Ultimate Guide to Experiential Marketing

This guide will introduce you to experiential marketing, including how it can fit into your business’s overall marketing strategy, & take advantage of it to engage our new ‘hands-on’ culture.

You’ll learn about:

  • How to implement an experiential marketing strategy
  • Famous experiential marketing examples
  • How to measure the ROI of an experiential marketing campaign
  • And more!

No matter what product or service your business offers, there’s one definite ‘need’ for success: you need to be noticed by customers – and get noticed quickly.

According to a new study from Microsoft, people tend to lose concentration after only 8 seconds.

If you think that’s no reason to worry, consider the goldfish – their attention span lasts 9 seconds.

In many cases, you’d get a better response marketing to an aquatic animal.

The problem isn’t you or your business though – it’s simply the way the human mind copes with our increasingly digital lifestyle.

Studies suggest that the phenomena of ever-increasing information overload and ever-shortening business cycles is negatively affecting our attention span. And reduced attention spans are bad news for marketers and our ability to execute effective business strategies.

So… what kinds of solutions are being offered to counter this short attention span?

That’s where Experience Marketing comes in.

Experience marketing helps you stand out from the crowd (or a busy trade show floor).

Also known as ‘experiential marketing’, this is the process of ensuring your leads and customers focus on what your business has to offer by using real-world experiences to attract and engage them.

And the more novel and multi-sensory this experience is, the better.

The more engaged a person becomes with your experiential marketing, the better.

Now stating that’s one thing… putting it into action is another – so let’s find out how to put your brand on the map & make your product/service stand out with this Ultimate Guide to Experiential Marketing.

Section 1

What is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing links the art of selling with the science of marketing in order to engage and captivate potential customers.

By using the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of a product (or service) and demonstrating that USP in a live, captivating way, buyers can become engaged and develop an affinity for the brand that’d otherwise be very difficult to achieve from a screen or brochure.

Think about it: would you rather read about the nice features of a massage chair… or sit in it for 15 minutes and see what it can do?

Would you rather thumb through pictures of the new iPhone… or pick it up and try out some of the new apps?

When it comes to experiential marketing, little is left to the imagination for the consumer.

When successful, it takes buyers down a path that results in a greater desire for your business’s offerings, increasing enterprise value by creating customers who trust in your brand and always want more.

“Experiential marketing is a discipline that links the art of selling with the science of marketing to engage and captivate potential customers.”

Section 2

Why Experiential Marketing?

Marketing is just as trendy as any industry. Strategies are constantly changing, updating through research and adapting based on public perception (& public reaction). 

For example, in the early days of marketing, simply stating “Hey, WE’RE the best!!” would likely bring you some sales, but customers soon grew wise to this (those were the easy days!).

Nowadays, calling your product or service the ‘best’ doesn’t phase a consumer one bit, so superlative statements like these get ignored. 

The internet’s a major culprit behind this because of all the information & education it provides a consumer – in fact, today’s average person has access to more information than the President of the United States did in 1990. 

That’s HUGE!

Every day, thousands of products & offers flash before a customer’s eyes, and every single one claims to be the ‘best’… but none are considered ‘special’.

The way to make your product, service, and business truly special is to personally & deeply engage with the customer. 

You can’t tell them you’re the best – you’ve got to show them, helping them to discover the advantages your product/service offers over any & everyone else. 

If it sounds challenging… well, it IS. 

But that’s also where experiential marketing steps in to bridge that gap.

“The way to make your product, service, and business truly special is to personally & deeply engage with the customer.”

Section 3

Your Experiential Marketing Strategy Plan

It’s likely you already have some type of marketing strategy plan (any business that doesn’t is probably on a fast track to failure).

However, most businesses don’t have any sort of existing marketing strategy plan that incorporates ideas for experiential marketing; after all, it’s a fairly new concept. But having some sort of approach to this area of marketing is critical, & really needs to be integrated into your marketing mix.

So… how can you do this?

For starters, establish who your buying audience is and build around the “something” that appeals to them. 

For example, if your business sells cigars, there will be a certain demographic that has the potential to be interested in your services – think hipsters, Wall Street types, older guys. 

You won’t attract that kind of demographic with cartoons or kids’ toys.

You need to know who you are talking to in order to determine how to talk to them and what may appear attractive to them.

You’ll also need to make a point of your USP, educating the customer on what problem you can solve for them.

“You need to know who you are talking to in order to determine how to talk to them and what may appear attractive to them.”

Imagine handing your newest widget to a bunch of prospects… and it doesn’t turn on.

You need to know who you are talking to in order to determine how to talk to them and what may appear attractive to them.

You’ll also need to make a point of your USP, educating the customer on what problem you can solve for them. 

More importantly, you’ll need to determine where experiential marketing can be used in your product/service line for maximum impact, giving the greatest return for your efforts.

The return itself may not necessarily be financial either, and that’s ok – you’ll have to determine what “success” looks like for your own individual company. 

The major difference between an experiential marketing campaign and a standard marketing campaign is the engagement and interactivity. 

