The continual challenge for all businesses is how to market their products or services effectively.
What marketing strategies yield the best ROI?
How can an idea be creative and cost-effective at the same time?
Which plans will help build a brand?
Particularly for small businesses, it’s hard to tick all the boxes. However, an experiential marketing campaign can be the answer to your prayers.
But you may not have considered experiential marketing. So here are 17 reasons (complete with real-life examples) why you should…
1. A feast for the senses
We experience life through our senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. These sensations are very powerful because we use them to interpret and understand the world. The smell of a roast dinner reminds us of Sunday lunch with the family. The squawk of a seagull reminds us of the ocean. You get the idea.
This is significant for marketers because appealing to our senses triggers an instinctive emotional response. Take British brand ‘Lush’ cosmetics for example. From the moment you step inside a Lush store, you are bombarded with different scents, colours, shapes and textures. It’s a sensory feast.
Lush do this because the subconscious messages triggered by sensory elements drive higher brand recall. So an experiential marketing campaign can make what you’re selling come alive.
2. Communicating your brand values
Sometimes, coming up with brand values isn’t the issue. Instead, letting the world know about them is. Which is where an experiential marketing campaign helps out.
Consumers leave good experiential activity with a better understanding of what a brand stands for and an enhanced opinion of its relevance to them. And no brand does this better than Heineken.
The beer brand recently ran an experiential campaign to promote their tequila-flavoured beer, Desperados. Aimed at 18-24yr old partygoers; they created a series of unique party experiences, that were designed to be so memorable that the target market would associate Desperados with the most exciting nights of their lives.
Desperados prides itself on being an “unconventional” brand, and this was reflected in the campaign, which saw three convention-twisting parties held across the globe; which encouraged people to ‘party better, party different’.
3. Cutting through the clutter
There’s a lot of marketing noise out there. An experiential marketing campaign sets you apart. Gets you noticed.
Your competition is employing every strategy possible to make their products and services stand out from the crowd. If you’re going to stay ahead of them, you need to do the same – only better and different.
In a highly crowded market where product features of different players are more or less the same, giving consumers to opportunity to experience your product can help you differentiate your brand from the rest. Customers will remember a product that’s associated with a positive experience for a long time.
4. Creating trust
Experiential marketing is not all sweetness and light. Sometimes, it’s about being the force behind a cause, or the revelation for exacting a meaningful decision on the consumer’s part.
Take for example Fashion Revolution’s 2-euro t-shirt stunt in Berlin.
German charity Fashion Revolution created a fascinating social experience that challenged people to reconsider how they shop for their clothes. A vending machine was set up in Berlin, offering passers-by t-shirts for 2 Euros (roughly £1.50), but there was a catch…they first had to watch a video about the exploited sweatshop labourers that made the cheap clothing.
The workers at such factories are often underage, and most are also underpaid and overworked. Fashion Revolution used the experiential activation to encourage people to start asking questions about their clothes – where they were made? And under what conditions?
The benefit of this kind of experiential marketing is trust. The people who had the experience with the machine, and everyone else who had the experience of watching these experiences via the YouTube video, will see the Fashion Revolution logo and trust in their cause.
5. Getting people talking
Word-of-mouth recommendations are the best form of free advertising you can get; and a memorable brand experience from an experiential marketing campaign is sure to get people talking about you – whether it’s on social media, in conversation, or on a blog.
If you impress enough people, it can create a snowball effect (particularly on social media) and result in an unofficial workforce of sales people spreading the good word about your business.
6. Increasing customer loyalty
Brands are increasingly wooing customers with exclusive deals and offers to encourage loyalty. With the threat of losing customers to a rival brand looming large, brand loyalty is the Holy Grail for marketers.
Experiences – good or bad, shape consumers’ attitude towards a brand, and can buy their loyalty or destroy it. If you make their interaction with your brand impactful and memorable; it will amount to happy experiences that will translate into customer loyalty. A good experiential marketing campaign will conjure up brand loyalty that CEOs around the world would kill for.
7. Keeping your costs down
Many experiential marketing campaigns are very cheap to pull. Coupled with a potentially high ROI, that makes them a no-brainer.
It’s possible to create a good experiential marketing campaign without breaking the bank. Provided your idea is imaginative and engaging enough, you shouldn’t need to buy expensive advertising space in magazines, on TV or on billboards, as your customers will be doing the marketing for you, by linking to your website on their blogs, or recommending you on social media for example.
This frees up precious marketing pennies, which you can then invest in some of the more costly brand building strategies, such as paid advertising.
8. Making your brand more relevant
Good experiential marketing campaigns are based on insight – they solve a problem for a customer, or appeal to an aspiration. With these campaigns, the product is not the hero – the true hero is the experience, and that is what makes it relevant to customers.
The best campaigns are those that are designed around the lives of your customers, whilst fitting the product seamlessly in. Campaigns like 7Up’s Melting Machine or Sprite’s soda shower (left) are good examples of this. In both cases, the drinks are providing some much needed respite from the heat in hot countries, during the peak of summer.
9. Making the cash register ring
Experiential events that integrate entertainment with the chance to try a product are powerful sales generators. And let’s be honest, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it: generating profit.
For example, Avon style home parties give customers the opportunity to experience the benefits of a product they can’t buy in store, while giving you the opportunity to build a rapport with potential customers.
