What Brands Use Experiential Marketing?

If you have ever seen someone giving away free samples at the supermarket, then you have experienced experiential marketing. But we promise it can get a lot more interesting than that. Gone are the days when a consumer just needed to like your products. Now brands need to be relatable and show they connect with their consumers. Creating experiences is the perfect way to engage with your consumer base and make your brand unforgettable.

What Brands Use Experiential Marketing?

Experiential, sometimes called engagement, marketing can cover a wide range of events. It essentially means that the company has gone beyond traditional advertising and created something that allows the consumer to really connect with the product. Often this means putting on an event, creating an experience that enables the consumer to really interact with the product.

The list of companies using this style of branding and advertising grows longer every year. As demand grows for connection, trends change to a preference for experiences, and technology allows more innovative campaigns, more brands have seen the power of this concept.

 

The Experts in the Field (and in the Park, the Bar, and More…)

LuluLemon

LuluLemon is often considered a giant when it comes to this type of marketing. While some companies go for big, loud events to bring an awareness of and personality to their brand, LuluLemon is effective by living what they sell.

They continuously run HIIT and yoga workshops and consistently provide spaces for people to use their product for a good workout. These events promote the health and well-being that many purchasing their products are striving to achieve. And helping their customers with the shock that, stylish as they are, having the right pants doesn’t do the whole job for you.

Red Bull

Red Bull has always had its finger on the (likely fast racing) pulse in marketing. Attaching themselves to music and extreme sports, they have created a pretty cool image for something people usually use to stay up all night to write assignments and program code.

Not content to sit on the sidelines, Red Bull has had enormous success running their own events. They have created events that specifically and effectively target their own demographic. These include a zany Soapbox race that invites fans to make and race their own self-made carts. Most famously, they sent skydiver Felix Baumgartner to space for the world’s longest skydive. A pretty awesome stunt from a soft drinks company.

Netflix

Netflix is a company that is good at getting its audience. They respond to the data they collect by creating content that people want to watch. Sounds pretty simple, but a lot of other companies don’t seem to get it. They’ve applied these same skills to create some fantastic events to promote their shows and brands.

They are a fan of creating spaces that allow fans to immerse themselves in the worlds of their TV shows. For instance, Mayor Kline’s Fun Fair in Santa Monica allowed people to immerse themselves in the world of Stranger Things. Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garten in Austin was transformed into a speakeasy to promote The Highwayman. To promote their film, Birdbox, they sent a double-decker bus around Los Angeles and Austin to invite participants on to give them some thrilling jump-scares. A pretty memorable piece of marketing.

Airbnb

It may not be surprising to learn that Airbnb is skilled at experiential marketing as offering experiences is a key section of their platform, but they’ve put on some impressive events to promote their hosting platform too.

They have teamed up with VICE and Pantone to create some unique stunning places for people to stay. Their most elaborate giveaway involved sending the lucky winners to have a sleepover with The Mona Lisa in the Louvre. This prize included a feast, private art tour, and concert in Napoleon III’s lavish Apartments surrounded by priceless artwork.

Innovators in the Streets

Zappos

Zappos experiential marketing got a lot of attention when they asked people to give up free cupcakes. They partnered up with Google and followed a Google van giving away free cupcakes in exchange for selfies. Their station then offered a chance to exchange these cupcakes for goodie bags from their brand.

Videos of people hesitantly handing over their delicious-looking cupcakes to what is essentially a guy in a box are pretty hilarious and gained attention. They did receive nice sunglasses and watches in return. We may have stuck with the cupcake though.

Misereor

This one required a lot of coordination but was a pretty special “Social Swipe” Billboard: interactive billboards that you could use to donate $2 at locations such as airports and shopping malls. They would feature things like a loaf of bread you could ‘slice’ with your card and know that money was donated to feed people.

The company fighting poverty found a new way to make people care to donate. Misreor capitalized on the fact that we never carry cash anymore, and tapping or swiping our cards is no longer strange.

Oreos

Oreos put together a delicious and creative innovation with 3D-printed Oreos. Oreo partnered with Maya design at SXSW for this stunt. They utilized a lot of current technologies to create their experience.

Those visiting the Oreo Lounge could choose from 12 creamy flavor combos, and their cookie would be ready in under 2 minutes. It’s a lot more tech involved than just pulling one from the wrapper but very clever marketing.

Creative Campaigns

WestJet

WestJet received thousands of views on their heartwarming “Christmas Miracle” campaign YouTube video. They had asked passengers about to step on a flight what Christmas presents they would like.  While the flight was en route, staff rushed to buy those exact gifts and deliver them to guests at the baggage carousel.

