How Can Experiential Marketing Help Retail Businesses?

Experiential marketing is essential to any modern branding strategy. It provides customers with the meaningful interactions and personalized experiences they crave. In other words, it allows consumers to be a part of your brand and can cultivate loyalty and influence buying decisions. And when done correctly, EM can even help you generate additional attention both in the media and online.

How Can Experiential Marketing Help Retail Businesses?

Unlike online or traditional marketing efforts that take time to build brand awareness, experiential marketing (EM) is a uniquely fast and effective way to connect with customers through face-to-face experiences. It engages all the senses and ignites emotions to create lasting memories that, in turn, drive brand loyalty.

EM invites customers to meet brands in person rather than force them into the role of observer. Radio, newspaper, and TV ads are crafted in the hopes that a message will resonate with audience members. But EM is an interactive experience that can have a substantially more significant influence on customers. They get to know a brand, its character, and the people behind it.

Why It Works

Consumer behaviors are changing, a fact we can attribute in part to social media. People today see a meaningful and happy life as one focused on experiences they can share online.

To illustrate, a Harris Group study shows more than 70% of millennials prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material goods. And they’re happy to pay to participate in exciting, memorable events that range from parties and food festivals to concerts and fine arts shows.

Giving Customers What They Want

EM fulfills modern consumer needs by giving them opportunities to create content that can be posted to popular platforms. Sampling makeup in a retail store, for instance, provides plenty of photo opportunities. In the meantime, brands garner free advertising from the frenzy of social media sharing that ensues.

EM also helps consumers feel included, like they’re part of a brand’s extended family. Finally, it improves brand value in a way that trying to influence customers from a remote position cannot match.

A Few Statistics

EM delivers a desired human touch, and statistics confirm its power. A study from the Event Marketing Institute finds 72% of consumers see brands from a positive perspective when they provide quality event opportunities. That same study also shows 74% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand after attending marketing events.

Real-Life Retail Examples

Brands ranging in size from large to small understand live events are critical to their company’s success. Orvis, for example, is an apparel and gear company that also sells outdoor activity classes. L.L. Bean offers similar educational classes in addition to camping trips. Both witness a surge in sales immediately before and after each of their events, realizing as much as a 30% increase in profits.

The success of these two brands demonstrates EM may be even more powerful than influencer marketing. EM brings everyone – customers and influencers alike – together in one place. It eliminates the need to manage influencer giveaways and outreach. Experiential events also eschew long analytical hours needed to determine if an influencer partnership benefitted the brand.

Crafting a Vibrant Landscape for Consumers

EM can benefit more than traditional clothing retailers. A wine purveyor in New York City has created a wine-themed playground that adults can enjoy as they sip on rosé variations from across the world. Pantone, which provides a color standardization system for industries like printing and graphic design, created a pop-up cafe in Monaco. The small menu features food in Pantone’s signature colors and has proven to be a hit with all who visit.

The point is that companies can create a new buzz on social media, and similarly connect with customers, by implementing well-planned experiential marketing strategies. These occasions can bring a brand to life. And marketing managers have a whole catalog of appealing events to choose from, including:

  • Educational classes
  • Food and beverage tastings
  • Parties
  • Pop-up shops
  • Tours
  • Community Events
  • Event series, like a book club
  • Trade shows
  • Kiosks
  • In-store experiences

The Benefits of EM for Retailers

EM is a great way to drive word-of-mouth marketing. Event attendees often talk about their experiences with friends, and as mentioned earlier, they’re sure to post photos on social media. This chatter helps generate interest in your brand and the products you promoted at the event.

Offline events also provide an opportunity to receive immediate customer data and feedback. You can see first-hand how consumers interact with your services and products as well as ask real-time questions to understand how you might improve future offerings. Events additionally provide a chance to gather customer information that can be used for later marketing campaigns, such as direct email.

Build a Sense of Community

The engagement loop created by an offline event helps build a sense of customer community. We already know consumers want to feel like they’re part of a brand. A strong sense of community helps reinforce the loyalty that experiential marketing jumpstarts. Crafting an audience around your brand also keeps consumers engaged between events and unites people who share similar interests.

