As online marketing grows, catching your audience’s attention is becoming harder and harder. Whether your audience is B2B or B2C, everyone loves to experience new things and get involved. Customers feel more connected with companies that meet them on a personal level. And what could be more personal than an experiential marketing campaign?
Experiential marketing can help companies build greater relationships and improve engagement with customers, by creating immersive, real-life experiences.
In this article, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about experiential marketing and why this is important for event marketers.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing – also called engagement marketing – is a marketing tactic where companies create a real-life experience for customers, in order to promote or sell a product or service. By engaging with consumers in an in-person immersive experience, companies can increase brand awareness, educate consumers about products/services, and increase sales.
Experiential marketing has been around since the early days of advertising. In fact, some of the earliest forms of advertising were based on the idea of providing something for free to potential customers. This included things like giving away samples of food or drinks, or handing out pamphlets in public places.
It has of course evolved since then, and experiential marketing is more about building memorable customer experiences, not only offline but online too. Things like online webinars, augmented reality and virtual reality are just some examples.
Why Should Marketers Care About Experiential Marketing?
The short answer: because it can be so effective!
Humans are emotional, and so a lot of marketing is using psychological tactics to portray or emit emotion to and from audiences. For example, we always talk about finding a solution to a customer’s pain point. Pain points refer to how something makes a customer feel – it’s all about emotion. When marketers manage to build an emotional connection with customers, they become more loyal and are more likely to spread word of mouth.
By involving customers in a campaign, meeting them in person and letting them see behind the scenes, brand perception is likely to change positively. This takes us onto the benefits of experiential marketing, particularly for event marketers.
Benefits of Experiential Marketing for Event Marketers
We’ve touched on them already but here are the main benefits:
- Building lasting loyalty
If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s the importance of IRL connection. Live experiences can be a fun way to target your audience without them even knowing they’re being marketed to. For events, prospects could also feel flattered to be invited. Ensure the experience is great from start to finish and leads will turn into customers in no time.
- Creating authenticity
Authenticity is a word that’s big in marketing right now. Truthfully, it has always been important, but customer expectations are at an all time high. Consumers want to buy into businesses that care about the things they care about and seem authentic in their stance. Experiential marketing such as in-person trade shows and product demo stalls, give the customer a face and personality behind the company. So they realize that the company really is what they say they are.
- Boosting lead lists
Registrations for engagement events give companies more insight for lead generation. By receiving customer details, contact information and feedback from events, your lead list is better equipped to sell to them later down the line.
- Generating hype and awareness
Experiential marketing events can not only increase brand awareness, but generate hype around your campaign and business, among those who are and aren’t in your target audience. Make sure your campaign is well thought out to include social media, hashtags and encourage posting, to create lasting conversation and curiosity.
Types of Experiential Marketing
There are different forms of experiential marketing used by different types of businesses. Some examples are:
- Pop-up events
Pop-up stores or events are great for meeting your audience where they hang out or live. You might not have a physical store or a presence in a new market you’re moving into. Pop-ups are a great way to not only test how that new market might respond to your company long term, but also reach people where they wouldn’t expect it, making them more intrigued to get involved.
Example of a pop-up event: Magnum & Magnum Studios
This summer Magnum launched a pop-up store in London to launch their new Remix range. Inside was music, interactive games and most importantly, FREE ice cream.
With the help of online content creators and singers, they set out to find what Magnum fans prefer most, the original flavors, or the remixed range. Guests could record their own remix track in actual recording booths, among other interactive activities.Entry was free but slots had to be booked, meaning Magnum could capture leads.
- Kiosks or event stalls
In the B2B marketing world, this is a more common form of experiential marketing. At large conferences or trade shows companies pay for a kiosk or stall with the aim of catching the attention of their target audience. Rather than simply standing there with a leaflet, these can be fun too! Think outside the box about how your stall could stand out. For example, through virtual reality versions of your product or service, prize-winning games, or exciting live demos.
Example: Tinder’s Pride Slide
At Pride in New York City in 2019, Tinder put up a kiosk with a 30 foot slide. The slide represented the 30 states that didn’t have anti-discriminatory laws in place to protect the LGBTQ+ community, and for each person that rode the slide, Tinder donated $10 to the passing the Equality Act. This is a great example of building awareness in your target audience whilst also showcasing your company’s values.
- Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) mixes the real world and the metaverse to create an interactive experience. Sometimes if you don’t have a physical product to promote or aren’t able to meet people in-person, AR can be a great option.
Example of AR: Machine A’s virtual concept store
Machine-A is a concept store based in London which showcases emerging fashion designers. When London Fashion Week was canceled due to Covid, they created a virtual concept store to still show the new collections and help young designers get discovered.
Users found out about it through posters and billboards with a QR code throughout London, and the campaign helped the company spread awareness in those who had never heard of them.
Tips for Making Experiential Marketing Campaigns
Here are some tactics to think about when developing your campaigns:
- Tailor them to your customer base
Use insights and data from previous events to discover what kind of experiential marketing will resonate with and engage your audience.
Don’t have the data? Have no fear. Vendelux’s database of 30,000+ events can give you the insights you need to research past events run by competitors and other companies in your niche.
- Consider audience segmentation
Segmenting your audience and running different experiential marketing campaigns is a great way to find the blueprint of what works that you can use in future plans.
- Make an end-to-end experience
The event or campaign doesn’t start and end on the day, or weeks they’re running. Incorporate these campaigns into your event marketing strategy and make sure you include a follow up plan, encourage interaction on social media and map-out lead generation tactics.
- Get creative!
Regardless of the type of company you’re marketing, engagement campaigns are so much fun! It’s your chance to get creative with ways you can interact with your audience, across multiple touchpoints. The more thought-out the campaign, the more your customers will appreciate the effort. And the more touch points covered, the higher the chance that prospects will convert.
Experiential marketing campaigns should be on the radar of all event marketers. Instead of just planning and organizing events, it gives you the opportunity to show the personality behind your company and get to know your target audience on a deeper level.