When you strip it all down to its most essential bits, the most important thing about marketing is the ‘conversation’ that happens between you and your customer. The way that conversation takes place is the reason why we have the field of marketing. The best marketers are experts at getting people talking so that they are learning about one another, building a relationship, feeling loyal to one another in that relationship and trusting one another.

So, when you ask yourself if something like experiential marketing is the right choice for your brand, it’s important to go back to the beginning.

What Is a Brand?

Dumb question, right? Well, not really. We knock around these terms, like ‘brand identity,’ but when we use (or overuse) them, we lose touch with the heart of what it’s about.

Fundamentally, a brand is your story, the very essence of it, the way you can differentiate it from all other stories (or brands). It’s uniquely yours, even if your industry is glutted with brands somewhat like yours, there is no other brand exactly like yours. It’s your story. So, if you need to, revisit it. Go back and ask the core questions:

  • What makes us completely unique?
  • Why did we start this company?
  • What inspired us?
  • Who are the people who use our products?
  • Does anyone else offer a product like ours?
  • In what way are they stronger or weaker than us?

Don’t assume it’s intrinsic in all your ideas about marketing, this notion of your brand. Reconnect with your brand and solidify your thoughts around what it stands for and what it is. Then decide what the best strategy is for competing in your segment of the marketplace. Think about the customers you aim to connect with and how you intend to build lasting and deep relationships with them.

What Is Experiential Marketing?

So, you’ve reconnected to your core brand story. It’s time then to think about strategy.

Experiential marketing is a kind of synergistic evolution of this idea of traditional marketing — of that conversation. We know a lot about audiences today because we (as an industry) do a lot of studies on the market, we observe it and analyze the data we gather. We know passivity no longer works. Audiences today need experience, they need immersion in the experiencing of that marketing conversation in order to feel something. And we definitely want them to feel something.

We want them affected. We want them to believe in us, in our special, original, and unique brand story. We want them to see the value of our product or service in their life. We want them to believe we care about them, about what they value. We want them to hold on to us and stick with us and come back to us — to talk about us, promote us, be our champions out there in the world well beyond where we can go on our own. We want a relationship with these people, our customers.

Experiential marketing adds depth to that conversation. It takes the connection from passive to engaged, to belonging, and connected.

Ninety-three percent admit when they actually experience a marketing event, it means a lot more to them and will influence how they respond. That is a critical thing to consider. What’s more, 74 percent say when they engage in a branded experiential-marketing event they are more likely to buy the thing. That’s solid. Then there’s this: 98 percent will create social media content about a brand when they attend and experience a marketing event.

When you make practical choices about your marketing strategy and the return on that investment, you want every penny, effort, and action to matter. We know that for Gen Z, for Millennials, for Gen X, even for baby boomers, experience is where it’s at — it binds them to your brand in far deeper ways.

Experiential Marketing Tactics to Try in 2020

  1. Challenges — Make it a contest, a competition that engages play, fun, and meeting other people. Make it memorable. Make it shareable.
  2. Extended reality (XR) — This combines augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR). The immersive technologies make the experience last and take it to another level that is very personal.
  3. ‘Stayable’ events — This elevates the live event to one that lasts over a longer period and offers countless opportunities to build activities, connections, and the collection of data on your customers.
  4. Installations — Pop-ups are here to stay, but be creative this time: Make it an installation where you collaborate with local artists or designers as a way to re-create the experience of old-fashioned grassroots marketing on the ground. Take it to another level using technology to expand it out on the web.
  5. Advocacy — Especially for Millennials and Gen Z, advocacy has a powerful impact on how they make choices even about their purchases. Use this strategy to create value-based experiences that showcase your brand’s alignment with the ideals of your customers.

Evaluating whether experiential marketing will work for your brand takes time, in-depth knowledge of what your brand is and aspires to be, and how you engage, and hope to engage, with your customers. It may not be for every company or brand, but if experiential marketing is a fit for your business, be bold, be creative, and get that customer conversation going.

Image source: mahdis mousavi