Are you new to experiential marketing and looking for a primer? Or have your recent experiential marketing events fallen flat and you can’t figure out why?

Factory 360 has been delivering top-tier experiential marketing campaigns for over a decade. In that time we’ve developed some best practices that guide our decision-making and event design. Here are eight of the most important. What would you add to the list?

Set clear goals and outcomes

Any successful experiential marketing event should begin with a very clear description of goals and outcomes. What’s the difference? Goals are things you want to achieve at your experiential marketing event. For example, goals might include handing out 10,000 samples, having 5,000 people participate in an activity or signing 750 people up for a mailing list.

Outcomes are things that happen as a result of your event. Outcomes could be having 10,000 people use a hashtag or post a photograph from your activation, increasing website hits by 5,000 and honoring 750 coupons handed out at an event.

Make sure every goal has a qualitative or quantitative value assigned to it. You can decide whether to set goals slightly low (so you can exceed expectations) or slightly high (to help motivate your team).

Determine ways to measure those goals and outcomes

If you set goals but have no way to measure them, you’d be better off not setting them at all. Analytics are extremely important for any experiential marketing event. As soon as you have your goals and outcomes outlined, figure out how you will measure them. You might track the number of attendees by having someone at the entrance to your booth whose sole job is counting people. It’s easy to track spikes in website traffic by using landing pages and programs like Google Analytics.

You’ll want to set a time limit on most outcomes. For example, if your outcome is to increase the number of Facebook like and Twitter follows, expect that most new engagement will come within a few days of the event.

Identify and exhaustively research your target market

One of the great things about experiential marketing is that it allows you to target a very specific market or demographic group. But if you’re going to gear your event toward millennial women, or new dads, or people preparing to move into a retirement community, it’s vital to understand your audience and design an activation around their needs. Who do millennial women admire and why? How does becoming a new dad change the habits of men? What, if any, social media channels do elderly folks use? Find out everything you can about your target market and create an extensive profile of them.

Remember why experiential marketing works

Sometimes it’s a good idea to return to the very basic principles of why experiential marketing works. Here are three things that make event marketing such a powerful tool.

  • Experiential marketing evokes emotion. That’s our job as marketers, right? People make purchasing decisions based on many things, but emotion plays a big part. Experiential marketing is an outstanding way to appeal to consumers’ emotions. You can plan events that link your brand to something consumers feel passionate about, such as loved ones or causes they care about. You can make them feel a sense of patriotism or like they belong to a group. Live events are much better for appealing to people’s emotions than television spots or print ads.
  • Experiential marketing appeals to the senses. When consumers can taste, touch, smell, hear or see a product in action, they’re much more likely to buy it. For example: There are so many salsas, juices, locally-distilled spirits, and other food and beverage products out there that it’s hard to get people excited about a new offering through advertising. However, if you let people try those products and see how good they are, they’re much more likely to purchase them.
  • Experiential marketing creates a positive association between your brand and consumers. When consumers think of your business or brand, you want them to immediately pull up a positive thought or emotion. That’s another thing experiential marketing does. When your company puts on an unforgettable event or engages with consumers in a positive and rewarding way, they develop warm and fuzzy thoughts about the brand. As a result, they’re more likely to buy your products. That’s why experiential marketing events don’t necessarily have to be directly related to what your product does. For example, energy drink company Red Bull puts on lots of extreme sporting events. Motocross races don’t automatically make consumers think of energy drinks, but the events appeal to Red Bull’s audience and is a great opportunity to promote their products.

Come up with a creative, exciting and impactful activation

Your goal with an experiential marketing activation is to draw people’s attention. It’s harder to do that with a run-of-the-mill event. You need to do something creative enough that people will approach your booth. You need to do something exciting enough that people will want to take pictures of themselves at the event. And you need to do something impactful enough that people will remember it long after it’s over.

Find ways to maximize online engagement through social media and other channels

Social media should be part of any experiential marketing activation because it has such great potential to extend your reach. Posts to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites can go out to millions of people, not just the hundreds or thousands you encounter in a given day.

Keep in mind, too, that online engagement can (and should) include much more than social media. Consider adding related content to your website so people see videos, games and other materials that reinforce the message you communicated at the experiential marketing activation. If you’re a B2B company, tie the experiential marketing activation in with your content marketing plan.

Don’t just give people something – give them something of value

Anyone can hand out candy or pencils at an experiential marketing activation. If you’re going to give consumers something, make sure it’s something of value.

A piece of candy may draw people to your booth, but they’ll stop thinking about you the moment the sweet treat has dissolved in their mouth. A pen may hang around a little longer… or it might get lost in a draw with a dozen other pens with someone’s name and logo on them.

On the other hand, a cool t-shirt that’s only handed out to people who complete an activity will get worn over and over again. A limo ride and crazy-fun party will be burned permanently into people’s memories. A chance to take guitar lessons from a famous musician or have a meaningful conversation with a titan of industry will give people skills and information they carry with them permanently.

Hire a top-notch experiential marketing firm

When it comes time to put together an experiential marketing event, don’t contract it out to a firm that’s never done it before. And don’t try to put it together in-house. Trust an experienced agency like Factory 360. We love working with companies that have never tried experiential marketing and those who need to breathe new life into their event marketing activations. Contact us right now to learn how we can help your company achieve its goals and outcomes, come up with a creative activation and implement all these other best practices in partnership with you.

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