Stand Out

A crowded market can make it difficult for any brand to rise above the competition. EM provides a break from the ordinary and nabs the attention of consumers. Nearly every brand has a digital marketing strategy, but few capitalize on the power of EM. When you harness this power and use memorable events to position your brand as edgy and creative, you find a real opportunity to scale.

Gain Media Attention

Launching a bold EM initiative can effectively grab the media’s attention, meaning you’ll gain coveted press coverage for your event. Media outlets are eager to cover big and daring events because they appeal to audiences. The bolder your campaign is, the better your chances of earning coverage.

Why Your Brand Needs EM

Researchers estimated in 2017 that nearly one-third of all Internet users would choose to use some type of ad blocker within the next five years. This means online advertising may become even more problematic, and it’s already tough because the market is so crowded. Brands must therefore start thinking outside of the box now, before their marketing campaigns hit a dead-end.

Improves Customer Acquisition

We’ve already established that experiential campaigns and in-store events are more efficient, and far more rewarding, than a standard Google ads campaign. That’s because these events stick in customers’ minds and generate something even more important than word-of-mouth promotion: customer acquisition. And this happens much more quickly than the traditional sales funnel required with digital advertising.

Increases Purchase Intent

Studies confirm that EM can increase customer purchase intention. People are profoundly influenced by emotional, associative, and sensory experiences and are more likely to rate a product or service as “positive” following a branding event.

It’s important to understand that value resides in more than the functional benefits of a product. It also exists in the hedonic elements surrounding a product, and companies that successfully manage these aspects can achieve a great competitive advantage. In other words, crafting a unique and engaging marketing experience can influence a customer’s intent to purchase.

Creates More Value for Consumers

EM is a great way to build value for consumers. It allows customers to see how products can be used to the greatest advantage, and with this comes increased desirability. Television shopping networks have capitalized on this concept beautifully for many decades. They demonstrate the positive impacts a product can have on a person’s life, and that product suddenly becomes irresistible. EM can have the same effect.

What EM Is Not

A quick online search will reveal any number of definitions for EM, but we prefer to think of it as a marketing strategy that deeply engages customers with a brand. This does not mean, however, EM is just another term for experience marketing. EM refers to interactions that occur in an offline settering, whereas experience marketing covers the entire customer experience, whether that occurs online or not.

A Synonym for Event Marketing

It’s equally important to understand EM is more than event marketing. Events like trade shows, conferences, and in-store sampling are individual channels of EM each used to achieve a specific goal.

EM encompasses the many elements that go into planning and executing these events with success. This means that experiential marketing, if done correctly, considers the expectations of event participants as well as current consumer behaviors. It is a much broader initiative that ultimately aims to humanize brands.

A Solution That Can Be Developed Without Effort

If EM could be quickly and easily implemented, more companies might include it in their annual marketing plans. But EM is not a silver bullet. It is comprised of real-time, one-on-one interactions that give consumers an inside look into a brand’s character. This means every element must be carefully considered with the right strategy, people, and process.

The time and effort you invest in EM will be highly rewarding. It provides an exciting way to meet the people buying and using your products. But these campaigns, as you likely noticed, also require a strong command of event planning. That’s where we come in, with our ability to ensure every detail is accounted for and executed. Contact King Sixteen today and plan your next event with a team of dedicated professionals.

How Do You Create a Successful Experiential Marketing Campaign?

How Do You Create a Successful Experiential Marketing Campaign?

There are dozens of marketing strategies businesses employ to attract new consumers, but in the age of digital marketing, launching a new product with an intangible advertisement may not be as effective as one would hope. Fortunately, some marketing strategies are timeless for a reason, and experiential marketing is a classic for a reason. If you want to enjoy an effective campaign to reach new consumers, then taking your strategy to the real world may be your greatest tool.