Humans are much more likely to engage with a person, a brand, or a product if they can see it in the real world.

Would you rather see a commercial for a video game… or strap on a headset & jump into an immersive VR world that takes you through some of the levels?

Don’t go into any experiential marketing campaign with reservations. You must know that you can go at it 100%, that your product really CAN stand up to scrutiny, that it really IS something special.

Section 4

How to Measure Experiential Marketing

In traditional marketing campaigns, ROI’s easy enough to calculate. There’s a certain amount of money invested in a campaign, and the return is calculated based on that figure and the revenue that comes in from sales directly related to the campaign.

With experiential marketing, results aren’t always as clear-cut, because instead of ‘clicks’ or ‘impressions’, these campaigns are designed to stick in the mind of a prospect and create long-term awareness of the brand.

So if you can’t track your page views or coupon codes, how can you track it? 

More often than not, experiential marketing campaigns are measured through metrics like ROO (Return On Objectives) or ROR (Return On Relationships). 

Common metrics to measure include:

  • Message conveyance
  • Awareness building
  • Brand enhancement 

But as we’re considering how to measure experiential marketing success, there’s an even simpler way to do this: conduct surveys with visitors before the show, during the show, and post-show.

Their changing opinions will demonstrate how effective your exhibit has been and how effective your brand enhancement attempts have been.

Utilizing your CRM to track any contacts made during your advertising campaign will also help you to understand the effect your experiential marketing has.

Checking on these contacts several months later to see how they’ve progressed through your sales pipeline will give you feedback on the efficacy of the marketing.

Even better, based on your interactions at a show (along with observations of other exhibitors), there’s a strong chance you’ll return with ideas for new products or enhancements to existing ones. These kinds of insights will match with current trends and customer requirements, giving you the opportunity to create the products that customers really want to buy.

Section 5

Experiential Events

Experience marketing is becoming more popular all the time, and discovering new ways to make an impression on an audience will be the factor that makes the difference for business over the coming years.

Experiential events will leave an even bigger lasting impression on your customers, whether they’re part of an exhibition or a standalone event.

Your business needs to be able to create moments for customers, so 6 months later, they still say things like, “Hey, remember when this cool thing happened at that trade show??” The simple fact they remember the event and associate it with your business will only bring good things.

“Experiential events will leave an even bigger lasting impression on your customers, whether they’re part of an exhibition or a standalone event.”

How many times have you been to a forgettable trade show? 

Every stand looks the same, every product is still the “best”… and nobody really engages. 

If you’re the solitary exhibitor who stands out, you’ll be remembered. 

If everyone is making the effort to stand out, but YOUR product manages to make an impression on the most people, then consider the event a success.

Section 6

Getting Your Max ROI with Experiential Marketing

It’s the million-dollar marketing question: where and how can you achieve the maximum impact?

You can start by reaching the greatest amount of qualified people – if you go to where your demographic hangs out, that’s a start. For some this will be inside a certain store, for others it will be out on the street. Maybe it’s at niche conventions or even specific online forums.

But for the majority of us, a trade show is the place to go.

Trade shows are usually targeted at a particular need or demographic; for example homewares, clothing, industrial machinery. For every niche need, there will be an exhibition.

And many, many, many people attend trade shows & events worldwide all year round. If you exhibit at a show that specifically speaks to the demographic you’re targeting, you’ll have ample opportunity for lead generation.

Capitalizing on this concentration of potential prospects sets you up for a great ROI. You’ll have an opportunity to measure your ROO and ROR and impact many people at once.

Simply copying what everyone ELSE at your show does will simply help you to blend in- definitely not the intended result.

Think outside the box when it comes to experiential marketing.

What’s something you can do with your product that no one has thought of?

For that, let’s take a look at some of the more famous recent experiential marketing campaigns.

Section 7

Examples of

Experiential Marketing Campaigns

There are a number of companies who have taken experiential marketing to heart, and have created amazing marketing campaigns that draw people in & send their sales through the roof.

Volkswagen believed that people would want to do something if it looks like fun. To test this theory, they changed a staircase in a Swedish subway into a piano keyboard. As people touched the steps, different notes sounded. 

Volkswagen believed that people would want to do something if it looks like fun. To test this theory, they changed a staircase in a Swedish subway into a piano keyboard. As people touched the steps, different notes sounded. 

According to their research, 66% more people chose the stairs instead of any other means of entering of leaving the subway. You can imagine what this did for the Volkwagon brand when this idea went viral.

Another fun example is the promotion of the Ghostbusters movie at Waterloo Station in London. An installation depicting the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man bursting through the floor drew great attention and had people discussing the movie more than ever before.

Miseroer developed a strategy for engaging people to donate to charity using SocialSwipe digital billboards. 

A picture of a loaf of bread was displayed, with a request for a donation to help relieve hunger – the boards had a built-in card reader. When a passerby swiped their card, the loaf was depicted as being sliced. This left an impression on those who used the billboard, and those nearby who witnessed it.

