Just when you think you’ve gotten to grips with every new phrase or buzzword in the world of digital marketing, another comes along to make you go “uhhhhhh…?”
Today I’ll be looking at experiential marketing. A phrase I have repeatedly spell-checked more than any other. But first, some clarification is needed…
What isn’t experiential marketing?
There’s a good row in the comments section of our last article on experiential marketing, 10 very cool examples of experiential marketing where people were questioning the inclusion of this particular example from Red Bull…
It’s Felix Baumgartner’s Stratos Jump, in which the fearless daredevil passed the speed of sound and broke a 52-year-old record for the highest recorded parachute jump.
It’s incredible for many reasons, let alone the actual feat itself and it definitely set the bar stratospherically high for every other brand’s content marketing strategy.
Is this actually experiential marketing though?
Our own David Moth points out that “watching the event live on TV and being part of the overall buzz and excitement around the Stratos Jump means it can be defined as experiential marketing” after all 8m people watched the event and it hit every mainstream news outlet. It was impossible not to feel in some way a part of it.
However as a somewhat anonymous commenter pointed out:
Red Bull really, really, really, really isn’t experiential marketing. It’s content marketing. Because it created content. Which is the bit that people, as you point out, gathered round to watch. The only way that it’s experiential marketing if it was one very expensive way to sell Red Bull to Felix Baumgartner. I hope they converted him.
It’s that last point that perhaps gets to the heart of what experiential marketing really means. It’s putting an individual or group of individuals in an immersive branded experience.
Other people chimed in with their own views…
I would define experiential as anything you can physically interact with, which rules out anything that sits purely online (or on TV, or in a newspaper etc).
So that means this blog post is not a piece of experiential marketing. However if I were to go into Soho square right now to perform an interpretive dance while reading this text out loud and showering anyone who listens with brochures for our Festival of Marketing then would that be experiential marketing?
Or is that just a PR stunt? Or the quickest way to be escorted away by a community support officer?
What is experiential marketing then?
I think David Moth summed it up very succinctly… The premise of experiential marketing is to create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.
If a brand event stirs positive emotions in people then they are more likely to associate those emotions with that brand. This encourages brand loyalty and the stronger possibility of sales further down the line.
To this end experiential marketing can be more effective than any kind of display ad, a promoted Tweet or a Facebook ad, however it’s also possibly harder to measure as conversions may not happen till much further down the line.
However this all ties into one of the most valuable metrics of all: customer lifetime value (CLV). The experience of a brilliantly realised experiential marketing campaign will encourage the customer to keep coming back for more, over a long period of time.
Tips for Creating a Wining Campaign
What are the most important things to keep in mind before moving forward with an experiential marketing campaign? The following five tips to be most helpful:
1) Know Your Brand
Before anything else, it’s vital that everyone onboard has a clear idea of what your brand stands for and what your message is. If you don’t know your message inside and out, go back and clarify your message. Knowing exactly what you want to convey to consumers is essential, especially when you’re connecting with your audience through an experiential marketing event.
2) Consistency Is Key
Make sure the creative team you’ve hired has everything they need. Share with them materials from all of your traditional above-the-line campaigns including TV commercials, print ads, radio spots and billboards. Keeping the same message across all mediums is crucial. No matter what they’re seeing, reading about, listening to or experiencing when it comes to your product, the takeaway should always be consistent.
3) One Event Does Not Equal a Campaign
You’d never go to the gym once and expect a single workout to transform your body, so you need to keep the same rule in mind when it comes to experiential marketing. You’ll need to commit to a certain amount of events to give your campaign the chance to really make an impact. Determine ahead of time how many you’re comfortable with producing and what your expected outcome will be.
4) Integrate Social Media From The Start
The most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s not about the few hundred or even the few thousand people you reach at an event – it’s about the millions you have the potential to reach through social media. From pre-event to post, it’s critical to integrate social media. Not only will it give you the most bang for your buck, it will ensure the delivery of your message to a much, much wider audience.
5) Pay Attention To The Feedback
The greatest thing about experiential marketing is that you get customer reaction immediately and can adjust and refine your message in real time. You’ll know within the first few hours of your campaign what’s working and what isn’t. If the messaging isn’t clear at the first event, you can fix it immediately on-site or at least guarantee that it will be changed for the second event. Pay attention to customer feedback and adjust your event accordingly as soon as possible.