So, what is experiential marketing? You can think of this marketing strategy as any event where your business can directly reach the consumer to create experiences about your products. While this type of marketing can look like anything from running a raffle to providing taste samples, one of the best campaigns is an event to launch a new product.

Creating a Successful Experiential Marketing Campaign

Corporate events can be an excellent platform to create buzz about a new business or product, or even celebrate the ongoing success of either. No matter what you use an event for, this type of marketing campaign can be an excellent way to create an experience between your brand and your consumers. The key to experiential marketing is to use activation to interact with the targeted consumer and draw attention to the brand.

There are several events that can be used in this type of marketing campaign. For example, a classic product launch party or a gala is ideal for some brands. Other examples of activation events can include product sampling, stunts, and even immersive experiences. But regardless of the type of event you use, some components of a successful campaign include:

Turn Key

A turn key event takes all the stress of planning, organizing, and setting up an event out of your hands. By using an event planning service, you can count on a turn key service that will deliver a flawless, totally customized event for your brand. From top to bottom, an event planning service will secure a venue, organize materials, and even add a special touch that will make your event stand out.

Security

Depending on the type of event you plan to hold, you may need security for your event. This is particularly important for brands holding exclusive events or events with a lot of buzz in the community. Whether you need a little security or a more robust setup, an event planning service will have you covered.

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Catering

Even if you aren’t launching a food or drink product, your event may still need catering. Catering is just as common for galas as it is for intimate small venues with only a few dozen consumers. Even if your event will be short, catering can be a good way to create a positive experience about the event, particularly if your catering is customized to your brand or product, such as cupcakes with your brand logo.

Material and Technical

Successful events are fully coordinated from the bottom to the top. From materials needed to decorate a venue to technical support that will run A/V productions or presentations, an event planning service will provide everything you need to create a fully customized experience. You can also trust an event planning service to fabricate materials for your venue according to your specifications or company culture.

Entertainment

Entertainment is sometimes necessary for certain events, such as galas. Whether it’s a string quartet or a DJ, event planning services are fully capable of hiring entertainment services ideal for your event. In fact, excellent entertainment may be the cherry on top of a good event and may be part of the draw for attendees.

Scalability 

Finally, a successful campaign will be scaled to your needs. Event planning services are fully capable of organizing events for a gathering of 100 people or 1000. Being able to scale your event to the number of desired attendees will give you an extra edge in hosting a successful event, particularly in terms of budgeting.

What Are the Benefits of an Experiential Campaign?

Event planning for corporations has been around for ages – and there’s a reason why this timeless strategy will be around for ages more. While it may seem like the digital age is phasing experiential events out of popularity, the facts suggest that experiential campaigns are just as effective as ever. Aside from the ability to use this marketing strategy to connect directly with your target consumers, there are several benefits to consider for these campaigns, such as:

They Are Highly Effective

If you thought that digital marketing strategies utilizing social media and email campaigns were the only way to advertise new products or build brands, then you couldn’t be more wrong. The fact of the matter is that experiential events are highly effective and generally produce the results you want.

Most consumers have a positive perception of a brand after an event, and they often go on to purchase the product or service promoted by the event. Even more impressively, a vast majority of these consumers also go on to become repeat customers after successful events. This is because successful experiences with new products or services create memories and trust in your brand.

Authentic Experience

While a digital strategy can generally reach more potential consumers, there are many consumers who won’t place trust in new products or brands that are advertised exclusively through the internet. This is particularly important for businesses that are trying to build or maintain brand awareness. By creating an authentic experience, you can make believers out of skeptics and utilize the benefit of word-of-mouth growth. Forming a positive experience about an event makes your brand authentic.

Engaging Social Media

Most social media marketing is related to using data to curate ads for consumers based on their browsing history, and while this is certainly one way to make sure your products are seen by your target audience, it may not be the only way to use social media in a marketing strategy. In essence, you can use an event to appeal to people who like to make memories and share them on social media.

