What Is Experiential Marketing?

The job of a marketer is to solve the complex puzzle of the consumer’s mind in order to establish a connection and to do it better than the competition. To do that, we have to have a keen eye for trends that give insight into what consumers want that we can give them, and what they want is an experience.

From word-of-mouth and print ads to digital advertising throughout the course of marketing development, consumers are now making a shift in interest going in the direction of face-to-face interactions. This is where experiential marketing comes in to play.

Experiential marketing defined

Experiential marketing, also known as “engagement marketing” or “participatory marketing”, is a marketing tactic that veers from traditional advertising by immersing consumers with the product and brand in a real-world situation.

It gives consumers an opportunity to engage and interact with the brand and products in new ways.

This strategy effectively encourages user-generated content (UGC), builds trust and loyalty, drives brand awareness, and works to promote products and services in an authentic and creative way.

Experiential marketing utilizes the wide-spread power of UGC social media as it aims to awe the audience and show them something amazing, something that they want to show other people -- and something that they will remember because they were a part of it.

How experiential marketing helps brands make a true connection

Experiential marketing campaigns move promotional activities beyond the feeling of being sold to, to mutually experiencing a feel-good moment. Once your brand is associated with a positive memory, consumers are more likely to become loyal to you and spread the word to other people in their network; they become your brand ambassadors.

Orangina’s #shakethedispenser campaign solved a common pain point of their target market in a creative and interactive way to get the point across. Once the consumer is in an emotional state of frustration, Orangina gives them a fun way out of it by shaking the machine where they finally receive their drink and have a feel-good experience associated with the brand.

Who wouldn’t want to tell their friends about that interesting experience that they went through that day?

That’s why experiential marketing works. It builds an emotional connection through engagement, which is not always an easy task for a marketer in a highly digital and screen-heavy space. Here are a few tips on designing an effective experiential marketing experience.

Designing an effective experiential marketing strategy

Create a consumer-centric experience

A big part of creating an experience for someone else is making sure that you are in their mindset. You want to find out what would best reach your target audience if you want this event to establish a positive, lasting memory.

A couple tactics you can use to do research on your target audience are social listening, demographic research and psychographic research. Start off online and listen to the things people are talking about in regards to your brand, your industry, and trends that your audience finds interesting. Once you have some ideas of what they are talking about right now, look into who they are demographically— age, gender, income, location — then dig in deeper with psychographic research on what they value and what they like to do.

This should give you a good idea of how to direct your experiential marketing campaigns in a consumer-centric way.

Maximize online engagement

Experiential marketing is so effective because of the way and speed at which it spreads buzz around your brand. Find ways to maximize online engagement around your event — create a hashtag, run a promotion leading up to the event — anything you can think of that would incentivize your target audience to tell their friends about it — and then blast the message across all their socials.

Tell your story in an authentic way

What is your brand story? Consumers want to know what it is that makes you different, what makes you better than your competitors — and an in-person experience is a perfect way to show and tell them.

This doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down and having a conversation about it but creating the personality and feel of your brand throughout the event’s environment.

Refinery29 compiled all of their resources and connections to create a physical representation of their brand and effectively told their story without needing to speak a word.

Give them branded giveaway items

While a good memory of your brand is a big leap towards building that brand loyalty, you want the experience to continue into your consumers’ everyday lives. Create a giveaway item that they would use on the reg that would spark the memory and prompt conversations about your brand.

Experiential marketing takes a significant amount of time and planning, so you want to make sure the experience lasts as long as possible to keep seeing it’s return on investment (ROI) to your brand.

Experiential marketing is a growth strategy that brands all over are catching onto. Reach out to see how you can make your next campaign go off without a hitch.