May 29, 2024
May 24, 2024

Market Smarter by Tapping into Experiential Marketing

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Experiential marketing is under the umbrella of marketing and allows customers to interact with a brand through events and experiences. It immerses customers so they have an increased emotional connection to the brand, and it is more interactive; they are active participants in your marketing strategy. 

A personal example of the power of experiential marketing is the Barbie movie. When the Barbie movie was released on July 21, 2023, I was dressed head-to-toe in pink. In fact, everyone who attended with me was dressed up. Dressing up to sit in a dark room and watch a movie might not make sense on paper, but it is an example of experiential marketing that helped boost Barbie’s ticket sales, which resulted in Barbie being “the biggest domestic opening weekend of 2023.”

Many companies plan run-of-the-mill events, but with a little intentionality, you can create transformational experiences. You can maximize your marketing with events and experiences in three steps:

  1. Implement an idea
  2. Follow up on leads
  3. Reap the benefits

Let’s dive into the specifics of each of these steps! 

Implement an Idea

In the book The Experience Economy, we see how the economy started with commodities in the Agrarian Economy, then shifted to goods in the Industrial Economy, and then delivery in the Service Economy. In this day and age, however, people want to experience a brand. And they’ll pay a premium for it.

Experiences come in all shapes and sizes, and the right one depends on your needs, budget, and location. Here are some examples of popular experiential marketing events:

  • Trade shows
  • Client/ prospect outings
  • Technical training webinars
  • Networking socials
  • Partnership webinars
  • Sponsored events in the community
  • Community outreach service
  • Professional sports timeout activities 

At Awardco, we host and participate in a plethora of experiences to market our brand. For one, we host the Recognize Summit event every year, and we invite our current clients and prospects to attend. It is a two-day event filled with speakers, networking, good food, and activities unique to our location. We even attend an NBA Jazz basketball game in the Awardo suite at the Delta Center. 

From this event, we received an NPS of 71.42 for future events similar to our Recognize Summit, and more than half of the respondents said they enjoyed hearing about our product updates and roadmap. People don’t like being sold to, but when the product is woven into an event with learning and networking, people enjoy hearing about it. 

As you start thinking about what type of experiential marketing campaigns you want to run, here are a few tips on brainstorming.

Creative Constraints

This is a brainstorming technique where you go through multiple rounds of brainstorming with various requirements, such as ideas if you had an unlimited budget, ideas if you had to implement them tomorrow, ideas if it had to be completed by AI only, etc. This helps you think outside the box and come up with ideas you may not normally. 

The Design Thinking Process

This is a 5-step, non-linear process for innovation and brainstorming new ideas. The five steps are:

  • Empathize. Gathering data about your target market. You want to learn what they want from your experiential marketing campaign.
  • Define. Creating a short statement about the needs of your target market.
  • Ideate. Brainstorming solutions to meet the needs you identify.
  • Prototype. Finding a low-fidelity way to get feedback before formally launching your campaign.
  • Test. Very similar to prototyping. 

The article here goes more in-depth on how you can apply the design thinking process to your brainstorming. You can apply the design thinking process to anything, so you can come up with more ways to create a unique, tailored experiential marketing campaign. 

The BETTER Model

This is an experiential marketing structure that helps you go in-depth on what you should focus on:

  • Brand personality
  • Emotional connection
  • Target market
  • Two-way connection
  • Exponential elements
  • Reach

As you start your brainstorming sessions, you can use the BETTER model to focus on what elements in your campaign you need to brainstorm that will be the most effective. You can learn more about the BETTER model here

Just pick an idea and start brainstorming for your specific company’s needs. You’ll be amazed by the ideas you come up with!

Follow Up on Leads

There is a lot of traffic that comes from events. Whether it is a pop-up booth, product launch event, or prospect outing, people often become more interested in your product as they positively interact with it. It is key to follow up.

For an event to become more of an experience, there must be three phases: anticipation, participation, and reflection. The anticipation phase includes inviting people to your event, planning the event, sending them information about the event, etc. It includes everything that happens before. The participation is the event itself where they are immersed in your brand. 

Finally, the reflection phase is everything that happens afterward, including all post-event surveys and communication.

Part of the reflection phase is following up on leads and ensuring your campaign continues to take up space in your customer’s thoughts and feelings. Once you’ve planned and implemented your campaign, it is key to follow up.

Don’t worry! We have a couple of tips on how to follow up after the event:

  • Send an email asking for feedback from the experience 
  • Send an email with promotional deals and other advertisements about the product/ service they experienced during the campaign
  • Invite sales to follow up with leads to set up a demo or chat about your product/ service

Reap the Benefits

Experiential marketing is vital for increasing your competitive advantage because experiential marketing creates touchpoints for a customer to have a great experience.

A study was conducted where experiential marketing experts were asked what they thought were the greatest benefits of implementing experiential marketing touchpoints. The most mentioned benefits were:

  1. Customer experience 
  2. Customer loyalty 
  3. Brand awareness

As companies include experiences in their marketing campaigns, customers can be immersed in the brand. This will increase their emotional connection with the brand, and thus their customer experience, loyalty, and brand will improve.

Before the Barbie movie came out, I would not consider myself a Barbie fan. However, I did dress up, and I enjoyed the movie. If they made another Barbie movie, I would go see it. I am an example of increased customer loyalty.

At Awardco, we prioritize our events because of the environment they create, the loyal customer relationships we can build, and the brand we get to represent.

From our Recognize event last November, one of our attendees named Victoria posted on LinkedIn saying, “The kindness that the Awardco team treated us with felt like seeing old friends– so warm and welcoming. I feel invigorated and ready… to bring employees a [recognition] program that… [we] can be proud of!” Victoria had a positive experience with Awardco at the event, and they are now such loyal customers. We created an Awardco environment that built a customer relationship that goes beyond the two-day event.

Furthermore, from one of our previous events, an attendee offered to host one of our events at their headquarters. Now, as we take our Recognize events on tour around the United States, we have loyal customers who want to host for us, help us create a positive environment, and invite their friends. We’ve built that trust within our brand that other companies want to host and represent us to their local community, businesses, and friends. 

Lean Into Experiential Marketing

Experiential marketing is becoming the most relevant marketing tactic in influencing customer relationships. People want experiences; they want to feel something when thinking about your brand. You can maximize experiential marketing in your company by implementing an idea, following up on leads, and reaping the benefits!

Savannah Travis
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An avid lover of running, baking, and practicing yoga, Savannah is an extrovert who loves making every moment matter through events and experiences. She is studying Experience Design and Management for her bachelor's degree and strives to make people the focus of all she does at work and at home.