“Experiential Marketing” isn’t a new term or a new concept. It’s been around for decades, but it seems to be popping up more often these days. For example, this Fast Company article, “The Evolution of Absolut Vodka's Advertising Strategy,” explains how one iconic brand (that is famous for its award-winning ads) is moving away from conventional advertising and toward experiential marketing. Since the more traditional marketing channels are becoming more fragmented, it’s no surprise that brands are starting to create live, captivating experiences for their consumers.
Why are brands and agencies (including mine) delving deeper into this technique? I believe that the main reasons are because it:
Experiential marketing initiatives can be designed by B2C or B2B brands to meet a variety of business objectives. Generating awareness (or sales, or leads), recruiting new talent, engaging with customers, launching a product or company, showing appreciation to shareholders or staff, creating content for social media, and/or getting press coverage are just some of the successful outcomes physical brand experiences can produce for your organization.
- Drives an immediate consumer response
- Allows results to be more easily tracked
- Gives the brand control of the situation
- Integrates nicely with social media and PR
- Is fun!
Just like advertising, experiential marketing strategies should be tailored to your brand’s situation. Depending on your goals, budget, target market and positioning, these tactical “experiences” could include a/an: traveling roadshow, exotic tradeshow booth, out-of-home installation, publicity stunt, digital/mobile interaction, captivating direct mail piece, or even an extraordinary advertising campaign. It’s important that your company work closely with experts in this field to ensure each initiative is well planned and well executed.
Producing experiential marketing activities can definitely be exciting, but can also be daunting since the implementation phase can be arduous and complex. At our agency, we’ve created and executed numerous immersive consumer experiences. Therefore, we recognize that this promotional form of marketing requires knowledge of (or access to) a wide range of skills — from creative concepting to event staffing, to data collection, to project management, to procurement, to reporting, to fabrication and more. For our clients, the return on investment has proven to be significant, and due to the influx of work in this category (there are now Cannes Lions categories for experiential marketing), I imagine that other brands are seeing similar results.
So what goes in to creating an experiential marketing campaign? There are seven key steps to developing a strong effort:
If these seven steps are prudently followed, your brand will be on its way to creating a unique, engaging, and fruitful consumer experience.
- Planning & Creative Concepting
- Sourcing & Production
- Trial & Delivery
- Marketing & Promotion
- Execution & Implementation
- Reporting & Analytics
- Ongoing Consumer Engagement
Emily K. Howard, a marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.