Forget about the Galaxy S6 for a minute. We want to posit that experiential marketing is the “next big thing” when it comes to selling your products and services. A study called EventTrack notes that marketers spent an average of 3.8 percent on experiential marketing in 2012 and 4.7 percent in 2013. By 2014, large companies were expected to dedicate 9.8 percent of their marketing budgets to experiential marketing.

Here are five reasons why experiential marketing is the next big thing – and something your company should begin investing in today.

We already know it works

The term “experiential marketing” may be new, but the idea is not. Brands have always engaged in things like giveaways and tours to market their products. Convenience store 7-11 has done a Free Slurpee Day for years and seen big spikes in sales every time. The Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California helps boost sales of their popular jelly beans (and many other sweets made by the Jelly Belly Candy Company) by turning their factory into a tourist attraction where parents can bring their children.

As brands see the results of other traditional marketing methods (such as TV and magazine advertising) diminish, they’re investing more in other tried and true methods. Experiential marketing is one. According to an article in Adage, a Heineken spokeswoman is quoted as saying that “sponsorship, activation and experiential play an important role in fueling the growth of the Heineken brand.” She also told the publication “experiential campaigns ensure the brand plays ‘an active part’ in consumers’ conversations.”

It’s true to the cores of marketing and customer engagement

As a marketer, you know the best way to sell products is to establish an emotional connection between a consumer and a product. And one the best ways to create an emotional connection with someone who has never tried your product is to give them an experience with it.

As its name states, experiential marketing is a great way to do that. Experiential marketing allows consumers to interact with live people in a face-to-face setting. It gives them a chance to try your product. Depending on how you focus your event, it may even give them a once-in-a-lifetime experience they’ll never forget. Experiential marketing may also remind them that your brand cares about people/animals/the environment/whatever cause you’ve adopted.

When people think about your brand, you want to them to feel happy and special. You want them to remember a smell, a taste, the feel of something beneath their fingers. These positive memories and emotions can be a great way to boost sales and create lasting customers.

It takes advantage of modern marketing technology

Experiential marketing is made for modern marketing tools, particularly social media. Sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Yelp are great for people who want to write product reviews or share information about the things you’re selling. But the true social media gold is getting good news about your company to go viral. That’s where experiential marketing comes in.

Let’s face it – an everyday post about how your software will save a busy mom time or your new diet plan will help people lose weight isn’t likely to generate millions of hits. But what if you give a group of moms an amazing night out, tie the fact that they have extra time due to your software, and ask them to post gobs of pictures on Instagram? What if you work with a real person to chronicle their weight loss and make a catchy, authentic YouTube video about it? That is much likely to go viral.

People want to post selfies to Snapchat and tweet about themselves while they’re having experiences. Give them an excuse to write and photograph your product. Give them something fun, exciting and different to do with experiential marketing.

It appeals to millennials

Millennials are the next big thing for advertisers. Their current purchasing power is around $1 billion, and it will only increase as they advance in their professional careers and earn more money.

Many millennials are skeptical of traditional advertising methods such as radio ads, door-to-door sales and corporate sponsorships. They see them as disingenuous and resent people constantly trying to “sell” things to them.

Millennials want to engage with brands, have two-way communication with them and get to know the people involved in them. That’s why they like social media, and it’s also why they like experiential marketing. The report “Connecting with Gen Y” from the Event Marketing Institute shares that ninety-four percent of Millennials are more likely to buy a product as a result of a good experience at an event.

Events also give them something entertaining and educational to attend. Millennials are all about experiences – music festivals, food and beverage tastings, off-beat sporting events, even farmers or craft markets. And when they’re at those events, they like to buy. The Connecting with Gen Y study says 68 percent of Millennials said they were likely to purchase more of a company’s products if they could buy them at the event rather than getting them later.

It’s fun

Most of your employees probably wouldn’t call sitting behind a computer screen or attending meetings fun. On the other hand, they’re bound to get pretty excited about attending a giant party or staffing a photo booth at a trade show. Experiential marketing creates enjoyable and meaningful experiences for your staff as well. And given that your employees are some of your best marketers, it pays to keep them happy.

Are you sold on the value of experiential marketing, but unsure where to start? Contact Factory360 for a free consultation. We can walk you through all the steps of putting together a kick-ass experiential marketing campaign yourself. We can also get you hooked up with our expert team of salespeople and models, who can staff your booth or other experiential marketing event for you. We look forward to help you increase your connection with customers – and have some serious fun in the process.

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