Experiential marketing is defined as a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand. That’s actually a pretty good definition, but people still fail to recognize it when they see it.
Some may say that’s because it’s such a small subset of the marketing funnel. I don’t agree with that notion. Experiential marketing is anything that delivers a brand experience to a consumer.
It’s not just event marketing and out-of-home activations.
Here’s a list of some common marketing tactics that you probably didn’t realize fall under experiential marketing.
What’s the first place you often go to interact with a brand? That’s right, their website. It’s not spoken of enough, but companies invest thousands of dollars into the user experience of their site.
How you flow from one page to another. The process in which videos and photos are loaded and displayed. Fun animations that add a little “wow” factor. These are all things that are considered long and hard before implementing into a company’s website.
It may not feel that important at first, but your impression of a website can easily determine your future brand interactions.
#2: Social Media
Social media is constantly an afterthought for companies. We’ll be asked to maintain several accounts, but only because everyone else is doing it. Ever consider why we do this?
We use social media to interact with consumers and show them what we’re about.
- What it’s like to work here
- What kind of work we do
- Why we’re good at it
We do this all to elicit a response; to engage; to provide an experience.
If we’re doing our job right, every consumer who visits our page will leave our page with a positive experience. If we’re doing a great job, they people w ill come back and further their experience. Crazy thought, right?
#3: Guerrilla Marketing
Remember the last time you were approached by someone on the street? No, not in a weird way. I’m talking about someone who handed you a flyer, bumper sticker, or something potentially useful in return for your contact info.
Seems a little awkward—and it can be—but guerrilla marketing can be a crucial low-cost marketing option for brands if executed correctly. This could be a consumer’s first experience with your brand and it could also be his last. Either way, it’s an experience that the brand dictates.
Is it glamorous? No.
Is it memorable? It depends on the brand and the people representing them.
It’s the person who makes the experience here. It’s not an event or a TV ad, but simple face-to-face conversation. That dialogue is what epitomizes experiential marketing.
Brands can create great content and fascinating activations, but there’s no experience more important to a consumer than an actual trial of the product or service.
Let’s face it, regardless of the size and reputation of your brand, nothing tells the real story like the actual product or service itself. Once you try something, you know.
It’s like online dating—you can have a great online profile and be a charmer via text, but it’s your impression on the first date that determines your future.
Sampling is one of the more common experiential marketing tactics, but it’s one that few people realize.
- The Monster and Red Bulls trucks roaming college campuses to hand out free cans to students
- The shot girl doling out free shots at the bar
- The Pepsi Challenge taste test at major events
Sampling is everywhere. It can be a large display or bare bones simple. No matter how you look at it, you’re looking at experiential marketing.
#5: Interactive Advertisements
Advertisements have come a long way, especially in the past couple years. I’m talking about everything from banner ads to billboards.
The problem is, consumers will do anything to avoid them. So how do you make something inherently boring and one-sided appealing to the masses? You make it interactive.
Skittles did it with interactive YouTube videos. They were weird, but they were engaging. If you can’t skip a fifteen-second YouTube ad, why not make it worth their while?
Ads often feel one-directional, but when you can add an interactive layer like Skittles did, it becomes more than just an ad. It becomes experiential marketing.
I’m not here to drape the experiential marketing umbrella over all of marketing. What I am here to do is tell you that experiential marketing exists beyond large events and custom builds.
Consumers see and feel brands everywhere they go. Every experience tells a story, so it’s up to you to make each one worthwhile.