In fact, by creating an authentic experience that people will want to photograph and share, you are building up the appeal of your brand. This is an excellent way to capitalize on essentially free marketing through social media, as sharing visual content can help extend the reach of your marketing campaign.

Positive Brand Connections

Building your brand is all about building trust in your products or services. But creating positive connections to your brand can’t only rely on basic marketing, especially if you have a new business or product. By hosting an event, you can create positive connections to your brand through interactions. If your connections are unique and memorable, you may be able to create trust between the brand and the consumer in a way that will fuel continued loyalty.

How Can You Measure the Success of an Event?

Of course, while hosting a memorable event and allowing consumers to directly experience a product or service is useful, most businesses understandably want to ensure that investing in these events will generate success in the business. Fortunately, there are several ways to measure the success of your event, such as:

Engagements and Conversions

Generating new leads is the basic goal of these events, so monitoring for new engagements and consumer conversions is a key data point to analyze. There are a couple of ways to measure engagements. Both during and after the event, you can check with sales representatives about how much your website was engaged, or even about how many people your sales reps interacted with during the event.

Measuring conversions is even easier, particularly if you are looking at website sales. You can measure these conversions by collecting basic contact information, such as email addresses, and then monitor sales from these addresses to judge how many event guests went on to become active consumers.

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Brand Awareness

For many businesses, the focus of an event is to create more brand awareness. Brand awareness is the bread and butter of a successful brand in the digital age, especially when so much of new business success relies on building a positive reputation. To measure the growth of brand awareness, you can employ a few different strategies.

One of the best and most direct ways to measure brand awareness is to use a survey to judge brand sentiment. Ideally, you should measure your brand awareness before and after an event to have a better idea of the growth accomplished by the event. And of course, you can also look at social media buzz by launching a hashtag and tracking the growth of engagements.

Direct Sales

Naturally, the most obvious way to judge the success of an experiential marketing event is to analyze the sales earned through the event. Experiential campaigns are direct appeals to new consumers, which means that you may be able to increase the overall sales of your business through these campaigns. Looking at sale numbers before and after an event can be an easy way to ascertain event success.

There are other ways you can determine the success of your sales, such as measuring how many products were sampled during your event. Although this measurement will not indicate direct lead generation, it will give you a better idea of how many potential consumers you reached, which you can then compare to lead generation data.

Why Experiential Marketing Is Still Relevant

The way businesses market new products and services in the digital age is simply a faster version of the advertising strategies that were used in the past. Instead of relying on newspaper articles or television ad spaces, now businesses can tailor marketing strategies to consumers based on data analytics. But that doesn’t mean that digital marketing is the only way or even the most effective way to reach consumers.

Experiential marketing is still relevant because it’s still an effective way to introduce new products, create new social buzz, and build more brand awareness and reputation. Successful campaigns can easily generate new leads for new consumers and build up the reputation of the product. For more information about how to activate unique markets around the world with event planning services, contact King Sixteen today. 

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What Is Experiential Marketing?

What Is Experiential Marketing?

As industries evolve and the need for innovative marketing strategies grows, more companies than ever are devising clever marketing tricks that subvert traditional advertising. There’s more competition to contend with daily, and customers seek out new and interesting experiences now more than ever. Over 80% of marketing experts agree that live events are vital to their success, and experiential marketing is a core component of brand awareness.

To clear up the myths and confusion surrounding this sort of strategy, we’ve written a concise guide on what it is and why it works to help our readers understand why businesses are increasingly recognizing the benefits. There are many facets and a myriad of approaches, but above all, it’s about creating memorable experiences.

Experiential Marketing

Experiential, “live”, or “engagement” marketing is a marketing strategy that aims to immerse customers within a brand’s identity. This is done using branded, hands-on experiences, with the central goal being to get the customer to associate a positive emotional encounter with the brand. Unlike traditional advertising, the customer is no passive, disinterested observer who begrudgingly sits through an advertisement.  

