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Although other marketing strategies, like paid ads and social media, certainly have a place in your brand’s marketing playbook, experiences should be at the core of how you sell your business.

Humans are more likely to commit information to memory when they experience a story or a memorable moment. In fact, experiences have a 70% retention rate, while raw data only has a 10% retention rate. It’s clear that experiences can connect consumers to your brand in a memorable way.

Experiential marketing blends emotion and engagement with skillful brand promotions. It’s a synergistic discipline that requires event planning skills, marketing savvy and digital marketing mastery. 

Learn more about how experiential marketing works, why it’s beneficial to your business and three best practices to help make an impression on your audiences. 

What is experiential marketing?

Experiential marketing is an authentic engagement between customers and brands that centers around an event or experience. Although event marketing is certainly a type of experiential marketing, businesses are creating digital experiences in the current global environment, too.

The goal of experiential marketing is to create memories and emotions for your attendees. This is important because it helps consumers form a positive emotional connection with your brand. That might not mean they’ll buy from you today, but the experience will cement your brand in their minds into the future. 

Experiential marketing is different from event marketing because it encourages a two-way dialogue between audiences and brands. Done well, experiential marketing is a win-win for everyone. The attendees get the benefit of a fun experience while the brand promotes itself. 

Why experiential marketing? 

Is your business standing out online? Or are competitors, advertising costs and disinterested consumers drowning you out? Experiential marketing is the antidote to disengagement, offering three distinct benefits for brands. 

  1. Experiences are memorable

Your target audiences don’t want to only see ads or promoted content. In a pay-to-play world, you need effective organic strategies that cut through the noise. Experiential marketing gives your brand a creative boost so customers actually see and remember you. 

  1. It’s emotional

You can create an emotional commercial, but it’s much easier to foster positive emotions through experience. Experiences are inherently emotional, and emotions shape audiences’ perceptions of your business. That means you can create an authentic, credible brand image in your customers’ minds with an effective branded experience. 

  1. Improve product or brand awareness

If your product or service is complex, you can benefit immensely from experiential marketing. Experiences encourage consumers to actually pay attention to your product. After all, you have everyone’s undivided attention when you’re hosting an experience with them. Since 65% of consumers say an experience helps them understand products better than a commercial, it’s clear that brands need to dedicate resources to experiential marketing. 

4 examples of good experiential marketing

Experiential marketing is far from new. Brands around the world have used it to promote themselves in a modern, effective way that turns heads. 

Barbie

Bus stops aren’t known for luxury, but Mattel’s Barbie campaign transformed a bus stop into a Barbie dream house. The pop-up included pink furniture, Barbie branding, and its “Dream Big” campaign slogan.

Pokemon

Nintendo celebrated the 25th anniversary of Pokemon not with an in-person event, but with a virtual concert. Nintendo cleverly partnered with Post Malone to create a virtual concert on Twitch that thousands attended virtually

IKEA

Furniture brand IKEA hosted a Big Sleepover for 100 lucky customers at its warehouse. In addition to allowing guests to sleep on its collection of bedroom furniture, IKEA also gave massages, manicures, and bedtime stories. 

WeightWatchers

WeightWatchers UK created a “healthy drive-thru” pop-up experience. It served free, healthy meals to anyone who came by, promoting its healthy eating options in the process.  

Phone capturing event image

Proven experiential marketing tactics that work

While many brands succeed at experiential marketing, it isn’t enough to create a fun experience. To see true results from experiential marketing, companies have to make the event relevant to their brand, product, or service. Follow these three best practices to affordably and effectively invest in experiential marketing. 

  1. Understand your audience

The best experiences are tailored to your audience’s preferences. For example, if you’re selling to 45-year-olds who prefer watching video, Facebook Live could be an effective channel. 

It’s easier to do experiential marketing when you promote yourself on a channel your audience already uses. You need to create the right kind of experience based on your customer persona. 

What do your customers find interesting? How do they want to interact with you? Do they prefer certain types of content? 

Make sure your experience fits with customers’ preferences. Feel free to be creative, but don’t forget your purpose: Experiential marketing still needs to sell your brand. 

  1. Go digital

Chances are, your business isn’t hosting in-person events for the foreseeable future. Digital-first experiential marketing is both pandemic-safe and more affordable. Take a digital approach to connect with shoppers through their computer screen. 

This means: 

  • Adding AR or VR features: Give shoppers the power to see your products in their homes. A virtual reality game is also a great way to encourage engagement: give out prizes, discounts or freebies to customers for playing. 
  • Use social media meaningfully: Have a strategy for how you’ll use social for your event. Make your event as shareable as possible with a custom hashtag, for example. Use a platform to collect user-generated content during the experience to get more mileage out of your content efforts. 
  • Filming and sharing the experience: Video platforms like TikTok, IGTV, Twitch and Facebook Live give you the power to experience an event in real-time with other users. Viewers say they retain 95% of the information they see in a video, so this is a must for experiential marketing. 
  1. Partner with other organizations

Co-branding is a clever way to get more mileage out of experiential marketing. Done well, co-branding can double your audience while reducing costs. 

Some brands partner with charitable organizations, which is a great way to do good, promote your brand and make a splash online. Charities are more than happy to share social posts, email blasts and press releases about the event, too. 

But you don’t need to partner with a charity. You can also collaborate with a complementary brand. For example, if you sell shoes, you could partner up with a sock company to co-host an experience. Zappos and Google are a great example of co-branding done well. 

Experiential marketing beyond 2021

Experiential marketing is going to become even more important for brands. In a world starved for authentic connection, experiences are a must for brands that need to solve the problem of audience disengagement.

Use experiential marketing as a chance to think outside of the box and create unique experiences for your consumers. Even brands with modest resources can create memorable experiences that sell. 

But we know that experiential marketing requires planning, logistics and strategy to succeed. Rely on the Nitrous Effect’s 30 years of corporate engagement expertise to plan your next experience. See how our fully integrated event solutions and expertise can get your experiential marketing off the ground by visiting our website and contacting us today.

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