Successful Experiential Marketing Campaigns: What You Need to Know
So you’re thinking about an experiential marketing campaign, huh? Or maybe you’ve heard the words and thought, ‘what the blazes does that even mean?’ Either way, you’re going to want some solid tips when it comes to making sure your brand gets noticed by the right people at the right place at the right time.
Let’s start with the basics…
What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing is also known as event marketing, engagement marketing, live marketing, participation marketing and on-ground marketing. In short, there’s a lot of names for this type of marketing, but it all means the same thing – engaging with your customers on the streets, in the shopping malls, that type of thing.
It’s about those free cans of Coke the smiley Cokesters hand out on a warm summer’s day; it’s that flash-mob dancing to Wacko Jacko that made you miss your train; it’s the magic show put on by a guy dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. It’s absolutely anything that happens out in the real world that raises your company’s profile.
And while you can call it whatever suits you best, ‘experiential marketing’ offers the closest accurate description of it, since it’s about experience. And what purpose does a brand have if not to stir feelings and create experiences for customers? No purpose at all, that’s what.
Why Experiential Marketing?
Good question, we’re glad you asked. The main reason to choose experiential marketing, as we’ve said, is to raise your company’s profile and engage with potential and existing customers. Maybe you’re rebranding your fusty old business into a contemporary, cutting-edge company, or celebrating your 10th year in business.
One of the most common reasons for holding an experiential marketing event is to showcase a new product or service. Let’s say you’ve got the very best new product out there, so good your competitiors can’t even touch it. Ok, well, who’s gonna know about it? You can snap pics of it for Instagram, write a blog post, Tweet about it, even throw up a few posters declaring it to be the most wonderful product you’ll ever use this year.
That blog might get a few hits. Your Facebook post might pick up some likes. Your poster may even get seen by fifty or a hundred people. But what really matters is how many actually buy this product. Because it’s not just the reach, see, that counts – it’s making sure people engage.
Experiential marketing doesn't just force that engagement; it creates a bond between customer and company. A bond, properly cultivated, that will last a lifetime. See, a funny thing happens when we're offered something for free - we feel like we owe the giver something. We become attached to the point of loyalty.
That’s precisely the effect you’ll want to induce in your own event.
These are our top tips for getting this done…
Have a Clear, Strong CTA
Experiential marketing is all about creativity, right? We’ll get onto that in a second – but even more important than your creative event is your call to action. After all, it’s no good having 25 panda bears dancing in Covent Garden if the audience doesn’t have a clue who you are, what you’re pitching to them, or how to get their lascivious mitts on it.
No CTA = No sales.
It’s as simple as that. Photos and write-ups of your event might generate content for your social media, but that still means the event itself has been utterly wasted.
Tell your audience what to do and where to go.
Make an Impact (Obviously)
We all know that one person whose face is so interminably bland that we barely register that they have facial features. Like a face doodled in chalk by a six-year-old; sure, there’s a mouth, eyes, maybe a nose – but so what? Even after 30 years, you could still walk past them and not recognise them, and you know what? You wouldn’t even care, because they make that little impact on you.
Well, that’s just about the opposite of what you want your campaign to be like. Obviously.
It’s event marketing, so make it an event. Coca-Cola can let their giveaways be somewhat low-key, with just a few girls handing out small cans of fizzy sugar, but even they store those cans in over-sized Coke Can-style coolers. Red Bull, on the other hand, have their staff ride around in Red Bull-themed cars, and wearing Red Bull-themed backpacks.
Anything you plan needs to be designed for maximum exposure. A few balloons and a half-hearted sing-song probably won’t draw the crowds (or it’ll get remembered for all the wrong reasons). Making your event memorable means customers will forever associate those awesome experiences with your brand – which is precisely the point.
Be funny (or at least be fun)
You know what event marketing shouldn’t be? Dull. Not only will that not make an impression on passers-by (see above), but it’ll also do your brand no favours. When was the last time you bought from a company who made you depressed?
Like Donald O’ Connor once said, ‘Make ‘em laugh.’ Of course, being funny is tricky – humour being the hardest of all to accurately judge and execute. Done right, though, you’ll make a far bigger impact on your audience. After all, who doesn’t love a brand who has the capacity to amuse?
Having said that, if your brand doesn’t allow you to be funny, or if you’re not confident that you can pull out the LOLs, you can always opt for simple fun. It might not induce barrel laughs, but it’ll have the same effect as being funny.
Let’s say you offer health and safety training – not much capacity for being fun, right? Particularly since accidents are rarely amusing. So what are your options? You could host a quiz about health and safety facts. You might play a game of ‘Guess the Warning Sign.’ You may even create a steady-hand metal wire buzz game in the shape of a fella slipping over – it might not accurately represent what you do (unless you produce steady-hand metal wire buzz games), but it’s visually striking, themed around your business and it’s fun.
Bond with Your Customers
As we said, this is the real purpose of any time of event marketing is to interact with your customers (and folks who will hopefully become your customers). Never lose sight of this.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, throwing out a million zany concepts that might grab attention. Sure, during the initial stages, that’s fine. There are no bad or silly ideas then, as you bounce off each other, ironing out the kinks and figuring out the logistics. But once you’ve got the ball rolling only one thing should concern you: Your audience.
Everything you’re planning should be centred around theme, every moment scripted for their benefit. And if, at any point, you find yourself creating concepts that benefit only you and your business, stop. It’s not all about you (we know, it’s weird, since this is a promotional event). Think about your audience – what do you hope they take away from the event, how do you want to make them feel?
Because, ultimately, you need to know what sort of emotions and experiences you want them to associate with your brand. And you need to deliver.