Does Experiential Marketing Actually Work?

The pandemic changed a lot of lives. It also helped many companies assess their marketing campaigns, and just as many discovered they were missing the mark. People stayed home, worked remotely, and started doing the bulk of their shopping and socializing online. The nation started using online resources as much as 10 times more.

Companies that hadn’t stopped to think about experiential marketing in a digital age lost out. If consumers weren’t able to engage and conduct business online, they went elsewhere. This is where experiential marketing stands out. Instead of telling consumers the same old thing or relying on an easy-to-remember motto, brands that ensure they spread their message through experiences became the clear winners.

What Studies Show

The companies that succeeded were the ones that focused on new ways to engage. Social media marketing was one of the keys to reaching the target audience. Consumers grew tired of negativity on the news. They started looking for ways to engage in meaningful, positive ways.

One study found that around 6 out of 10 consumers wanted to connect with their favorite brands. Seven out of 10 consumers wanted to engage socially with the CEOs of the companies they support. Around 8 out of 10 people wish brands would use social media to help connect brands to their consumers and allow consumers to connect with other consumers.

It’s important to remember that consumers hate being told information rather than shown it. They want to experience your brand in new and exciting ways. Their top five preferred way to connect is through social media, TV and radio ads, emails, direct mailings, and ads on social media sites. That’s where experiential marketing comes in.

Plus, when consumers feel connected to the brand they like, more than half respond by increasing their spending. More than 75% will stick to that specific brand over a competitor. Many consumers feel one of the best ways to connect is by learning the personal stories of the brand’s workers. Finding a personal connection makes a difference.

With more people using online social media sites and the internet for everything from research to shopping, one thing became clear. Adobe reports that the companies that focused on digital approaches were the winners in 2020. They looked at providing an experience that suited all ages, not just the younger crowd.

The Different Kinds of Experiential Marketing

Experiential marketing is all about an experience. There are several ways to do this. They include:

Events/Virtual Events

Events can take place at a tradeshow, concert, sports event, or virtually in an online festival or tradeshow. Both an in-person event or a virtual event allow you to provide information, answer questions, and attract new consumers to your product or service.

Throughout the pandemic, the social beer drinking app Untappd came up with a weekly social happy hour event. Different beer CEOs would chat with consumers during this event while they all had a beer together in their homes. It helped draw attention to small breweries around the nation while also allowing companies and their consumers to socialize.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing catches attention by being shocking or bold. The interaction with the consumer isn’t expected. Instead, it surprises and delights those who happen to see it.

While guerrilla marketing can be very effective, you do have to think it through. Snapple learned this when they tried to break a Guinness World Record for the tallest popsicle. The company set it up in New York City’s Union Square, but Snapple failed to plan ahead. Warmer weather had the popsicle melting fast, and it covered the sidewalks and the nearby street in sugary fruit puree that had to be cleared away by the fire department.

Installations

Installations are advertisements that blend into their surroundings. They may be surprising, which can also tie them to guerrilla marketing or PR stunt campaigns. They stand out and generate attention for that reason.

Italy’s Casino de Venezia came up with a brilliant installation that gained a lot of attention from tourists and locals alike. They turned the baggage carousel into a giant roulette wheel. Since then, other airports have had similar installations promoting casinos added.

Mobile Tours

Mobile tours are temporary and move from city to city with planned stops in different areas. They often tie in with other experiential marketing methods, such as the pop-up or sampling.

Target came up with a way to reach out to more high-end health and beauty consumers that demonstrates the power of a mobile tour. They arranged to have a “Destination Beauty” truck travel across the nation to different Target parking lots. This truck contained stylist stations where people were treated to beauty consultations before learning they could purchase those products inside.

Pop-Ups

Pop-ups are limited-time marketing events that appear suddenly and tend to disappear at the end of the day. They’re a one-and-done marketing method that spread the word in unexpected places.

An example of a pop-up involves Birds-Eye frozen foods. The company created a pop-up restaurant where Marketing staff served consumers meals made with the frozen items. When it came time for the bill, diners could either pay up or take a photo of their from-the-freezer meals and share them on social media.

PR Stunts

PR stunts and guerrilla marketing share a lot of similarities. Public relations stunts aim to capture consumers by offering something guaranteed to get people talking.

One that stands out as highly effective was from the European beer company Carlsberg. The marketing team set up a giant poster on a street in London. Consumers who took a closer look at the poster discovered there was a tap dispensing Carlsberg beer. In just one day, the #probablythebest hashtag had been retweeted over 3 million times.

Sampling

Sampling is one of the best ways to get consumers to try your product. You’ve probably been in a grocery store or warehouse store where samples are handed out to shoppers in hopes of talking them into trying and buying the item then and there.

Consumers experience the food, cleaning product, etc. personally. If it appeals to them after tasting or trying it out, you’ve secured interest and made the sale.

Create Your Own Experiential Marketing Plan

Those are all examples of the experiential marketing ideas other companies have used. Think about the message you want to send and how to reach your target audience best. You also need to consider your budget carefully. It’s tempting to save money, but a cheap marketing plan isn’t always the most effective option. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending around 8% of your gross revenue.

Do you need help coming up with the best marketing plan for your company’s needs? Are you stuck on whether a pop-up or virtual event is more effective now? Sometimes, it’s better to hire an expert in experiential marketing. Factory 360 is experienced in all aspects of experiential marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing. We’ve helped plan and execute marketing campaigns for companies that include ESPN, Garden of Life, and PayPal. Reach out to us with your questions and ideas, and we’ll help you create the ideal marketing campaign.

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