The world of marketing can often be like an echo chamber. Most marketers often look at what’s working for everybody else and try to emulate that in their own efforts. Much of the advice also focuses on following the herd. This often results in marketers not paying attention to many of the other methods that are also available to them.
Ask any marketer where you should start your marketing efforts and the vast majority of them will direct you to either Facebook, Instagram, Google, or TikTok. There’s no denying the power of digital marketing in this day and age. However, that doesn’t mean that one can’t still tap into the basic human nature that makes people want to experience new things.
That’s precisely why experiential marketing can be so powerful. It sparks curiosity while also enabling brands to reach their desired audiences more effectively. A well-rounded experiential marketing strategy would tie the brand’s digital marketing efforts into those experiences as well, effectively creating a path for the audience to follow from the real world to the digital realm.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing can simply be defined as a way of reaching the desired audience in the real world. The idea is to capture their attention by utilizing real-life experiences to increase brand awareness with the ultimate goal of generating more sales.
Live events and conferences are some of the simplest examples of experiential marketing. Through such events, brands can offer a curated experience to their potential customers, enabling them to introduce their products and services in the perfect manner. Demo days and trade shows are also forms of experiential marketing.
What are the benefits of Experiential Marketing?
Brands can also opt to take a hybrid approach by combining their in-person experiences with virtual events. This allows them to expand their reach to those who may not be able to attend the events personally, yet they can still take part in the proceedings.
There’s an element of authenticity attached to experiential marketing efforts as well, particularly for brands that are just starting out. A lot of people would be apprehensive of trusting a brand that exists entirely online and they’ve never heard of it before. By enabling customers to interact with them in real life, brands can appear authentic and well-established, thereby inspiring confidence in customers to open their wallets.
Does Experiential Marketing even work?
It most certainly does and there have been several studies that attest to the power of experiential marketing. Through an experiential marketing campaign, you’re essentially enabling the audience to gain an understanding of how their lives will be improved if they use your product or service instead of directly promoting those products.
Studies have shown that experiential marketing can play a vital role in influencing customer behavior, helping evoke a feeling of satisfaction in addition to creating a loyal customer base.
How to create an experiential marketing strategy
Know what your target audience is
This may sound elementary but the basis of a great experiential marketing strategy is an acute understanding of your target audience. Since the idea is to create memorable and fun experiences that enable them to get a sense of your products and services, it’s important to have a sense of the audience’s capability to interact with those experiences.
For example, a very hi-tech product experience may not be entirely suited to an audience that primarily consists of senior citizens. However, if the target audience consists of a younger demographic, advanced technologies such as virtual and mixed reality can be utilized to deliver the experience.
Know what your goals are
All marketing campaigns strive to achieve a goal and that’s no different with experiential marketing. Before executing the campaign, there should be absolute clarity on the goal that’s to be achieved.
Whether it’s entering into a new market, generating more leads for an online business, promoting the launch of a new product or showcasing changes to existing products, prepare the campaign in line with those goals to generate maximum impact.
Prioritize audience engagement
Experiential marketing is all about enabling customers to get a sense of your products in the real world. They should be able to go hands-on with whatever it is that you’re promoting. Fun experiences should be built around those products with the aim of getting the target audience to engage with those experiences.
Brainstorm truly unique ideas to generate more buzz for your campaign. For example, if you’re offering an engaging experience at a trade show or pop-up, chances are that people who like it will tell others about it, enabling you to expand the audience through word of mouth.
Focus on cross-channel marketing
Your experiential marketing campaign need not be limited to its physical location. It doesn’t need to be limited to only those who are able to visit it in person. The ROI of the campaign can be increased significantly by implementing a cross-channel marketing plan.
For example, by adding a social media component to the experience or simply live streaming the activities from the site will help generate more buzz and also incentivize people who visit to interact with your brand through online mediums.
Remember to not come across as too salesy
Your experiential marketing campaign shouldn’t come across as a hard sell. That would put off a lot of people who do interact with it. This is a balance that many brands struggle to strike, thereby preventing them from getting the most out of this trendy practice. Always keep in mind that the people who visit aren’t there to get a sales pitch.
They’re there out of curiosity and it’s best to spark that curiosity further through experiences that feel natural while giving them a gentle nudge toward your product and services. Allow them to experience how their lives can be improved if they decide to become a customer. Let them come to that realization on their own without being made to feel that they’re being put through a sales funnel.
Blamah is the founder of Web Collaborative, a full-service creative agency. He is an established marketing strategist and consultant. He is also a graduate of Bucknell University and native of Chester County, PA with extensive experience in business development and brand management.
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