If you read through the case studies on any experiential marketing agency’s website, you’re likely to find plenty of examples of large companies using event marketing to their advantage. But experiential marketing benefits small- and medium-sized companies just as much as those with multi-million dollar marketing budgets.

Here are three examples of small and medium-sized businesses that have pulled off great experiential marketing activations. We also share a few tips for small businesses considering experiential marketing for the first time.

VEEV encourages you to cheat (on vodka)

VEEV Spirits was founded in 2007 by two brothers who believed they’d found a better way to drink. Their product was a grain liquor infused with Acai berries, a so-called superfood (and therefore, a super trendy product). VEEV tasted great and was smooth going down, which made it a great alternative to vodka for cocktails and mixed drinks.

To convince other people to buy their products, VEEV Spirits launched a highly successful “Cheat on Vodka” campaign. It kicked off at the popular annual Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans. People could try VEEV by tweeting #CheatonVodka to a vending machine full of tiny sample bottles. A bartender poured cocktails, there was live music, and company representatives handed out t-shirts and underwear with the #CheatonVodka hashtag.

Over the next year the company hosted over 2,000 tasting events. Their website displayed pictures of people cheating on vodka and posting pictures with a hashtag to social media sites; a map with places to cheat on vodka (really a list of places where the spirits were sold); and amusing videos.

VEEV is now one of the best-selling independent spirit brands in the United States. ViteFrute, a line of ready to drink bottled cocktails, is gaining ground. Is experiential marketing the reason? Probably not the only one, but it seems likely that it was a big part of their success.

Miss Me organizes event that sparkles

Miss Me sells high-end women’s jeans in boutiques and department stores all over the country. They wanted to kick off their 2015 collection with a bang. But how does a company that isn’t invited to Fashion Week or other big shows supposed to make a splash?

Experiential marketing, of course! Miss Me’s motto is “Let Yourself Shine,” and they designed a summer mobile tour with plenty of glitter and sparkle to reflect that statement. An eye-catching showroom on wheels traveled to special events in eight states (including Texas, Georgia, Kentucky and Illinois) throughout the month of August. Inside the trailer, visitors were invited to partake in activities that emphasized the company’s desire to make women look and feel great – all while introducing them to Miss Me’s products.

The first stop was a photo booth where consumers could don costumes and hold up humorous signs while having their pictures snapped. They could take printed pictures home with them and leave behind a copy for other people to view.

Participants were invited to write down the name of a person that made them feel happy, then post it on an “I Shine When…” wall. By drawing a connection between an important person in the woman’s life and Miss Me, the company planted a powerful and positive association in consumers’ minds.

At the “Help Others Shine” wall, the company encouraged visitors to drop brightly-colored balls into a clear plastic display box with a glittery background. For each ball placed in the box, the company would make a donation to a charity in the community where the mobile showroom was parked.

The fourth aspect of this experiential marketing campaign was a fashion wall where consumers could learn about the company’s current spring and summer line. They also got a sneak peek at Miss Me’s fall and winter lines – a great way to make consumers feel like they’re getting an “insider” look. By engaging women (and men) with so many emotions and senses, the company is sure to shine in consumers’ minds.

Ohio company uses popular idea to promote a not-so-popular idea

Gerlach, Lear & Associates, Inc. is a small business that provides Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) services to firms in Ohio. When they participate in employee fairs and festivals, it’s hard to attract people to their booth because employees fear being labeled as a person who needs mental health treatment.

To overcome that problem, Gerlach, Lear & Associates started making their booths into interactive attractions that everyone will want to visit. Their NASCAR booth turned out to be a huge draw. Fans of the popular sport who stepped into the booth got to identify their favorite car from a display. Attached to each car was a question about dealing with stress. If the person answered correctly, they received a key that they could use to try and unlock a prize box. If the key didn’t work, they could go back and answer another question for another shot at unlocking the box.

Thanks to this creative idea, no one was embarrassed to visit Gerlach, Lear and Associates booth. The company was able to describe their services in an environment that felt more fun than threatening.

Experiential marketing for small businesses

Are you a small business thinking about using experiential marketing for the first time? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Experiential marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. While the first two campaigns described in this post certainly took some serious investment, the last one didn’t. The most important aspect of a successful experiential marketing activation is creativity and quality execution.
  • We’re starting to see more and more large businesses partner with small business for event marketing campaigns. Is there a large company in your community that might be interested in such a partnership? That way, you can share the costs and the work of creating a big event.
  • With all the things small business owners and entrepreneurs have on their plates, we know it can be tough to keep up with social media. But social media is very important to any successful experiential marketing campaign. Plan to devote some time to building up your social media following and engagement prior to starting your campaign.

Factory 360 is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes achieve their goals. Whether you’re a large business, small business or start-up, please reach out to us. We’re happy to walk you through all our services and explain how experiential marketing can help your company move to the next level of business success. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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