How to Add Experiential Marketing to Your Event Calendar

Marketing is all about showing – and telling. You can tell your audience that your product or service is the best till you’re blue in the face, but it won’t make an impact unless you show why it’s the best or how it solves their problem. 

You might be surprised at the number of advertising impressions per day that the average online viewer is bombarded with. It’s about 6,000 to 10,000 messages daily! People are tired of being marketed at and are savvy to digital advertising. They want something new that piques their attention, so why not push the boundaries, and get creative with experiential marketing?  

What is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing campaigns create an experience that brings your brand to life. They’re events that stir up interest and make you pause, look or connect. But they’re more than just events. They can be product demos, taste tests, rides, slides, special in-store promotions, or interactive campaigns IRL (in real life). The aim is to create awareness, brand affinity and loyalty, and expand cross channel promotions plus of course – generate leads. 

How and why will experiential marketing benefit your business? 

If you’re looking to boost event ROI, think about adding experiential marketing to your annual marketing planning calendar. Typically, customers will remember events because there’s direct engagement. For companies, there’s a bigger opportunity to control messaging and a process for lead generation with street team or brand ambassador marketing. Experienced event staff work with crowds (but really one-to-one) to test drive concepts, copy, as well as get valuable feedback. 

This summer, brands large and small are looking to showcase their products offline, especially post-Covid. Poll a group of friends and ask if they’re ready to get out of the house. Most will cautiously and optimistically say “yes.” Ask any brand manager who’s in charge of events at trade shows, concerts, or community events, and you’ll hear, “send me the details!”

My thought is that there will be plenty of events where your brand can gain traction and expand its influence – and not just online. We’ve been promoting Xfinity and their products and services at events with brand ambassadors marketing for over 22 years in the Boston DMA. The good news is, you don’t need to have a Fortune 100 budget to start a campaign or try experiential marketing, 

3 Benefits of Experiential Marketing 

Control of your image

Want to have control of your message? Of course, but there’s some risk with nearly every marketing tactic; (direct mail, to a lesser degree). You never really know how audiences on social media will react to your latest campaign – and if something goes awry, you can’t react quickly enough. 

With experiential marketing, you can be face-to-face with your audience, ask and answer questions, gauge their genuine reaction to your product, and get feedback. If they love it, you know it. If they hate your product or service, or feel ‘meh’, you’ll know that too. 

Similarly, if someone is confused or curious, you’ve got an opportunity to answer questions in real-time, and if you’ve got an engaging event staff – who are properly trained and genuinely interested – you can get additional data and insight. If you’re just interacting online, you don’t have the same level of attention or human bond. Just look at chat room etiquette. It’s easy to disconnect and there’s no skin in the game. 

Bring the offline experience online

You might think that experiential marketing is all about the offline experience. That’s a big piece of it, but not everything. Check out these marketing tips to grow your business online, while providing an exciting experience offline:

  • Extend the amount of time people spend with your brand and make a more lasting connection. Encourage people to follow you on social media and build part of the experience into something your audience takes home with them. One example could be sponsoring a photo booth or “staged frame” that includes your brand’s logo and social media handles. People love to get in the picture and share. 
  • Another way to gain interaction online is with a branded hashtag. If you’re promoting your company at a trade show, expo, or community event, create an event hashtag and promote it to your audience. Create a contest (and rules) for attendees to post their own images to win prizes for the most shares, etc. They’ll be able to see and comment on everyone else’s experience, too.
  • Ask for permission to email a special offer or discount. This is frequently used to build an email database specific to an event for a particular service or product, It might also be used for beta testing, focus groups, or to trial products or services. What people don’t like is to be lied to or misled, so be honest in what you’ll deliver and when. And make it easy to opt-out of any promotion. 

Add value for your audience

If you’re creating an experiential marketing campaign, add real value. Whether it’s a game, taste test or freebie, promote a positive experience – something viewers can learn, take home to improve their life or and at the very least, make them smile. You never know what’s going to make an impact and social media lasts forever – so put thought into your brand message and how they’ll remember you. 

Bottomline: Experiential marketing is one way to show, not just tell the public or your target audience, that your brand is worthy of attention. It’s not for every company, but for many, events are key to increasing small business exposure. 

Go outside the box to come up with ideas that bring a unique experience to your brand with a call-to-action that drives results. 

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ROBIN SAMORA

MARKETING & PR EXPERT

As a small business owner for the last 20 years, I’ve gained experience, wisdom, insight, and knowledge to help you market yourself and your brand at a fraction of the cost. My focus is to use the same PR and promotional strategies used by bigger brands, and personalize them to fit your needs and goals.

I’d love to help you

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Robin raises the bar for all of her clients so they can get what they want and desire. She has the experience, skill and the super passion to get us from where we are today to where we aim to be tomorrow. I am sincerely and deeply grateful to her and recommend anyone out there who launched a product or wrote a book to get in touch with Robin not tomorrow, but today.

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