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Experiential Marketing 101

When it comes to company events, trade shows, or promotional campaigns, the success is heavily reliant on your strategy. It's not solely the product or exhibit that motivates consumers to come back to a brand, but rather the way they experience it. This is where the term experiential marketing comes in.


 

What is Experiential Marketing?


In the past, brands have used print, billboards, and broadcasts to market. These means were sufficient but they're not as effective as they used to be. Today, most brands are looking for ways to increase sales and awareness, but they face the challenge of capturing and holding the attention of the consumer market.


Experiential Marketing (also known as experiential brand marketing, grassroots marketing, engagement marketing, or live marketing) is a way for brands to connect with consumers through experiences. These experiences are typically in person, but they also often have digital components, with the whole package designed to bring a brand or product to life in a big, impactful way. 


There are many types of marketing experiences a brand can bring to consumers. These experiences can range from: pop-up stores, virtual or hybrid events, parties or concerts, interactive installations, and even more. They range in scope from intimate events to celebrity or influencer partnerships.


There is no limit—as long as the experience aligns with the brand, supports its marketing goals, and delivers an engaging or fun moment for consumers. With experiential marketing, a business can immerse the consumer within the brand or product and show what the brand represents and values creating a memorable and emotional connection.

 

Keys to a Successful Experiential Marketing Campaign


 Successful experiential marketing campaigns work toward accomplishing the following: 


  • Branding: The brand is must be well represented. It should be clear who’s hosting the experience, and the campaign should be relevant and on-brand.

  • Creativity: For a campaign to capture the attention of the consumer, there must be some creativity or uniqueness involved. Campaigns must be able to engage the audience in unexpected ways beyond standard advertisements. Understanding what is currently trending in society and tapping into these trends will help you come up with something interesting and interactive for your target audience.

  • Participation: For any experiential marketing campaign to be a success, there must be participation. Brands must attract or invite consumers to join in and participate in the campaign. Through active participation and engagement the consumer is immersed in the world of the brand. This participation can create an emotional or memorable connection between consumer and brand.

  • Reward: Providing a reward or gift for participating is very important because it shows appreciation to the customer. This lets them know that the company cares about their customers. This also allows the consumer to gain a loyalty to the brand. Customers can be rewarded with various things like discount codes, free merch, or access to exclusive products after interacting with the brand. 

  • Measurability: The experience is measurable. Some ways you can do this are through head count, post-event surveys, and use of experience-specific social media hashtags and landing pages. Online experiences are easier to track with click-through rates (CTRs), views, return on ad spend (ROAS), and more.


 

Examples of Experiential Marketing


M&M: Flavor Rooms


If you've ever had a peanut M&M versus regular M&M debate, you know people can get passionate about candy. When M&M was working on choosing its next flavor, the company decided to do so with an immersive pop-up in New York City. 


The experience included "flavor rooms", which were each complete with decor and fragrances unique to each flavor. The pop-up also included snack and drink lounges with M&M-themed cocktails. Providing this entire experience offered great opportunities for M&M to connect with their audience and to be shared on different attendees' social media pages.


M&M's Flavor Room EXPERIENCE

 

Warner Bros Pictures: Barbie Movie Selfie Generator 


The recent movie, Barbie, was creatively marketed to fans of all ages and backgrounds — through unique trailers and immersive generative AI that let you become your own Barbie doll cover.



By visiting the website BarbieSelfie.ai, users were greeted with the message, "Welcome to Barbie Land, where you can be Barbie (or Ken). Click below to become an instant icon! #BarbieTheMovie".


This marketing campaign is a good example of an experiential marketing campaign as it makes moviegoers feel good to see themselves represented in the Barbie movie and made them feel as though they were a part of the Barbie fantasy experience that kids (and now adults) feel when they play with Barbie products.


It also served as movie promotion between friends, family, and followers as those who posted the photos were spreading the movie release date, as its premiere date was on every image generated.


 

Benefit Cosmetics: 'A Lashtastic Virtual-Media Campaign' 


In today's digital-first world, a good experience doesn't have to be in-person. But traditionally, consumers still want to test out new makeup products before purchasing — which created a challenge for Benefit Cosmetics during the worldwide pandemic, in which most retail locations were closed. 


To draw attention to its new Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara, Benefit chose to create an immersive experience in which users could collect tokens and exchange those tokens for discounts, mascaras, or virtual beauty consultations on Benefit's website. Best of all, they used Augmented Reality to create a fun, unique experience for their users. 


Here's how it worked: Once users signed into Benefit's Virtual Reality platform, they were asked to drop their location. Next, thanks to Augmented Reality, the prospects could use their phones to find tokens in their physical space. 



Benefit Cosmetics AR try on

Benefit Cosmetics Lashtastic Website Home page

 

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