Experiential marketing is one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal today. Why?
Quite simply, because it works. Experiential marketing delivers an interactive, live brand experience that is proven to build brand loyalty and preference. Now, I know what you’re thinking. I didn’t say it’s proven to build sales or revenue – although it does but in most cases it doesn’t do so directly. Preference is critical in influencing purchase decisions and the intrinsic value that a branded experience delivers, while it can’t always be directly measured, is invaluable.
The line might be dotted between experiential marketing and sales, but the connection is real. In fact, according to the EventTrack 2016 survey, 74% of consumers say engaging with branded event marketing experiences makes them more likely to buy the products being promoted.
There are a number of reasons why experiential marketing is highly effective. Here are my top picks.
Experiential marketing gives consumers one of the things they crave most from brands – authenticity. It creates a two-way dialogue and brings the brand to life in a unique and relevant way. Our CEO Kim Manning often talks about how today’s consumers don’t want to just buy something, but rather they want to buy in to something. Experiential marketing allows consumers to get to know the brand – its personality, its values, its points of differentiation. It shows them what a brand is all about, thus giving consumers what they need to know to “buy in.” It’s that buy in that creates a personal connection and builds brand loyalty.
2. Consumer controlled.
We like to say our experiential marketing initiatives meet people where they live, work and play. What this really means is we meet people where they are on their own terms – just how they like it. Experiential marketing – whether it takes place at an event, on the street, in an office or any number of locations – puts the power in consumers’ hands. They chose to engage and control to what degree they do so based on the brand creating an experience in the right place at the right time that is highly relevant to them. Experiential marketing isn’t a hard sell; it’s about the value of the experience. Value can mean many different things. It can be fun, entertaining, educational, inspirational, etc. It’s all relative and none are more impactful than the other. In fact, any can make your brand, product or service more meaningful largely because the consumer has opted in; they’ve chosen to engage. The key is to ensure the experience is true to the brand to ensure the engagement is authentic.
3. Fuels brand content.
Experiential marketing integrates fully with the rest of the brand’s marketing and communications particularly when it comes to content marketing. Brands have the opportunity to significantly amplify their reach – and stretch their dollars – by creating content from these experiences and sharing this content both in real-time via social media and on an ongoing basis via their websites and other branded materials. Photos and videos are the most popular branded content to be extrapolated from experiences. Sharing these experiences through things like Facebook Live and Instagram Stories increases reach beyond those who actually engage first hand and allows a brand to further shout its story.
4. Highly shareable.
Not only can a brand create its own content from its experiential efforts, but you can count on consumers creating and sharing content too. 98% of consumers create digital or social content at events and experiences and 100% of these consumers share the content (EventTrack 2016 Survey). The result is an army of brand ambassadors spreading a brand’s story through word-of-mouth and making the content “sticky.”
Experiential marketing lets you go big or small and, therefore, should be considered regardless of the size of your organization. It’s not just for big brands (although big brands certainly have big opportunities). Any brand can create an experience that enables it to connect with its audience and build brand loyalty and preference. And thanks to technology, a brand experience can even be delivered virtually. As long as the experience has value to the consumer, it will be impactful and provide ROI for the brand regardless of its scale.
If experiential marketing isn’t currently in your marketing mix, it’s something to seriously consider in the future. If it is, make sure you’re leveraging it to the fullest for content and social sharing so that it can work harder for your brand to amplify its reach and impact.