What is experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing creates interactive sensory experiences between brands and consumers. The purpose is to engage consumers as active participants in a meaningful way and generate customer awareness and loyalty, create brand connections and influence purchase decisions.
Many names are associated with experiential marketing, such as engagement, relationship, live, participation, and interactive marketing, but they all refer to creating direct brand connections.
Experiential marketing is most often associated with consumer events designed to emotionally connect brands and consumers.
Our economic environment is extremely competitive and consumers are faced with more and more choices. In the digital age the millennials demand experiential marketing and statistics show that these consumers are much more likely to have a personal brand connection if they have had a face-to-face interaction.
Brands need to create unique experiences to establish awareness, connection, and loyalty.
Experiential marketing provides measurable results and return on investment and also gives brands a great resource for generating quality market research in coordination with their promotional events.
By the numbers
Overall, event and experiential marketing budgets are growing by about 5% annually. Large companies with over $1 billion in total revenue increased their event spending by nearly 10% in 2012.Event Marketing Institute
The EventTrack 2013 Event & Experiential Marketing Industry Forecast & Best Practices Study from the Event Marketing Institute has some great findings and insights.
This in-depth report highlights how leading companies are using event and experiential marketing to grow their businesses, including:
- Industry growth rates and forecasts
- Strategies from effective event and experiential programs
- Integration with other marketing and media
- Industry ROI benchmarks
- Detailed analysis of other key benchmarks and best practices
- And more!
A total of 84% of the survey respondents say that event and experiential marketing is very important, critical or important to their organizations.
A significant 95% of consumers say events and experiences make them more inclined to purchase.
Events and experiences drive immediate sales. But more importantly 88% of event and experience participants that buy once say they then become regular customers.
After events 70% of the participants have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product or service.
To execute a successful experiential marketing plan, use a thorough step-by-step process.
Start by knowing your brand. Be extremely clear about your image and message and how you intend to connect your brand with your audience. Be sure to maintain consistency with your other marketing mediums.
Define your parameters and objectives. Identify accordingly your budget and the types of events you want produce. Along with the types of events, what are you trying to achieve? Do you want to provide product information, provide samples, give promotional incentives, complete surveys or activations? How are you including social media in your plan and are you posting content and photos from events?
What is the scope of your events? Do you simply need some roaming brand ambassadors in branded clothing, or do you need branded tents and booths, along with branded coolers and displays? Or, perhaps you also need branded vehicles or even a branded truck with outfitted for merchandising or food service?
Once you have your budget and your overall plan, it’s time to drill down to the details:
- Location identification and procurement:
Identify areas and events where you can reach your targeted demographic. Secure the locations, being sure to get all necessary permitting.
Samples/literature/give-away’s, fulfillment services
Booths, displays, accessories
Branded apparel for brand ambassadors
Devices for surveys, activations, etc.
Vehicle branding and outfitting
- Event Staffing
How many staff, and what is the image you want? Will you hire local brand ambassadors for a travelling event schedule, or will you have travelling staff on a mobile tour? What are the responsibilities of the event manager?
Organize your timelines for scheduling your events and staff, and most importantly the timely delivery of your promotional items and materials for distribution at the event.
Have your on-site production manager prepared to complete all objectives. Perform objectives; interact, excite, educate, provide samples and literature, collect data, perform activations and registrations. What market research will you conduct during the events?
Move the event materials to the next location, or return to the client for future events. Prepare event materials for delivery to next event location.
- Provide reports on event performance and conditions, report and analyze data collection and activations. Compile and and analyze market research data collected from event.
- Analyze the event execution and results. Did the return on investment meet your goals? What did the market research tell you about your brand and your event? How can you improve your events?
Now that your event(s) are complete, did you meet your objectives? What can you do to execute better experiential marketing campaigns?
Resources & Reference
Event Marketing Institute – Trends, training & tools
2014 Experiential Marketing Trends – from Creative Guerilla Marketing
8 Experiential Marketing Tips for Startups – from Tech Cocktail
Make Live Events Part of Your Marketing – from Entrepeneur Magazine
Experiential Forum – International forum and blog
Clearly, experiential marketing needs to be a part of every marketing plan, so get out there and put on great events with great results!