Instead, they are compelled to engage with a brand directly and, crucially, in a way that solidifies the event in memory, drawing a strong emotional bond between brand and experience. Picture an electrifying live event you have attended, such as a concert, theater production, or a sports game. How much more deeply is that occasion rooted in your mind than the countless times you have listened to the radio, watched a movie, or followed a match on the TV?

The Basics

Intense, vivid, memorable experiences are the beating heart of live marketing that makes it so powerful. It is far less about generating sales directly through events, and much more about creating positive associations and real connections with customers on a personal level. These associations invest consumers in a brand, cement long-term relationships, drive repeat business, and create passionate advocates who only amplify the campaign itself.

Benefits Over Traditional Marketing Strategies

The experiential approach is one that provides a myriad of benefits over other, mainstream approaches. Quite simply, it achieves things that other methods cannot, and are as follows:

  • Personal investment
  • Positive association
  • Connection between product and emotion
  • Viral marketing and share-ability
  • Standing out among competitors

Personal Investment

It is no secret that in today’s dispassionate and cold electronic business world, customers value human connection. By interfacing with customers directly, live marketing generates customer investment naturally. They see your brand in immediate proximity and feel as though they are a part of a larger whole – and not just another statistic on a spreadsheet.

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Positive Association

The positive association created by live experiences is valuable beyond measure. Simply put, your customers have fun engaging with you, which builds trust and endears them to you over your competitors. Importantly, once this happens, they’re very unlikely to switch.

Connection Between Product and Emotion

Even well into the future, your customers will continue to associate your products with the enjoyable experiences of a live marketing campaign. The very best of events will accompany them for years to come.

Viral Marketing and Share-Ability

Nobody retweets an advert or shares a post about an upcoming sale. Yet a massive portion of attendees to live events will create social media posts about them. In other words, they magnify the influence of your campaign with little additional effort (or cost) on your part.

Standing Out Among Competitors

Brand identity is what lets you stand out from the crowd, and experiential events build that identity and awareness brick by brick. And if your event has a unique twist or angle, all the better, because customers will associate it with your brand, and others trying to emulate it will only remind them of you.

Experiential Marketing in Practice: Some Examples

Showcases and Pop-Up Experiences

In practice, the possibilities for this style of campaign are boundless, and the sky is the limit. Product showcases are a classic example. With a little creativity, a product showcase needn’t be a dry affair, and they’re great for educating customers on the purpose of a product. Tasting events for culinary products and car exhibits are two typical types of product showcases.

A fantastic example of a pop-up experience is National Geographic’s Ocean Odyssey in Times Square, NYC. While less about marketing, and more about immersion, it serves as a stellar example of the draw of a truly unique experience.

Workshops

Hosting workshops and classes is a fantastic way of engaging with an audience while giving them something in return. A particular advantage of workshops is that they almost guarantee the undivided attention of attendees.

Single-Person Events

Experiential occasions needn’t cater to everybody or even a large audience. With the power of social media, single-person events that are widely shared communicate positive emotions and experiences to a wider audience.

Direct Marketing

Marketing events needn’t happen in public, and they don’t necessarily have to cater to new customers. It’s equally important to maintain the existing relationships, and one of the best ways to do this is with targeted, direct marketing. Instead of the run-of-the-mill brochures, catalogs and discount offers, why not send a bespoke list of existing customers a personalized postcard, or donate to a good cause on their behalf and let them know?

Direct mail combines well with other methods, too, to heighten the feeling of connectedness and personal investment. If you’re hosting a workshop or a showcase in a client’s hometown, send them a personal invite for an exclusive guest list.

Outside-the-Box Ideas

Some of the best campaigns are ones that think truly outside the box. One great example, Folger’s coffee manhole covers, made creative use of the steam emanating from the vents across NYC to emulate a hot cup of coffee. Not only is this immediately shareable on social media, but it’s incredibly cost-effective – and memorable for passers-by.

Another great example, also from NYC, is airline JetBlue’s ice block challenge, which offered passers-by the opportunity to win various prizes ranging from summer accessories to exclusive flights. The catch? The prizes were frozen in a thick block of ice and had to be smashed, hammered, and clawed free by eager onlookers. That’s not an experience anybody would forget.