Later on, when the person who donated received their bank statement, there’d be a thank you note from Miseroer and a link to turn their donation into a monthly repeating donation.

Because there’d already been engagement, it was much easier to gain monthly donations vs. asking for them from a cold email.

WaterAid used screens within lockers used by swimmers to demonstrate how people without clean water were affected.

The question was asked, “Do you want the coin back that you reserved the locker with, or do you want to donate it?” – you can guess the outcome.

Not even kids are exempt from experiential marketing. 

The children’s TV show Doc McStuffin was promoted by Disney by taking over areas of toy stores and changing them to look like the clinic in the show.

Not even kids are exempt from experiential marketing. 

The children’s TV show Doc McStuffin was promoted by Disney by taking over areas of toy stores and changing them to look like the clinic in the show.

Children were then given a 10-minute experience where they could help diagnose the ailments of a large teddy bear. This interactive exhibit in turn upped the sales of Doc McStuffin-related merchandise by over 5%.

In 2013, Adidas opened a pop-up store with NBA player Derrick Rose watching on. 

Fans could win a pair of free shoes – all they had to do was take them off of a 10-feet high shelf. Highly interactive and very memorable, Adidas associated their company with great shoes, a famous sportsman, and tremendous fun.

With experience marketing, you don’t even necessarily need people to come to YOU.

Remember when Felix Baumgartner set a skydiving record by leaping from the edge of space… and it was sponsored by Red Bull?

The event drew in some of the highest figures ever recorded for a YouTube livestream, and the drama of the day was unforgettable.

Seen around the world, brand awareness of Red Bull rocketed to an all-time high.

Section 8

Experiential Marketing & Word of Mouth

Research has shown that there are many factors involved in customers making purchasing decisions, including all of the standard marketing channels. By far, the most influential factor is word-of-mouth.

Experiential marketing gives people something to talk about.

If an individual has a great, engaging experience with your brand, they’ll want to talk about it. A customer who’s had this kind of experience will become an unofficial brand ambassador for you, recommending you to everyone they talk to.

It’s like a free salesperson! 

This has a dual impact of spreading your message loud and clear, while also making that customer a super fan.

If you have a brand fanatic, they’ll talk about your products to anyone who will listen.

Experience marketing lends itself to making fans for your brand, and a brand with many fans is likely to be highly successful.

Coming up with marketing ideas for your business will once again rely on who your target audience is and the problems you’re solving for them. 

This doesn’t mean you need to hit both spots, though.

In the Red Bull skydiving event, there was no problem ‘solved’ by a man jumping through the sky – but Red Bull attracted a certain demographic with the event.

The live stream was provided through YouTube, a service that around 96% of 18-24-year-old Americans use, and reaches more American 18-34-year-old people than any TV network. 

Go where the market is – the ideal prospect already uses YouTube, so why not take advantage of it? 

Red Bull also targeted those who enjoy extreme sports, which tend to be a similar demographic to those who use YouTube, and with one of the most memorable events in recent memory (a record breaking skydive), they certainly made it an experience to remember.

And of course, any time replays are shown, the Red Bull branding is clear for all to see.

Your ideas don’t have to be as extreme as reaching the edges of the planet’s atmosphere, but finding something that appeals to your ideal customer and provides a little ‘Wow’ factor will achieve amazing results.

Provide interactivity where possible, but above all try and make it fun. 

Section 9

How to Find Great Experiential Marketing Companies

Event marketing companies will help you to plan these interactive events where your business meets face-to-face with potential customers, and can help you avoid the pitfalls associated with these types of engagements.

They’ll ensure that the people who visit your display will experience an event to remember. 

Partly due to their experience in the field, but also backed up with extensive research into the needs of your audience, the best experiential marketing agencies know what resonates with any type of consumer.

Exhibitshub can help you with this, by connecting you with experiential marketing companies that lay out a plan for you & your business at your next trade show.

Using Exhibitshub, you can connect with experiential marketing companies that constantly monitor your ROI, and help you discover ways to reduce the costs incurred from building a custom exhibit.

They’ll also help you engage customers, widen your brand appeal, and reduce the typical exhibit planning cycle from months down to weeks, as you don’t have to custom-build an entire display.

You can take a structure that already ‘works’, rebrand it, and save both time and money.

The money you save from using these shared exhibit structures can then be put towards more of your experiential marketing activities.

With a well-planned experiential marketing strategy, you can find ways to break through the noise of a busy trade show floor and leave a lasting impression on your prospects.

Remember: trade shows are where your potential customers go, and presenting an engaging and fun experience to them will pay off huge.

If you’re looking for an experiential marketing company to help put together a plan for an upcoming trade show (or even looking for a new exhibit to help reach your event marketing goals) check out Exhibitshub.

Hopefully this guide helped you start planning out your experiential marketing strategy.

We’d love to hear effective campaigns that you’ve seen.

What are some of your favorite experiential marketing campaigns you’ve dealt with?

What’s the coolest use of a new technology that has helped elevate a new product or service?

Let us know by leaving a quick comment below right now.