The passengers were pretty surprised to see the gifts they had asked for actually appear. There were widescreen TVs, Android tablets, Galaxy Phones, and more. There was also one guy opening a packet of underwear and socks, who probably regrets that he didn’t go a bit bigger. Not hard to see why most of these folks would have a strong attachment and want to book WestJet again.

Casper

Casper has been doing a pretty good job making some excitement out of marketing mattresses. Something many would consider a pretty mundane purchase. They got people talking with their clever marketing at the annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

This particular year the usual shortage of hotel rooms was worsened by a flight-canceling snowstorm. Casper teamed up with Standard Hotel’s One: Night app to provide cheap hotel rooms for people. Of course, they fitted those hotel rooms with a Casper mattress. There were also plenty of extras added on, including the option to call for a bedtime story and have someone tuck you in!

Coca Cola

Coca-Cola offered free James Bond movie tickets from a vending machine at a train station in Antwerp, Belgium. The catch was that you had to get to another vending machine on another platform in seventy seconds. Along the way, they had strategically placed obstacles to get through.

Video of the stunt quickly went viral. This fun and adventurous giveaway created good publicity for both Coca-Cola and the new James Bond film.

Mistakes Have Been Made

Although using experiences in marketing is a great strategy, it is important to know what you’re doing. When interacting with your consumer base, there’s a lot to think about and a lot that can go wrong. Our article wouldn’t be complete without talking about some of those disasters.

 

Dr. Pepper

Dr. Pepper had a fun-sounding campaign with a large-scale treasure hunt for people across the city. The prizes were pretty big, too. One gold coin would get the claimant ten thousand dollars in return.

It’s all fun and games until someone buries a coin in a cemetery. Hard to see exactly how no one could see the upcoming disaster. The city pretty quickly closed off access to the site as players started to descend; as you might expect, they were pretty concerned about the cemetery being desecrated as people tried to find the valuable coin. Dr. Pepper: “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Jagermeister

Well, Jagermeister really did mess up by accidentally poisoning those attending their event. In Leon, Mexico the folks running a pool party decided the event would be super cool if they poured liquid nitrogen over the pool to create a smoke effect.

Shockingly, these party planners were no experts in chemistry. What they did not realize was that liquid nitrogen combined with chlorine creates a toxic reaction. The fumes that rose from the pool caused several people to fall ill.

Snapple

Snapple created a fruity flood all down the center of New York in a disaster you would think would be easier to spot coming. They decided to create a 25-foot-tall, 17½-ton frozen version of their drink as a downtown stunt.

As it was a hot summer’s day, and the giant popsicle quickly started to melt. Firefighters had to close off city streets to clear up the mess as would-be onlookers fled for higher ground.

As you can see, experiential marketing is all around with many large brands trying their hand in creating engaging events to promote their brand and engage their consumers. When you get it right, it can be very effective in creating a positive memory and link to your brand with customers. If you would like to learn more and get professional help engaging your clients, talk to King Sixteen today.

What Does an Experiential Marketer Do?

Experiential marketing means putting a whole event together that represents brands and engages consumers. As you can imagine, that involves a lot of work. An experiential marketer needs creativity, organization, people skills, and a lot of energy. They also need to have an exceptional understanding of the market and what people want from a brand.

You can think of it in terms of putting together a film. There needs to be an idea, someone with a vision. A production stage with many hands working together to achieve the goal. Distributing the concept to a wider audience follows. Someone yelling “action” is completely optional.

What Does an Experiential Marketer Do?

The Idea Stage

This is where the marketer can really shine in creating amazing ideas for their brand, but it takes a lot of work.

Market Research

It might sound pretty obvious, but knowing the market is a big part of the success here. Understanding the brand you are working with and the demographic they want to target is the key to succeeding in experiential marketing.

A wonderful idea that doesn’t match a brand’s demographic will cause carnage and potentially ruin the client’s image. A wonderful idea that doesn’t do what the client wants it to do is unhelpful. A wonderful idea that costs too much is probably not all that wonderful an idea.

Having marketing knowledge is the foundation top putting together a good experience. There are fundamental dos and don’ts. A marketer creating these experiences needs to understand the underlying concepts about client bases and what consumer groups respond to. You do not want someone who has skipped their schooling here. A good team will do their research before planning an event.

 

Working With the Brand

Do they want to target new clients or existing ones? What do they hope to get from this event? Are they happy to pair up with other brands? What should this campaign say, or not say, about them? Sometimes clients might not even know the answers to these questions, so working it out in the early stages is really important.

Clear goals are what we want here. Really understanding the brand, what they represent, and who they want to target. For experiential marketing, the team involved needs to work closely with their client and be skilled in understanding their needs. Putting everyone on the same page. Reading from the same hymnsheet. Synergising. All the cliches.

