Is Experiential Marketing Effective?

Traditional marketing is dead. Long gone are the days when you could just put an ad in the Yellow Pages and customers would flock to your business. Customers are bored with traditional commercials, now utilize ad blockers on their web browsers, and pay more money for ad-free streaming services. What’s an organization to do? Enter experiential marketing, one of the most modern ways to connect directly to your customer. Is this right for you?

Why Experiential Marketing Is Right for You

How Is This Marketing Different?

In the last decade, customers are seeking experiences more than ever before. Traditional marketing forces customers to be passive audience members of an organization’s messaging. Customers no longer want to be bystanders. Experiential marketing directly includes customers in the experience, allowing them to be part of the process. Effective marketing of this type also engages all 5 senses.

This new way of marketing directly engages organizations with their customers and encourages participation in a brand “experience”. It focuses on creating authentic and memorable connections with customers, which drives emotional relationships with brands. This type of marketing has multiple names. It’s also known as:

  • XM marketing
  • On-the-ground marketing
  • Engagement marketing
  • Live marketing
  • Participation marketing

What This Type of Marketing Is

This form of modern marketing can occur in person or virtually. The following are examples of events that can be fashioned to take advantage of experiential marketing:

  • Test drives
  • Kiosks
  • Games
  • Photo ops
  • Livestream events
  • Virtual parties
  • Festivals
  • Contests
  • Workshops and classes
  • Pop-up events
  • Product showcases
  • Demos
  • Samplings
  • Retail installations
  • Retreats

What This Type of Marketing Is Not

Some businesses confuse this type of marketing with others. For instance, this is not the same thing as “experience marketing” or “event marketing”. Experiential marketing is a philosophy on how to change consumer behavior and does not include one-off events. For instance, trade shows, conferences, meetings, and the like are not included in the definition of this.

In addition, it’s important to understand that this type of marketing does not just benefit the marketing department. It’s directly connected to the core of the company and its mission and values. It impacts the entire organization and is focused on increasing lifetime customer value. Finally, this is not an overnight solution. Amazing experiences require excellent strategy, forethought, and the right people to create them.

Why This Marketing Is So Effective

Human beings are emotional. Experiential marketing bridges brands with customers on an emotional level. This forges trust between customers and organizations, creating more engaged and loyal customers. By involving customers along the way, they feel more connected. They feel less sold to, which changes the way they see an organization’s brand.

In addition, this type of marketing uses non-traditional advertising strategies. Innovative techniques combined with modern technology create memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences that can’t be easily matched by competitors. Using customer-focused approaches creates lifetime value. Customers are looking for happiness in today’s world and companies that can bring that to them will win.

Benefits of This Type of Marketing

According to a recent study, CMOs are devoting 21-50 percent of their budget to these types of marketing campaigns over the next few years because they’ve been proven to work. There are many benefits to this type of marketing. Here are just a few:

  • Brand awareness
  • Brand loyalty
  • Personal engagement
  • Positive experiences
  • Social networking
  • Lead generation

Brand Awareness

One of the easiest and fastest ways to promote your brand is to create an experience that goes viral. With so many customers on social media today, positive experiences are shared quickly on social platforms. When these go viral, a brand can put itself on the map through millions of hits overnight. Brands that have been around for a decade have launched to the top of their industries through this type of success.

Brand Loyalty

Customers no longer want to know just what your product does or what your service provides. They want to know the why behind it, and more importantly, they want to feel deeply and positively about it. This is critical when customers have to choose between your brand and your competitor’s. If your brand can make a strong, emotional connection with your customer, why wouldn’t they choose your brand over others?

Personal Engagement

In a recent study, 84% of customers stated they’d choose a business that treated like a person instead of a number. Customers are craving personal engagement. Providing personal, human experiences enriches their touchpoint with your brand, creating lasting and memorable memories. What better way to create a loyal customer who’ll choose you over the competition?

Positive Experiences

If you can create positive touchpoints with your customers, they’ll associate that positive feeling with your brand. The more positive experiences you create for your customers, the more they’ll associate those positive feelings with your brand. Creating a compelling and cohesive positive story is the key to winning their business for life.

Social Networking

When people experience something emotional and positive, they love to share that experience with others. With social media dominating consumer attention, word of mouth has never been easier. Customers love capturing photos and videos of their experiences and sharing them on their social networks. Resharing those experiences is easier than ever, positioning your brand to become viral and recognizable with the right set of circumstances.

Lead Generation

Any immersive experience that requires customer data before participating is one of the quickest ways to create leads. And if you win a customer’s loyalty through a single experience, you have done the heavy lifting to gain a strong lead. Imagine being able to do that on a larger scale by reaching tens of thousands of customers through a single virtual event? You’ll be able to generate enough leads for the year!

What to Avoid With This Type of Marketing

This type of marketing can backfire if not approached correctly. Organizations may jump headfirst without realizing all the nuances. This type of marketing is very attractive, trendy, and provides high-value benefits. Without the proper expertise and planning, however, it can have unintended consequences. For instance, imagine being a customer promised an amazing experience and then finding out that it’s an immersive sales pitch.

Customers no longer want to be sold to. They dislike sales pitches. If your marketing experience is sales forward, you’ll lose potential customers, and possibly for life. And, they have the power to share that negative experience with their communities, which can be detrimental to your brand. The best approach is to stick to your values and mission statement vs. trying to push too much of your product and services onto customers.

How to Get Started

To get started with this type of marketing, you’ll need to plan properly and understand the nuances. You want the experiences you create for customers to be authentic and tied closely to your brand values. The steps for getting started on your own marketing journey include:

  1. Understand your customers
  2. Aim for long-term value
  3. Put brand awareness first
  4. Create uniqueness
  5. Engage all senses
  6. Find your audience
  7. Interact with customers
  8. Promote audience participation
  9. Allow customers to customize
  10. Collect and analyze data
  11. Quantify the value provided
  12. Improve for next time

One of the biggest challenges of any type of marketing is proving the return on investment (ROI). Experiential marketing directly competes with digital and content marketing, making the proof difficult to tie back directly. To properly measure the results, you might need to invest in special marketing software. You may also need to create and track metrics all along the way.

Proven Case Studies

Not convinced yet? Here are some real-life case studies:


One effective example of this type of marketing is the case of IKEA. They once gave 100 customers the chance to sleep over at their warehouse. This was in response to a customer’s comment asking to do exactly that. If a single customer could directly influence 100 people, imagine how far-reaching that positive experience was for IKEA.


During the 2014 SXSW festival, Oreo, Twitter, and 3D printing combined to create one-of-a-kind Oreo cookies on demand. Attendees could receive a uniquely flavored cookie based on flavors trending on Twitter at that moment. This captured the attention of many SXSW attendees, creating a hyper-event that tantalized multiple senses.

Anheuser Busch

Another example is Anheuser Busch. During another year’s SXSW event, they fashioned a beer garage for their customers. In it, they included a completely immersive 4D experience. Using VR headsets, customers were given a full virtual tour of the Anheuser Busch St. Louis brewery. Cold air was blown on them when they entered refrigerated areas. Containers with hops were positioned under their noses to give them a real-life scent of the brewery.

Are you ready for the next level of advanced marketing? Contact King Sixteen today to discuss how we can uplevel your marketing practices to modern strategies. We provide comprehensive services and assist with corporate event planning, product launches, talent booking, event design, and fantastic experiences. We’ve worked with the largest brands in the world and want to establish lasting relationships with our partners to create rewarding marketing events. Let’s build something amazing together!