only helps ensure an effective consumer marketing campaign, it also makes it easier to get executive buy-in for the next one. Top management would have trouble turning down a new experiential marketing campaign knowing the last one doubled your social media following in one week.
Experiential consumer marketing is exactly what it says. By allowing customers to experience some aspect of your products and services, you engage more directly than you ever could through legacy advertising types. Let consumers see for themselves how easy it is to make their own mocha latte or outsource their payroll and you immediately start cultivating leads as soon as you acquire them. This type of consumer marketing requires a different type of hard work than other marketing types, but people love experiential marketing and it can reach people in ways that other marketing approaches simply do not.