These days, traditional marketing strategies just don’t cut it. With common advertising techniques yielding suboptimal results, it’s clear younger demographics aren’t as receptive to the strategies of yesteryear. Print, radio, and even television marketing have consistently declined in R.O.I, and social media advertising has grown to the point of oversaturation.
That’s why you need to adjust the methods you use to reach potential customers. The best way to do this is by developing an experiential marketing strategy. Experiential marketing is a cutting-edge guerilla marketing tactic, designed to engage consumers and form a long-term emotional bond with your brand.
What is experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing, also known as engagement marketing, is a strategy that utilizes direct contact with a customer as a means to establish a strong connection between that customer and your brand. This contact acts as a way for the consumer to experience how their life could benefit from your product or service, and encourages organic growth of brand-awareness.
The way this growth comes about is by providing an experience so engaging, the customer wants to share it with other people (either in-person or via social media). In this way, you get far more bang for your buck than with traditional marketing. If you can have someone associate positive feelings with your brand, to the point where they feel compelled to tell others, that effect will multiply and result in further brand activations.
HOW IS AN EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING STRATEGY EFFECTIVE?
Experiential marketing allows customers to see the human element behind a product or business. This has shown to be quite effective in fostering an emotional connection with a brand, and these tend to outlast the more shallow connections formed through traditional advertising. A smiling face, sincere enthusiasm, and real physical interaction with a product can all make a huge difference in creating long term, loyal patronage.
The way you go about designing this brand experience depends entirely on what your product or service is, how you want to be seen by the public, and what your activation goals are. While the possibilities are endless, there are a few tried-and-true experiential marketing strategies you can use as the foundation for your campaign.
Different types of experiential marketing strategies
There is a wide range of different avenues to explore when developing your experiential marketing strategy. Here are several different types of strategies, and how they can function to boost brand activations.
- Pop-up shop: The most commonly-known form of experiential marketing, a pop-up shop allows you to market your brand while also making a small amount of sales. A purchase can be a powerful way to connect with a consumer, as this allows them to take a piece of your brand home with them. One drawback to this method is that while most consumers are willing to participate in a free event, some may not be interested in spending money right there and then.
- Branded Mobile Tour: A branded mobile tour involves the use of a vehicle, bearing a visual representation of your brand, traveling to areas and allowing potential consumers to engage in a tailor-made brand experience. A secondary benefit of this tactic is the passive advertisement resulting from your branded vehicle. Your brand vehicle should include links to social media or more information about stops in the tour, so you can increase the foot traffic once you stop and set up.
- Brand Booth: Often seen at conventions and fairgrounds, a brand booth should function as a microcosm of your entire brand image. Think of this as a more focused version of your mobile tour; since you will only be setting up in one location, you can really go all out on the brand experience. The best brand ambassadors, the cleanest product demo, and a slick social media tie-in are all the building blocks for a successful brand booth.
How do I develop a winning experiential marketing strategy?
The way you develop your experiential marketing strategy relies heavily on the image of your brand. You need to fully understand who your customer base is, and what they want. Designing an experience that plays to these desires can help foster the emotional connection you are shooting for. You want a potential consumer to experience how their life could benefit from a relationship with your brand.
Let’s take one of the above methods, and apply it to a fictional coffee brand to see how it would function.
STRATEGY EXAMPLE: COFFEE BRAND
If your coffee brand is looking to create an experiential marketing strategy, a good choice would be to create a pop-up shop.
As a lower-cost item, coffee is an easier sell than a piece of technology or clothing. While a high-end fashion company may benefit from a brand booth, most customers are willing to shell out a few dollars to try a new brand of coffee. Allowing a customer to smell and taste the product in a coffee shop type setting will create that positive experience you are aiming for.
Having a temporary storefront, with eye-catching visual branding drawing people in, is a great way to get your product into the hands of potential long-term customers. Then, when the pop-up shop is gone, this customer will naturally look for your brand in stores to recreate those feelings of positivity.
This is just one of a nearly infinite number of possibilities for combining your unique brand with a complimentary experiential marketing method. The ability to tailor the brand experience you provide to consumers is the largest benefit of developing an experiential marketing strategy. That, and many other reasons, are why it should be a primary technique in your marketing campaign playbook.