Along with expanding their social media presence and engaging in content marketing strategies, an increasing number of brands are trying their hand at experiential marketing. Although the term “experiential marketing” is relatively new, the practice is a time-tested method of advertising.

What is experiential marketing, and why is it time for your company to take the plunge and start investing in it? Here are our thoughts.

What is experiential marketing?

At Factory360, we define experiential marketing as a brand marketing principle that focuses on helping consumers experience a brand. When you give individuals a positive experience with your brand, they form a positive emotional association and are more likely to buy your product.

Companies have been executing experiential marketing for a long time, even if they didn’t call it that. Any time a company hands out samples of food or lets people try their beauty products, that’s a very simple form of experiential marketing.

What makes modern experiential marketing different is that practitioners have taken it to amazing new heights. Instead of just handing out samples, companies may hire a celebrity chef to demonstrate how to cook with the brand’s foods at home, then have models hand out samples. Instead of just letting people apply some hand cream, consumers can slather on hand cream in a comfy lounge filled with educational videos and promotional giveaways.

Experiential marketing campaigns don’t have to be lavish or expensive (really. We promise). All they need to be is creative, memorable, engaging and genuine. The same concepts brands work with all the time anyway.

Experiential marketing has really taken off as of late. According to a 2013 study of experiential marketing by The Event Marketing Institute and Mosaic, 72 percent of Fortune 1000 companies have substantially increased their experiential marketing budgets. Why? Seventy-nine percent say they’re generating sales leads from live events, with the majority seeing a return on investment of at least 3-to-1 (and 14 percent saying their return on investment is at least 5-to-1).

Experiential marketing has also been called event marketing, engagement marketing, on-ground marketing, live marketing and participation marketing. Whatever you call it, here’s why you should get involved with it.

It enhances other marketing strategies, especially social media

The great thing about social media is that it can quickly spread your message far and wide. The bad thing about social media is that everything takes place on a smartphone, tablet or computer. Even though marketers talk about social media as an engagement tool, there’s typically no face-to-face interaction with it.

Experiential marketing is all about things you can touch, see, smell, hear and feel. It’s about human interaction, person-to-person sales, making people associate a positive emotion with a brand. It’s all about the core of what we do as marketers.

Now, combine the personal touch that comes with experiential marketing with the reach of social media. It’s a definite recipe for success. By giving people a reason to post a positive message about your brand to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat/etc., you greatly expand your reach.

It makes you stand out

Your competition is employing every strategy possible to make their products and services stand out from the crowd. If you’re going to stay ahead of them, you need to do the same thing – only better.

This blog post on ClickZ hits this point on the head: “In order to stand out and earn a coveted place in the consumer’s hearts and minds, brands and agencies need to create viral and lasting impressions through connected, impactful experiential marketing activations.”

A newspaper or magazine ad is not going to go viral. A publicity stunt is not lasting. Handing out fliers requires no personal connection with consumers. Even pushing your products on social media is not going to make much of an impact.

ClickZ states – and we agree – that experiential marketing is the way to hit on all these points. A creative, interesting and meaningful event is much more likely to get enough hits on social media to go viral. The impressions people make at festivals and fairs will stay on their mind as long as they keep thinking about the concert they heard, movie they saw or ride that made them hurl all over their neighbor. Experiences allow people to feel connected to others and to brands. All these things are likely to make an impact on individuals long after they put down the morning paper or turn off the TV.

It’s a great way to target millennials

Everyone is trying to figure out how to woo millennials these days. As we described in a blog post earlier this year, experiential marketing is a great way to do it.

Millennials are much more focused on experiences than stuff. Most aren’t making a ton of money yet (although their collective buying power is close to $1.3 trillion). They grew up in an age where people coveted money and material goods to the point where they neglected the people in their lives, and they don’t want to do the same thing. They’re aware that buying stuff is tough on the environment. They experience “fear of missing out” – being left behind while their friends are out doing something totally awesome. There are exceptions, of course, but many millennials are very focused on making memories and being part of a peer group.

If you want to reach millennials, giving them a fun, meaningful experience to share with friends (and perhaps make new ones) is priceless. And since millennials are so active on social media, they’ll do a great job of spreading your message through those channels.

Done correctly, it can be very effective

Still not convinced that experiential marketing is right for your company? Check out these statistics from the same Event Marketing Institute/Mosaic study referenced above:

  • 93 percent of people say live events are more effective than television at reaching them and making a lasting impression.
  • 89 percent say events give them a better understanding of a brand’s product or service than nearly every other common marketing medium, including television and radio.
  • 96 percent of consumers say they are more likely to buy a company’s product (or take advantage of their services) after a live event. 84 percent say they end up buying from that company more than once.

People are experimenting with experiential marketing because it works. Not only is it a tried-and-true method of meeting your goals, modern technology and mindsets make it more effective than ever before.

No sure how to get started with experiential marketing? That’s where a company like Factory 360 comes in. We can help you plan and execute your event from start to finish. Our package of services always includes sharing analytics so you can see the success of your campaign.

We also have specialty areas like affluent marketing, guerilla marketing and a model network. No matter what you need in the realm of experiential marketing, Factory 360 can deliver. Please contact us today.

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