Event marketing can be viewed in different ways. Some first think of conferences and tradeshows with people bustling about a showroom floor in-between sessions, speakers and networking breaks. Others probably have an idea of passing booth after booth with someone asking at each if you need a brochure.
But for the lucky, there’s experiential marketing, which goes far beyond event marketing and turns an event into an interactive opportunity to better immerse customers in your brand. For example, recreating Disney’s Doc McStuffin’s clinic where kids got a 10-minute immersive experience where they took the role of Doc and diagnosed what was wrong with Big Ted or escaping a cold dungeon to promote the next season of Game of Thrones.
The Impact of Experiential
There has been a shift from audiences watching to audiences doing because consumers unquestionably desire experiences. When consumers seek—and often expect—additional utility from the brands they patronize, this is known as the experience economy, where “a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event."
Event marketing’s one-way style of communication can build awareness for your brand. But to truly inspire brand advocates the experiential route is best for building positive brand association and growing your relationship with your audience. Whether it’s a party, a festival, a company event or a team member meeting, today’s audiences want to be a part of the action. A study by Harris Group found that 72% of millennials prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material things.
Experiential marketing provides direct engagement with the desired audience and creatively interacting with them in a memorable way. It’s all the more impactful when brands offer something of actual value to the customer, whether it be a free product or newfound knowledge. Best of all, experiential marketing is proven to boost event ROI and is a crucial strategy for marketing executives.
Every guest at an experiential marketing event will walk away with a unique memory of the individual experience they had.
To see how immersive event experiences can make an impact, check out these 3 outstanding examples of experiential marketing and the companies getting in on the action.
Airbnb recently launched Airbnb Experiences, a feature that encourages people to “embrace the unexpected” by trying new things in new places. From pasta making classes in Milan to salsa lessons in Miami, every experience is vetted by Airbnb and designed and led by inspiring locals. They go beyond typical tours or classes by immersing guests in each host’s unique world. It’s an opportunity for anyone to share their hobbies, skills or expertise without needing an extra room.
Connecting customers with local insight helps make these cultural touchpoints more authentic—and travelers remember that as something they can get with Airbnb.
Cadillac Brand Experience Center
Cadillac recently opened a center in New York called Cadillac House. The 12,000-square-foot space gives consumers a look inside the brand, within the context of a larger culture. Mostly used to house its strategy, finance and communications departments, the grand offices on the top two floors of a West SoHo tower are meant to imbue the rejuvenated Detroit luxury brand with the trendy vitality of New York City, as well as the cosmopolitan east coast talent that lives here. Cadillac describes it as “a meeting place where innovators, creators and the curious can find inspiration—and one another.”
In addition to hosting events and showcasing vehicles, Cadillac House is also used for art galleries, film screenings and tech-talk events. You’ll never spot a salesperson onsite, though. It’s staffed entirely by brand ambassadors. This soft-sell approach lets visitors naturally associate the brand with a fun, immersive experience.
Levi’s Pop-Up Studios
Trying on jeans can be an emotionally stressful experience. Setting out to shop for the perfect pair is perhaps one of the most daunting tasks any woman can be faced with. It's not easy; it's actually really, really difficult.
Levi’s recognized this dilemma so many women go through, so when it launched its new Curve ID jeans, the focus was on empowerment. The company brought pop-up studios to college campuses and custom-fit students with jeans that made them look and feel great. Mini makeovers completed the experience, and coeds left feeling strong, confident and overall happy with their new look. (Remember that an experiential campaign can consist of multiple forms of engagement. Don’t restrict yourself to only one channel of interaction with customers.)
Sure, Levi’s could’ve just handed out coupons for free jeans and people would’ve snapped them up like they were going out of style. But this more hands-on approach addressed a distinct, emotional pain point and transformed it into a positive experience. That’s an experience customers won’t soon forget—and that will keep them coming back for more.
Experiment with Experiential
When it comes to creating an experience with your brand, never be afraid to think big and push the boundaries.
Experiential marketing is meant to leave an impression, so constantly push yourself and test the limits of your creativity—don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
Like the brands listed, invest some time into thinking about the ways people could interact authentically with your brand. If it’s aligned with what you do and executed thoughtfully—people will be talking.
Find out how you can incorporate immersive, experiential marketing with your next campaign with advice and tips from our ebook.