It’s the event itself that separates experiential marketing from traditional sampling (i.e. mailing trial-size products to customers along with a discount coupon), because the fun and excitement of participating entices customers to buy.
10. Meaningful interactions
Successful marketing campaigns in today’s business world have a particular style. Brands now have to talk with customers, not at them.
A sales pitch in the garb of a marketing campaign is not fooling anyone. An insightful and well thought-out experiential campaign gets the brand and its customers to participants in something new and exciting. As they let go of the seller and buyer roles, this is no longer a marketing gimmick forced on them but a shared adventure that helps connect with consumers when they are not on their guard.
Experiential makes marketing a two-way street. It does not get more real than users vouching for a product and sharing their experience.
11. Creating viral potential
Most brands record bits and pieces of their live events and turn it into into video content, hoping to create online buzz. But the vast majority of these efforts go unnoticed. But a lucky few do. Need we say more than the Ice Bucket Challenge?
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to make something go viral, but there are a few things you can do to make your content more share worthy. You can try to elicit intense emotions like Adidas did with the help of David Beckham; find creative ways to provide information that is interesting and useful like DollarShaveClub or, you can be genuinely entertaining, as Heineken Italy were with this gem of a campaign.
12. Developing emotional connections
The best way to sell products is to establish an emotional connection between a consumer and a product. And one the best ways to create an emotional connection with someone is to let them experience it for themselves.
Experiential marketing allows consumers to interact with you in a face-to-face setting. It gives them a chance to try your product. Depending on how you focus your event, it may even give them a once-in-a-lifetime experience they’ll never forget.
When people think about your brand, you want to them to feel happy and special. You want them to remember a smell, a taste, and the feel of something beneath their fingers. These positive memories and emotions can be a great way to boost sales and create lasting customers.
13. Making your brand social
To remain relevant, brands need to find new ways to extend and enrich their experiential campaigns – be it before, during or after the event.
This is where social media comes into its own: People always want to share unique and exciting experiences – whether it’s with selfies on Snapchat, or a blog post on their website.
Give them an excuse to write about you and photograph your product. Give them a fun and exciting experience to rave about, and word will soon spread online.
14. Delivering meaningful benefits
The best experiential campaigns deliver benefits that are meaningful to consumers and that are central to, or at least aligned with what a brand stands for. It gives consumers a taste of what they can expect from a brand.
Take for instance this memorable experiential campaign by TV channel TNT (click to see the video). TNT does an excellent job in conveying what the brand stands for, (great drama) with the action packed stunt, which concluded with a banner dropping down, stating their tagline “for your daily dose of drama”.
15. Increasing product trials
Experiential campaigns seamlessly blend the product experience into a broader theme, so that it does not feel forced.
A launch campaign for Maybelline SuperStay 14 lipstick, gave women an experience of a tour of New York City right in the middle of a mall in Vashi to re-create a busy, packed lifestyle. They felt the difference a long lasting lipstick could make in the lives of these women in this 14-minute campaign.
16. Offering invaluable long-term ROI
Wouldn’t it be great it a marketing campaign could deliver a good ROI? What about a long-term ROI? Now you’re talking.
Measuring the ROI of your Search Engine Optimisation activity and Pay-Per-Click advertising is easy. You simply check out your Google Analytics and compare your website visits, ad clicks, and website rankings to last months. You’re presented with a colourful graph showing your progress, and there you have it – a clear measure of success.
With experiential marketing, things are a little different. While you can’t count the clicks, or see your website climb the Google rankings like with SEO; experiential marketing offers a different kind of ROI – a longer term ROI that is all around brand building:
Brand Sentiment: Brand sentiment is at the heart of every marketing campaign, especially those focused on building brand equity and awareness – making it the perfect measure of success in an experiential marketing campaign. It refers to the attempts by brands to build positive associations through advertising. The idea is that if you see branding enough, you’ll form a positive association.
Brand sentiment (and the art of measuring it) can be complicated, but it will provide you with in-depth data and insights into how your customers and the general public perceive your brand.
Brand loyalty: Customers are more brands loyal than ever, meaning that they will repeatedly buy your product, or utilize your service over a period of time, and are less sensitive to price changes. Experiential marketing helps build brand loyalty because it causes consumers to remember when and where they experienced a product. Using Red Bull as an example, most consumers will be more likely to buy a Red Bull product before a Monster product if they have been to a Red Bull sponsored event such as Flugtag, with all other factors being equal (such as price).
17. Generating real-time leads
Forgive us for stating the obvious, but business is about customers. More specifically, it’s about continually finding customers. And that’s harder than it sounds.
In an era of smart phones and mobile marketing saturation, an experiential event is a unique opportunity to get consumers’ undivided attention. And it’s critical to act strategically on your advantage.
Effective marketing events provide attendees with easy and appealing ways to a purchase a product or take a desired action, all in real-time.
Consider providing a mobile lead form that consumers can access via a QR code on event materials and signage, or feature a text-to-win campaign in which consumers can access a form while entering a competition.
Your brand ambassadors can have your form open on tablets to enter consumer information or facilitate purchase during an interaction. When it comes to gathering and acting on event data, the sky is the limit, but it’s best to offer consumers diverse and seamless ways to take action, as well as on-site incentives and/or activities that encourage participation.
When executed properly, an experiential marketing campaign can be a real game-changer.
Are you ready for a marketing strategy that delivers customers as well as leads? What about a high ROI and plenty of profit?
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