 

Brainstorming

In this kind of marketing, innovation is everything. A good event strives to be memorable. This is what successful experiential marketing does. Consumers should come away thinking of the brand in a fresh new light and wanting to engage further with them. A lot of marketing revolves around connecting with consumers. However, in this industry, the work involves a lot more than just creating a successful Insta post for people to click and like.

Even giving away free stuff can fall flat if it feels tired and jaded. And no company wants it to look like they can’t even give their product away. It is acceptable to use similar tactics, such as getting people to pose for a photo or giving away product samples. However, a marketer needs to put a unique spin on their version of the event that will really show off the value of a product. The experiential marketing team is the architect behind that idea.

Getting the Word Out

Party planning 101. If you want people to turn up to you’ve got to invite them. This work involves getting all across the brand’s social media so that everyone and their sister knows about the incredible event you are putting together and wants to join in.

This side of the job puts us back in the more traditional marketing territory of understanding social media. Of course, some events will be private and there isn’t a need for this. Some, however, need a deft hand to get the word out to the relevant demographic so that they can turn up to engage with and promote the brand.

 

Event Planning

Of course, actually planning the event is a key part of the job. Depending on the type of event or experience, this could mean a huge number of things. So an experiential marketer has to be flexible and ready to liaise with a huge amount of different companies to set the event up successfully.

Of course, there are the boring sides of liability insurance, health and safety, and adequate facilities to think about too. In this role, checking every box and dreaming up every possible scenario is critical to ensure an event runs smoothly. When representing a brand, there is no room for error.

To further crash the dream party, there are the harsh realities of a budget. Every campaign needs to work within the confines of the budget set for the project. Of course, giving away a free iPod to customers is probably a great way to get them to love a brand, but the job here is to get a little more creative with the funds. This means thinking creatively to really get the most out of any set budget.

The Production Stage

Leading Events

Here is where the action happens. Experiential marketing can mean anything from a small giveaway to a full-scale concert. Depending on the event, the logistics can get very complicated. A good experiential marketing team needs to be able to handle a wide variety of different tasks.

Keeping guests and venues happy, organizing catering, decorating locations, managing equipment, and coordinating staff are just some of the many things to have a handle on. On top of that, should any issues arise on the day, they need to be smoothly and calmly sorted out.

As with any event planning, days can be long and incorporate many different skill-sets. Staying calm under pressure is another required feature of a great event marketer. However, there is no better feeling than pulling off an incredible event that represents the client wonderfully.

 

Filming Events

In many cases, if the company is putting together something unique, entertaining, or endearing, they are going to want the rest of the world to see it. Sure, you can put on a fun show for a handful of people in one city on one day, but why not show everyone else?

If you impressed the people who directly engaged, you’ll want to make sure that emotion can translate through to some great footage. Maybe onlookers will film it themselves. But a good experiential marketing team will ensure that there is professional footage too so that anyone with access to YouTube can also see what an amazing event the brand held.

The Distribution Stage

Showing Off the Event

If the event was filmed, that film needs to get out into the world. Working across different platforms, experiential marketing teams will work to showcase their footage. This involves making sure the footage is well-edited and represents exactly what the company wanted. Well-edited footage of a great brand experience can then be seen by thousands of possible or existing customers.

Brands have huge success with experiential marketing when the video goes viral. A heart-warming scene of a surprise giveaway can go pretty far online. And that is excellent news for the brand behind that heart-warming video. A marketer who has an excellent understanding of just how to do that will return even more on investment for their client.

Analyzing Reports

Obviously the most fun part of any job is analyzing the data. Okay, maybe not, but it is very important. You need to know if your campaign works. Tracking sales or engagement with a brand can give an insight into how well the campaign you put together performed.

There are many indicators that a brand event has gone successfully. Sometimes it can be as obvious as tracking sales. Other times it might be looking at sign-ups, gauging customer responses, looking at how long people stayed, or monitoring social media buzz. Another aspect of the job is to know which of these factors matter and what you are expected to deliver.

There’s often a large investment in these kinds of events. Any good experiential marketer will do the proper research to know that they are returning on that investment. Their work will improve the image, reach, or sales of their client. When things haven’t gone completely right, it is important to know why and what happened. And when they have gone right, it’s nice to know just how right and learn from that too.

Need Help?

So, what do experiential marketers do? The answer, as you can see, is a lot. Taking a brand, understanding them and what they want, all the way to forming an idea and executing it flawlessly. It’s a huge responsibility and can really boost a business’s performance when done right. Certainly, any brand wants the right team behind them when they want to pull this off.

At KingSixteen we have an experienced and accomplished experiential marketing team. We work hard to perform all the tasks mentioned above and love doing it. If you would like to talk to us about the vision you have for your brand call KingSixteen today. We would love to discuss and design the perfect event for your brand.

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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