A Small Business Guide to Experiential Marketing
With so much competition from other businesses, it’s more important than ever before for small brands to use innovative marketing strategies to stay afloat. This is why many small businesses are attracted to experiential marketing.
So, what exactly does experiential marketing mean, and how can your small business take advantage of this type of marketing? In this guide, you’ll find out what experiential marketing means, discover how it can benefit your business, and learn how to use it effectively to build your brand.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing is an exciting approach to marketing that helps consumers experience a brand more fully through interactive and fun experiences. From product sampling and stunts through to popup shops and live events, experiential campaigns cover a broad range of marketing tactics to suit businesses from all industries.
Through immersive experiences, businesses can boost engagement with their products and services, build customer relationships, and create a lasting, positive impression with customers.
A Brief History of Experiential Marketing
The origins of experiential marketing strategies date back to the beginning of branding. There are many examples throughout history, but here are a few highlights – beginning in the nineteenth century:
In 1892, Wrigley’s chewing gum was originally a free gift, given away with each sale of its baking powder to create a more memorable brand experience. The gum was so popular, it became the company’s main product.
During the 1920s, General Motors and Ford Motor Company boosted their popularity by staging a series of car shows, giving potential customers the excitement of a live event to showcase their products.
Forward to 1936, and to promote the family’s hot dog brand, Oscar Mayer’s nephew built the Wienermobile, a 13-foot-long vehicle shaped like a hot dog. A driver took the vehicle around the streets of Chicago, handing out toy whistles shaped like the Wienermobile to build brand awareness.
By the 1970s, street marketing became more widespread. The Miller Lite Taste Challenge and the Pepsi Challenge showed how brands could take advantage of live, interactive experiences to reach a broad demographic of consumers and provide a memorable brand experience.
What Are the Benefits of Experiential Marketing?
The experiential marketing approach has a number of benefits for small businesses:
Unlike other marketing strategies, experiential campaigns enable audiences to interact with your business, products, and services in a real-life setting, connecting you to people that would otherwise never discover you online. Crucially, live experiences are eye-catching; people remember the brand that made it happen, even if they only hear about it on social media.
Experiential marketing also has the ability to stimulate the senses of your audience through touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound that helps to form memorable moments.
People Can Try Your Products
In a real-life setting, potential customers get the opportunity to try your products before they buy. Service providers can also get involved by offering demonstrations and free trials.
Get to Know Your Audience
Experiencing consumers trying your product or service is a powerful form of market research. You can learn about what people like about your products and services and find ways to make improvements. Online conversations based around your live experience can also be tracked.
Experiential marketing is also a form of word-of-mouth marketing, which is one of the most powerful forms of advertising. When people have a positive experience with your brand, they’re likely to tell their friends and colleagues – offline and online.
Boost Your Social Media Efforts
Incorporating your experiential event into your social media messages is a great way to build brand awareness online and extend your reach to a wider audience.
Foster Brand Loyalty
When people have an experience with a brand in real life, it triggers an emotional connection to the brand that can’t be matched by other forms of marketing. Connecting with customers on a deeper emotional level is a great way to cultivate brand loyalty.
Grab the Attention of Local Media
Local media outlets love to cover special marketing events. The more creative you are, the more chance you have of grabbing their attention.
Experiential Marketing Best Practices
There are many different types of experiential marketing, but here are a few guidelines to make any experiential campaign more effective:
- Be creative. Your event should be special and interesting to build excitement.
- Involve your team in the creation process and consider working with an outside marketing agency to build and execute an effective experience.
- Encourage participation. Offer samples, host a competition, or run a live poll to get your audience involved in the event.
- Set Goals. Whether it’s gaining new email subscribers or making a certain number of sales, set targets so you can measure the results of your efforts. You can then use the results as a benchmark for future events.
- Use your social media channels to promote the event in advance, update your followers during the event, and to share content looking back on the event.
Experiential Marketing Ideas
There are various ways you can use experiential marketing to connect with consumers. Here are 12 ideas to help get you started:
- A product demo.
- A sample giveaway.
- A question-and-answer session.
- A class or workshop.
- A live video event.
- A site tour.
- A fundraising event for charity.
- A popup shop.
- A product launch.
- A product test and customer survey.
- A raffle.
- An in-store music event.
Whichever path you take, what matters is that the event leaves a lasting impression on consumers. To support your efforts, it’s also important to link your experiential marketing event to your content marketing efforts, including social media. A branded hashtag, for example, will get people talking about your live experience.
Set Yourself Apart from the Competition with Experiential Marketing
Experiential marketing is growing in popularity because it gives businesses the opportunity to deliver unique experiences to consumers and quickly generate brand awareness. In a crowded market, it’s a simple way to differentiate yourself from the competition by creating an experience that is fun, memorable, and attention-grabbing.
Whether you choose to schedule a monthly product demo, or host a summer charity fundraiser, the more experiences you can offer throughout the year, the more memorable your business will become.