What is it and what is it good for?
Sometimes called “engagement marketing”, “event marketing”, “on-the-ground marketing”, and more, is a marketing strategy that directly engages with customers and invites them to interact with your brand evolution.
Experiential marketing is all based on live, one-on-one interactions.
The premise is to create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by making the interaction a fun and memorable experience. You want your brand event to stir positive and genuine emotions within people so they can associate those positive feelings with your brand.
Google brought this idea to their corporate philanthropy in a unique and very on-brand way. They were giving away $5.5 million to local Bay Area nonprofits and enlisted the public to help. Google allowed people to cast their votes online but, instead of having to use their own personal devices, large interactive posters were put around the community. Bus stops, food trucks, shelters and more all saw these digital posters. To vote, all people had to do was touch a circle.
This experience reached out to the public where they already were and when they had time to vote. That’s at the core of experiential marketing– it allows people to positively interact with a brand on their own time. That’s also probably why 72 percent of consumers view brands that provide great experiences more positively. With online voting integration and the branded hashtag #GoogleImpactChallenge, the campaign garnered 400,000 votes in under one month.
Google set up some opportunities for their brand in the subtext of this campaign. People interacting with the posters or on social media could learn about local nonprofits in the area while indirectly learning more about Google’s community involvement. It was also highly successful because the community didn’t have to interact with the brand in an “in-your-face” way.
Disney Channel also did their own version of experiential marketing. Doc McStuffins is a TV show Disney produces about a six-year-old girl who heals toys in her imaginary clinic. To promote the premiere of the second season in the UK, Disney recreated the Doc McStuffins clinic in Tesco, Smyths and Toys R Us. Parents could bring their children to experience a 10 minute immersive experience to diagnose what was wrong with the toy, Big Ted.
While they were waiting to explore the clinic, children could play with Doc McStuffins merchandise, color in coloring books featuring the main characters, and watch clips from the show. Approximately 8,000 children participated in the experience and increased merchandise sales by 5.3 percent. The popup clinics weren’t overtly selling the products, they were selling the experience. A secondary reaction to the experience was an increase in product sales.
Successful experiential marketing should deliver proof of your brand promise. Effective experiential marketing campaigns are designed to create specific and valuable interactions between brands, their products or services and the people that matter the most– the customers.
Experiential marketing is often integrated with digital content to offer a prolonged and meaningful interaction with a brand that can help promote brand affinity. The quality of the experience itself will determine the amount of engagement and brand affinity it produces.
Think of experiential marketing as a way to create brand awareness beyond what traditional advertising avenues can produce. These experiences are designed to deliver proof of a brand’s promise and the benefits your brand can bring to your customers’ lives.
how to make experiential marketing work for your brand
Set clear goals. What outcomes will guarantee you’ll do this event again? What could cause you to not want to host this event again?
Jagermeister learned the answers to those questions the hard way. The brand hosted a pool party full of music, dancing, food and more. To add a little drama to the event, the brand created fog on the dance floor by placing liquid nitrogen into the pool.
Unfortunately, no chemists were involved in this decision. When mixed with chlorine, liquid nitrogen will react and the combination will begin to displace any oxygen present. The result is asphyxiation. Party-goers found themselves unable to breathe and the thick fog covered those in distress. All-in-all, nine people were sent to the hospital and one person was put into a coma.
Not a good moment for Jagermeister, and they definitely didn’t host that event again.
Design experiential eventa for on-site and secondary audiences. While you might expect only 600 people to show up, 60,000 more people may participate through social media channels. While it’s important to ensure a positive experience for those on-site, smart brands will also consider how to get off-site audiences involved to maximize impact.
In the UK, Ikea created a Facebook fan page called “I wanna have a sleepover in Ikea”. Over 100,000 people liked the page. Then, Ikea gave 100 of them the chance to actually spend a night in the Ikea warehouse.
The winners were treated to manicures and massages and had a bedtime story read to them by a local reality TV star. Ikea also hired sleep experts to give people advice and potentially help them choose a new mattress to purchase from the warehouse.
While only 100 people were on-site, Ikea interacted with over 100,000 people through social media.
Brand experiential marketing will increase brand equity through the experience– even more so if the event involves a direct customer experience. If done well, experiential marketing can build value and long-lasting relationships between your brand and your customers.
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