Hallmarks of a Great Campaign

Anybody can envision a successful marketing strategy, yet there are several points to bear in mind to ensure that it is a success and provides a bountiful return on investment. No two campaigns are alike, yet all of the good ones share many of the same vital aspects.

  • Clear and actionable goals
  • Tell a story
  • Humanize your brand
  • Promote social media engagement
  • Lead Generation and follow-up
  • Measurable outcomes

Clear and Actionable Goals

Above all, your campaign needs to have clearly defined, achievable objectives. This applies to event marketing as it does to any other marketing strategy, and should go without saying. The intent behind a campaign is what defines everything that comes next. Are you looking to break into an untapped market? Improve brand awareness? Endear your brand to a new audience?

Tell a Story

As any junior-level marketing professional knows, stories are memorable. Stories drive advert engagement, engagement drives leads, and leads drive sales. The multi-dimensional aspect of live events offers the indispensable opportunity to involve and embed customers within that story. As we’ve stressed before, this type of marketing transforms customers into active participants.

Humanize Your Brand

One of the core goals of any experiential marketing campaign is to foster a personal connection with customers. To do this, a campaign needs to come across as authentic and down-to-earth. The message must stay true to your core brand identity and highlight what it is that makes you unique.

Promote Social Media Engagement

As we discussed earlier, one of the secondary benefits of this strategy is the free advertising your invested customers do on your behalf, often without realizing that they’re promoting your business. User-generated content can be planned for in advance, by creating appropriate hashtags and picture-worthy scenes that anybody would want to grace their social media feed.

Lead Generation and Follow-Up

Interacting with customers directly affords the opportunity of not only generating new sales leads, but gathering customer information in an organic fashion, potentially even with them volunteering their information. No live marketing campaign should be envisioned without consideration of how to gather information for follow-ups to reinforce the message.

Additionally, it’s a great opportunity to receive honest feedback from customers about your brand, and what’s more, listening to customer feedback at such events only goes further to make them feel included and valued.

Measurable Outcomes

Measurable data in marketing is king, for without it, you are unable to react and adapt to failing strategies, capitalize on successful ones, or even know if your campaigns are having an effect at all. You absolutely must know how well your campaigns are faring, and for this to happen, your outcomes need to be quantifiable.

Checklist for Kick-starting Your Own Campaign

It’s not easy to get it right, and for every story of amazing success, there are an equal number of campaigns that have fallen flat. If you’re looking to start a new campaign, it’s important to follow several critical steps in the planning process to maximize the results.

  • Brainstorm and gather information
  • Know your customer base
  • Understand your goal
  • Engage multiple senses
  • Work with industry professionals
  • Focus on your brand’s strength

Brainstorm and Gather Information

The critical first step. What are the first thoughts that spring to mind? What are others in the industry doing in this regard? Understanding your brand, and the market it exists in is critical.

Know Your Customer Base

Your customers are the ultimate recipients of your targeted strategies. What do they like about your brand, and what emotional responses can you expect from them?

Understand Your Goal

What is the endpoint of your campaign, and what does it seek to achieve? Critically, what do you want your customers to do as soon as they have experienced your event?

Engage Multiple Senses

Immersion beats passivity every time. By engaging more than one of the senses, you can be certain your event will have a larger impact. Sights, smells, sounds, colors, music, wonder, and awe. All are powerful, and all can be made to work for you.

Work With Industry Professionals

Ultimately, there’s no need to rely on your own intuition or guesswork. With the aid of proven industry professionals, your ideas can be supercharged with an injection of innovative ideas and an existing network and knowledge base required to turn foundational ideas into serious results.

It’s harder than ever before to grab people’s attention. In a crowded and bustling market, more and more brands are recognizing that enduring, fruitful relationships with customers are fundamental to generating repeat business. Becoming the brand that fosters positive emotional responses is the key to sustainable success in the future.

Contact King Sixteen today for more information about the pioneering strategies we offer.

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