People don’t always respond well to conventional marketing strategies like social media posts, television ads and online banners. Many individuals see so much of that content during a typical day that they tune it out. That’s one of the many reasons why marketers often decide to pursue experiential marketing approaches instead.
It involves giving people exciting and interesting experiences that are sometimes only loosely related to a brand. Those interactions help participants focus on having fun and doing something different instead of feeling like marketers are solely trying to sell them things. Here are some thought-provoking reasons you should strongly consider bringing experiential marketing into your plans for growing or sustaining a brand’s success.
It Creates Built-In Purchase and Branding Opportunities
Experiential marketing can feature experiences that make people interested in buying from the brand immediately or later.
KFC Engages People With an App Game
In one pioneering example from 2013, KFC Australia representatives created an app-based game called “Snack! In the Face.” Players won prizes for saving the game’s popcorn chicken characters from a foe. They could then share them on social media or win one of the thousands of free snacks the restaurant brand gave away daily.
If a person won free food, there’s a good chance they’d purchase something to go along with it, such as a side order or a beverage. Even if someone didn’t get something for free, sharing their prizes on social media promotes the brand. It could also get the person’s friends in the mood for some fast food from the chicken establishment.
Pepsi Reminds People of Its Pop Music Connections
A more recent example involved Pepsi installing dance pods at Pennsylvania’s Hersheypark. A person could go into one of the booths and record a short music video synched to their personalized avatar.
This effort links Pepsi back to its enduring pop culture history. Ray Charles and Britney Spears are some of the iconic music stars who helped promote the brand in the past. Moreover, Pepsi has been the official Super Bowl halftime show sponsor since 2013, and that event often features music superstars.
The theme park installation entices visitors with an apparel store and a cooler full of Pepsi products. Those features could drive the brand’s profits. The experience is free, but people must reserve spots.
Think about how you could do the same with your efforts. It’s not necessary to make them as extravagant as these examples. The key is to develop ways to get people interested in purchasing or promoting your brand, even if not right away.
It Helps People Have Positive Brand Associations
You probably put a lot of effort into attracting new customers, but are you as dedicated to keeping them? In a 2020 study, 93% of people believed retaining customers was as important as acquiring them. Experiential marketing could help keep customers feeling delighted and eager to continue showing loyalty.
Think about your happiest memories, and there’s a good chance most involve people and experiences rather than products. However, many can feature all three elements. For example, maybe you have a favorite pair of sunglasses that reminds you of taking a road trip with a best pal to go to a music festival.
A great thing about experiential marketing is that it can form and complement many of those nice memories. That’s why you may have seen branded experiences at sporting events, fairs and other fun happenings.
Take the time to consider some of the characteristics you’d most like people to associate with your brand. Then, expand that exercise by pondering how to connect those to enjoyable experiences. Some could even happen in a person’s home. For example, if your company sells gourmet salsa, give them recipe ideas to use for an upcoming party.
It Allows Collecting Valuable Metrics
Knowing your audience and their preferences is essential for successful engagement. Customer segmentation is an excellent way to ensure people feel your marketing efforts are maximally relevant to them. It involves splitting the audience into specific groups based on their location, gender, age or other demographics.
Research indicates that as many as 95% of product introductions to the marketplace fail each year. That’s mostly due to poor segmentation. Fortunately, experiential marketing can help you figure out how to get the best results from a product launch and other valuable takeaways.
Experiential marketing in a world where COVID-19 remains a threat will require new approaches to keep people safe during in-person experiences. That might mean you limit the number of guests using an installation at any given time and build the layout so that it naturally keeps people far enough apart.
In such cases, you could take an approach similar to what Pepsi did above and not allow walk-up guests. A registration form could collect details such as:
- Email address
- Mailing address
That information helps you keep track of registrants, but it also gives an idea of the characteristics of people most interested in your experiences. Perhaps only 2% of registered guests are over 50, and 78% of them are female. You could use those statistics to aid market segmentation and target people appropriately.
The statistics could help you later decide how, when and to whom to market your products or services. That’s especially true if your experiential campaign offers free samples or you encourage people to use a special social media hashtag when they post content about your experience.
It Can Strengthen Community Ties To a Brand
You can also explore how to encourage a community to take part in your experiential marketing efforts. In one recent case, the Girl Scouts partnered with a Washington, D.C. neighborhood called The Yards to host its first-ever Cookie Jamboree event. One of the main goals was to help the organization sell more boxes of its famous treats despite the challenges caused by the pandemic.
The summer camp-themed event let people of all ages make friendship bracelets, participate in relay races and do other fun activities. Local restaurants also took part in the event by making Girl Scouts-inspired beverages and competing in a contest to make the tastiest version.
People usually love to get photos from their memorable experiences. That’s why this Girl Scouts event had a woodlands backdrop for attendees to stand in front of before snapping pictures. It let them appear they were really attending camp in a remote location rather than an urban waterfront neighborhood.
Before moving ahead with any experiential marketing campaigns, determine whether feasible ways exist to get local businesses and residents involved. In this example, that wasn’t hard to do, especially since most people know the Girl Scouts and want to support the organization. If local parties become involved, you could partially depend on them to spread the word about an upcoming event and help people get more excited.
Experiential Marketing Could Grow Your Brand
These are just some of the many reasons why company decision-makers often choose to pursue experiential marketing. When it’s done well, you’ll naturally encourage people to think of your brand positively and have lasting memories without feeling like they’re getting a hard sell.