From the moment businesses began to realise that aggressive sales tactics were struggling to compete with marketing campaigns that established genuine connections with potential customers, the experiential marketing revolution was born.
There will always be a place in every marketing strategy for tried and tested tactics such as print advertising, social media marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) - but as engagement-focused campaigns become an increasingly core part of the modern marketing toolkit, the experiential factor becomes harder and harder to ignore.
78% of millennials say face-to-face interactions make them more inclined to become part of a brand - and who are we to argue with the world’s most influential demographic?
To help ambitious businesses make a bigger brand impact in 2017, we’re breaking down the basics of experiential marketing. Here, you’ll find out what it is, why it works and how you can use it to your professional advantage.
First things first: what exactly is experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing (AKA event marketing or engagement marketing) is a type of marketing strategy which revolves around the experience that’s created for audiences - often incorporating an audience interaction element. It’s this one-on-one engagement with a brand (typically in a live setting at an organised event) that makes the experiential approach so effective with consumers.
Event marketing campaigns allow the general public to get hands-on with your product in an environment you control. Powerful experiential campaigns can include anything from high-street pop-up shops to strategically located exhibition trailers, locked and loaded with built-in interactive displays. Whatever route you take, the key objectives are always to draw a crowd, engage your audience and create a lasting impression of your brand on those who attend - whether physically or online.
One of the primary goals of engagement marketing is to inspire consumer loyalty in a brand. When businesses can build genuine relationships with their customers as a result of authentic, one-on-one interactions, they stand a far greater chance of locking out their competition and securing loyal customers who’ll come back time and time again. These enduring relationships can pay dividends in the long-term, as devoted customers are far more likely to endorse your business online - and when you’re embarking on a live event, these connections can even earn you some free promotion across social media.
Your experiential marketing toolkit
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the fundamentals of event marketing, the next step is to put your experiential arsenal together. While concepts, sales copy and locations may change from one campaign to the next, there are some tools you’ll use time and time again in pursuit of brand engagement.
● Exhibition trailers: Promotional vehicles as dynamic as the exhibition trailer offer a highly functional and flexible platform for any event marketing campaign. Not only can the vehicle itself be used as a pop-up shop, portable entertainment venue or interactive burger vendor, for example, but it also doubles as a portable billboard due to its mobile nature
● Social media: An active and engaging presence across multiple social media channels is something that a huge proportion of businesses now strive for - and when it comes to maintaining relationships with attendees once your event is over, social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are invaluable. Creating a unique hashtag to accompany your experiential campaign is a great way to keep people engaged before, during and after your event - while having team members dedicated to social media activity will allow your brand to stay front-and-centre in your audience’s minds
● Brand ambassadors: Whether your staff are actively out on the street generating new leads, running social media accounts or engaging with the public on a face-to-face basis at your events, brand ambassadors are hugely important to businesses focused on customer engagement. From the way they dress and behave to the values they express, they are the medium through which customers engage with your brand. These ambassadors are on the frontline of your business, and should play a key role in any event marketing focused campaign
How do businesses benefit?
The ultimate goal of most marketing efforts is, of course, to increase sales - and while this is also true of experiential marketing campaigns, there are many secondary advantages sure to benefit your brand as well.
The first of these is brand loyalty. Ensuring that customers come back for more is the mark of any effective engagement marketing campaign. Whether it is achieved through the use of a high profile event, engaging social media activity or a combination of many complementary elements, the key is to create long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with customers or clients who are eager to pay for your products or services.
Secondly, event marketing done right creates brand recognition and popularity - increasing the size of your customer base over time and, ultimately, making your business a more profitable one. By utilising brand ambassadors who can cultivate and maintain relationships between your business and its customers, you can take control of how your brand is perceived by the public. Unique, memorable hashtags associated with your brand, along with engagement-focused social media activity, allow you to influence your reputation and your relationship with your customers.
Whether you’re new to the world of marketing through engagement or fully versed in this phenomenal platform, it’s crucial to understand the driving forces behind this multichannel approach. Get to grips with the key principles of experiential marketing and you’ll be one step closer to your own industry-leading event marketing campaign.