What Is Experiential Marketing?

Spotify versus Coachella. ESPN versus Madison Square Garden. Netflix versus Broadway. There’s something powerful about being a part of something live and in person instead of witnessing it through a phone or TV! There’s a unique combination of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that all add up to create a memorable experience that simply isn’t available by any other means. 

The question: how can your brand translate that into meaningful interactions with both potential and current clients?

The answer: experiential marketing!

What is experiential marketing?

In the age of mass marketing, today’s customers crave personalized communication. Experiential marketing can deliver that, but many business owners struggle to understand what it actually means and how they can successfully integrate it into their own marketing strategy. So what exactly is experiential marketing?

In short, it’s an advertising strategy that creates a brand customers can experience. While traditional strategies emphasize the benefits of a brand and target a wide audience, experiential marketing employs a variety of marketing strategies that are geared toward engaging customers with the brand in as many ways as possible. This helps brands form an emotional connection with their customers, which fosters customer loyalty and improves their customer lifetime value. 

How does experiential marketing work? 

Experiential marketing goes beyond promoting certain products to a passive audience. At its heart, this strategy is designed to encourage active engagement between customers and a brand’s identity and its core values. An immersive experience creates a lasting impression that stays with the customer far longer than a more traditional advertisement would. In fact, almost three-quarters of consumers reported that engaging with branded marketing experiences makes them more likely to buy the products or services being promoted!

For brands, especially smaller businesses, experiential marketing can be an amazing opportunity to increase customer loyalty and sales. Successful experiential marketing campaigns serve as not only an introduction to the brand, but activate new customers.  Beyond direct marketing, it can also increase brand awareness and exposure in a major way. After all, there’s no better brand ambassador than one who takes that role on willingly! Research has shown that experiential marketing is a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing and activity. 

What successful experiential marketing campaigns have in common

It’s important to note that experiential marketing is not the same as event marketing, and it’s not a publicity stunt, either. While it’s true that there’s a bit of overlap between the three, experiential marketing should be seen as more of a long-term strategy rather than a one-time event.

With experiential marketing, the goal is an authentic branded experience for customers that can happen both online and offline. To really grasp what that means, it’s essential to understand what goes into an exceptional branded experience. Ideally, it will always involve the following elements:

  • active participation and engagement from the audience
  • promotion of the brand’s message and values
  • provides long-lasting value

Successful experiential campaigns also tend to have several factors in common. The first is a set of clearly defined goals. Without a strong understanding of what you’re attempting to achieve, you can tank your campaign before it gets off the ground! Before engaging in any experiential marketing strategy, you should be able to answer these questions first: 

  • Why does this campaign need to exist in the first place? 
  • Are you looking to increase your brand exposure and awareness? 
  • Do you want to increase the amount of leads? 
  • Are you focused on moving prospects further down the sales funnel?

What you’re looking to accomplish will determine what kind of experiential marketing tactic you choose and how to employ it. Remember that authenticity always matters! The entire point of experiential marketing is to generate an authentic relationship with your customer, so whatever tactics you use should be as true to your brand identity as possible. Define what makes your brand unique, and really turn it up! Emphasize your aesthetics and highlight your core values and messages to give your target audience the chance to truly experience what your brand is all about.

Good storytelling is another component of a successful experiential marketing campaign.  Brands that have a compelling story to tell invite people to be a part of that story! The best stories tend to target customer’s problem areas with a solution, or tap into a larger story in the social consciousness. These acknowledge the challenges a customer may be facing while also showing them how life could be with your brand in their life. 

And don’t forget to follow up! Every single experiential marketing strategy out there should have a process in place to follow up with participants. It’s vital to keep that connection alive and to keep building on the momentum you’ve created. Reinforce your message through email, social media, or even direct mail so you can continue nurturing leads and prospects. This is one case where absence definitely doesn’t make the heart grow fonder! 

Take your brand to the next level with Neon Canvas

In a crowded market, the key to edging out your competition is building lasting and engaging relationships with each of your customers. Done right, experiential marketing can be one of the most effective ways to achieve that! 

Delivering a uniquely meaningful experience should be an integral part of your marketing strategy, and Neon Canvas can help make that happen. Our talented team would love to brainstorm with you on ways you can reach out and connect with your target audience in a way that makes sense for your brand. If you’re tired of traditional methods and ready to interact with your clients in new and exciting ways, get in touch today and let’s make some experiential magic!