It seems like only yesterday we were discussing the rapid growth of experiential marketing as a tool in the box for businesses, yet that was in 2014 - 4 years ago. Now that we’re firmly planted in 2018, how has experience-based marketing evolved? In today’s definitive guide, we hope to answer that question - giving you the up-to-date lowdown on all things pop-up, immersive and innovative when it comes to experiential and experimental marketing.
Right here, you’ll find our latest insights and tips, providing all of the necessary ingredients to cook up an explosive experiential marketing campaign this year.
So, what is experiential marketing, and why should I care?
Like every aspect in a modern business’s arsenal, marketing strategies are constantly evolving in order to keep audiences engaged and interested. With consumers now bombarded with marketing messages on a minute-by-minute basis through a vast array of channels, it’s important for businesses seeking tangible ROI to think outside of the box and provide something truly unique. It’s because of this bombardment of marketing messages that consumers are often immune to traditional forms of advertising - and that’s where experiential marketing comes in.
Consumers are no longer satisfied with standard interactions with brands, they want to feel like they’re truly part of the story that you’re selling them. An experience allows consumers to engage with brands on an entirely different level to your standard sit-down-and-watch method, providing down-to-earth interactions that fuel the fierce loyalty that marketers and businesses can only often dream of.
And the beauty of experiences? The sky is truly the limit. Whether you’re putting on exercise classes in an iconic club, building an interactive multi-room funhouse or bringing a live music tour to the masses, the lack of rules in this field is enough to excite any brand. And that’s not even considering the real-world impact these campaigns have on audiences, 98% of whom say that they feel more inclined to purchase after attending an activation.
How has the experiential landscape changed?
With more and more brands adopting experience-based marketing tactics in order to achieve their bottom-line objectives, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy at separating the wheat from the chaff - and so businesses now have to be particularly adept at coming up with new ideas and experiences. While live product demonstrations and other traditional methods are certainly still effective (for up to 80% of attendants, live demonstrations and free samples significantly help define their purchasing decision), bringing something new to the table is what will take your experiential marketing activation to the next level.
Without further ado, here’s a selection of ahead-of-the-curve tactics to help you stand out from the crowd.
1. Enlist an influencer
In an age where consumers are somewhat sceptical about offering up their loyalty to businesses, influencers can help bridge that gap. Whether it’s a famous musician popular amongst your target demographics, a social media celebrity that all of your customers follow or an industry expert well-respected by stakeholders, enlisting the support of an influential figure can cement your experience as one to remember. In our partnership with Dr. Martens, for example, we turned one of our converted shipping containers into a makeshift stage for a trio of artists popular amongst the target audience - and this resonated with consumers in attendance.
From social media promotion through to event appearances, enlisting an influencer can come in a host of shapes and sizes, so reach out and discover what they can do to supercharge your next experiential marketing event.
2. Think outside of sales
Sales play an important role in business operations and growth, but a sales-first approach to your experiential events can stifle your brand’s creativity - and, therefore, prevent you garnering the all-important interest you need amongst your customers. Of course, ultimately it’s product sales that will pay for your marketing activity, but focusing on long-term wins over short-term gains will reap the greatest rewards for your brand. Creating memories with your consumers, which is what experiential marketing often aims to do, will see them return to your online or physical store time and time again - and who doesn’t want that? In fact, EventTrack estimated that 70% of attendees become regular customers after an experiential marketing event - which just highlights the importance of creating long-lasting impressions over quick sales, particularly in B2C environments.
3. Share the love
In the world of events, social media is an undeniably valuable tool - and when it comes to experiential marketing, it can spread your brand’s message tenfold. Optimise your online marketing efforts by bringing a hashtag into the mix as soon as possible during pre-event promotion. This way, attendees are already aware of the hashtag before the day’s arrived. The real trick, though, is to amplify your message above and beyond to a far larger audience than just those attending and visiting on the day. With the right social promotion, your experiential event can reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of people online - and this is the kind of coverage you want on your side.
There’s a whole host of ways you can create a buzz, with ideas ranging from a reward system on the day for attendees that use the hashtag to live social media walls and a fun and engaging livestream. Just remember, it’s better to focus your efforts on a single platform where most of your users are hanging out than spread yourself thinly across 3 or 4. In any case, pre-planning is essential. Create a schedule for your social media activity, draft as many posts as you can prior to the event and arm yourself with the tools to deliver an impactful promotion across your channels.
4. Be creative with branding
Whether you’re hosting a series of workshops or taking an exhibition trailer on the road, your branding doesn’t have to be, nor should it be, monotonous or boring. Think hard about what it is your business represents, what products you sell and the key symbols that identify your brand. It doesn’t have to be something as out-there as Marc Jacobs’ installation at Refinery29, but it should certainly have your stamp on it as clear as day. We work with a raft of clients in creating colourful and eye-catching vinyl wraps for their event trucks and trailers - and this goes a long way to getting consumers’ attention. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries a little, after all, this can only help if it makes your event more memorable.
5. Find your connection
With the next generation of buyers spending more on experiences than ‘things’, connecting with your consumers on an emotional and experiential level is more crucial than ever. Understanding your audience is the most important aspect here: what do they truly want when they interact with your brand? Do they want to feel eco-friendly or luxurious? Or do they associate your brand with an experience already that you can leverage with an event? If you’re unable to answer, it might be time to conduct some market research before you plan your event.
Whether that’s a feedback form you give to each customer post-payment or an online study you send out to your mailing list, the aspirations of your audience should form the backbone of your next experiential event concept - and that is how you’ll wholeheartedly connect with your customers.
Experiential marketing is here to stay as one of the most effective mediums for brands seeking long-term ROI - and this means, if you haven’t already added it to your roster of marketing tools, it’s about time you do. As more businesses look towards experiences to nurture brand loyalty, it’s increasingly important for you to stand out from the crowd.
With event experts like The Events Structure by your side, you can take your experiential activations to the next level with exceptional branding, seamless operational support and a team of specialists by your side - to ensure you hit your objectives time and time again.
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