Experiential marketing is a relatively new digital marketing technique that has become the go-to strategy for brands who want to effectively stand out and get noticed because, well, everybody loves meaningful experiences. Unique branded experiences can be a satisfying and surprising break from routine that can also help consumers see things (an issue, brand, or product) differently. Unlike PR stunts, through an immersive experience you can both intrigue and engage your audience but also understand how your brand can add value to their lives and how it works towards your digital marketing success.
Brand intimacy refers to the measure of how close or intimate people are to brands they use. Connections people make with brands can be as emotional and as deep as those they have with other people. Some loyal customers have gone as far as to tattoo brand logos or spend a night in front of a store to buy their favorite brand’s newest product. With such fierce competition between brands in today’s saturated markets, consumers are constantly bombarded with offers from all angles. That abundance of choices puts them in a position of power, and they have become more demanding in terms of customer engagement.
Pro Motion helps you take a closer look to understand the power of experiential marketing. Let’s talk about the benefits of experiential marketing and the importance of getting started on your own experiential campaigns.
What Is Experiential Marketing and Why Is It Important?
As the experience economy emerges, marketing trends indicate that people have become to define themselves by the brands they use and their unique experiences with brands they encounter.
Imagine two brands that offer near-identical services – which one would you pick? You would select the one that made an effort to engage with you, as their customer, in a memorable and meaningful way. When it comes to experiential marketing, campaigns are designed to encourage consumers to actively engage with a brand’s core values and identity. It is more than just promoting a product – it is about providing an enticing, immersive experience that will affect your audience, and stay with them for longer than any experience in the world of flat advertising. Unlike any other business marketing initiative, experiential marketing allows brands to connect emotionally with their customers in meaningful ways and take them on a unique brand journey. And there lies the true power of experiential campaigns.
Event Marketer reports that 74% of consumers said they’re more likely to buy products after engaging in a branded event marketing experience. From a brand’s perspective, this type of experiential marketing is an opportunity to improve customer experiences, increase customer loyalty, drive awareness, catalyze word-of-mouth, target larger audiences, and eventually drive its sales and bottom line.
How Can Experiential Marketing Help Your Brand?
Drive brand awareness
As a brand, you want people to know who or what you are. Your goal is for audiences to understand what you stand for to recognize your brand mission and vision. Fortunately, experiential marketing strategies provide a way to engage a large audience in a specific way, so you can become a part of their customer stories and spread the word to their peers. It helps consumers interact with your brand on a more personal level and get intimate with it. Also, experiential marketing enables brands to go into their customers’ comfort zones and talk to them and take customer experiences to a more personalized level. Because of its ability to target audiences that have already shown interest in your brand, experiential marketing is typically more ROI-positive than influencer marketing and other forms of digital marketing. Other common goals of experiential campaigns are lead generation, encouraging word-of-mouth, social media integration and increased sales.
Create stronger and long-lasting relationships
Branded events give brands an opportunity to create long-lasting, unique relationships because customers all over the globe want more personal and interactive customer experiences. Every experiential marketing tactic is aimed at providing an audience with a one-on-one experience they are likely to remember. You will show your loyal customers how much you value them, which translates to increased loyalty, deeper relationships, and more success stories for your brand. Some customers may even become brand ambassadors.
The #WeighThis campaign by Lean Cuisine is the perfect example of experiential marketing in how brands can create an interactive and memorable experience around their marketing messaging. The brand’s message used to focus on weight loss, but moved away to focus on the idea that one’s accomplishments matter more than numbers on the weight scale.
Increased brand loyalty
Red Bull, Disney, Starbucks, Budweiser, Apple, PlayStation, Netflix, and Harley-Davidson are only some of the brands with the most loyal following. Brands that are intimate with their consumers through this marketing tactic, also develop a sense of loyalty, and loyal consumers are willing to pay premiums.
Creating brand affinity is challenging, but by providing great branded experiences, you will be able to attract potential customers as well as increase brand loyalty and enjoy repeat customers. Millennials value honesty and transparency in brands because they have learned not to trust everything at face value. Experiential marketing is a way to switch off the feeling that they are being marketed towards when you immerse the person with the brand.
Generating content ideas
Creating unique content (and doing it consistently) is what many brands find difficult. However, unique content remains the cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy. Experiential marketing events are a great source of customer stories and innovative ideas that give you insight into the form of marketing approach and type of content your potential customers want to experience. After your marketing events, you will find it easier to supplement your existing SEO tactics with each piece of content you create.
Brands can allow consumers to participate in creating content that underpins the brand narrative. Through experiential marketing, you can collect and use customer stories to enhance your brand story because loyal customers can provide their success stories as a piece of content for your team to work with and share.
If you want to earn respect and attention from social media influencers and media channels, creating memorable experiences for your customer base is the best way to do it. A well-executed experiential marketing campaign can help you attract different influential parties that would want to share your brand’s mission to a larger audience. Besides media attention, it may also land you long-lasting business partnerships.
More data for business evaluation and analysis
Big Data is becoming more and more important as the world goes more digital and interconnected. It has also become an essential part of experiential marketing because the insight can help you understand your customers, analyze customer experiences, strengthen brand advocacy, and use your findings to improve your business ideas. Developing an event app for your event can help you collect relevant information that you can use to improve the overall experience of attendees.
Since it gives customers a chance to enjoy the experience while learning about brands and products, potential customers are more willing to provide feedback or personal info as an admission to an event they want to attend. In marketing, collecting and analyzing customer data is a top priority because it shows brands how and where they should reach their target audiences. Business leaders use data to steer the direction of their brands, while product developers use it to find out which product features appeal to consumers the most.
What to Avoid When Creating an Experiential Marketing Campaign
When you find a way to implement experiential marketing solutions so that it fits your brand, you realize even more the importance of experiential marketing.
However, brands or traditional content marketers may give it a try just for the sake of it, because they know it is a trend and can lead to higher customer engagement. They jump on the wagon without proper preparation and research, ending up with a poor experience marketing campaign that damages their positive brand identity. Probably the most common pitfall is making the experience too salesy, like is often the case with PR stunts. Attendees don’t want to feel like someone is throwing a sales pitch at them. It can end up with them sharing their negative experiences on social media and their inner circles, which will hurt your brand. Focus on creating an experience that embodies your brand’s values and doesn’t push potential customers to make a purchase. Also, allow the guest to experience your brand on their own terms via a self-guided experience. Consumers don’t like to follow a predetermined, by someone else, experience.
Today, brands need to take a step further if they want to drive brand awareness and exposure. In a time when most consumers crave meaningful and personal interactions with brands, experiential marketing stands as an essential component of any modern marketing strategy. The key to experiential marketing activations is allowing consumers to emotionally connect with a brand, establishing an emotional connection that is not a marketing gimmick.
Besides introducing people to your brand and helping build meaningful relationships, this exciting form of marketing is also a way to activate new customers. According to EventMarketer, 65% of brands say experiential programs and events directly affect their sales.
Want to work directly with an accomplished experiential marketing agency with 25 years of experience? Pro Motion is an industry leader in creating engaging, effective campaigns. Give us a call at 636.449.3162.
Learn More About Experiential Marketing from PMI President Steve Randazzo in his book Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World. Click here to download 2 free chapters!