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What the hell is experiential marketing? Honestly, I’d never heard of it myself until my boss mentioned it to me. That’s the thing about internships – you learn so much outside of the classroom, too.

After doing some of my own research, I found out that I actually did know what it was. Experiential marketing is an advertising strategy that focuses on helping customers experience a brand through an event. In fact, there are tons of examples of experiential marketing out there that I’m sure you’ve seen.

From a marketing standpoint, the goal is always to get as many people as possible to see your product or service. Experiential marketing differs from regular marketing because it leverages the unique vehicle of “physical presence” vs. other forms of marketing that are less personal.

Here’s how some brands are changing the game with experiential marketing and how you can, too.

How Red Bull Changed Experiential Marketing

Before Red Bull, experiential marketing was popular but it still had room for growth. Red Bull did more than just grow experiential marketing; it set a precedent. Red Bull took sports that weren’t mainstream at the time, such as BMX, snowboarding, and motocross, and decided to sponsor the athletes. Red Bull built an empire of energy drink fanatics that started with well-coordinated event marketing programs using these athletes and these sports as the main attraction. They didn’t take a conservative approach, and, in fact, they’ve rarely done anything conservative.

This quickly blew up and changed these sports, and experiential marketing, forever. Just think about how many athletes you see now with the Red Bull logo on their helmet or car. Think about all these little kids growing up that want to be sponsored by Red Bull. Red Bull absolutely crushed this experiential marketing campaign and it will go down as one of the best experiential marketing campaigns ever.

My Top 10 Experiential Marketing Campaigns

With Red Bull being the standard for all experiential marketing campaigns, it’s a no brainer that they’re #1. So, for fairness, I decided to leave them off of the list and instead take a look at some other brands that are making moves with experiential marketing.

Here’s a look at my top 10 experiential marketing campaign (not in any particular order):

  1. Refinery 29: 29 Rooms
  2. Lean Cuisine: #WeightThis
  3. Volkswagen: Piano Staircase
  4. Google: Building a Better Bay Area
  5. Misereor: Charity Donation Billboard
  6. Guinness: Guinness Class
  7. GE: Healthymagination
  8. Facebook: Facebook IQ Live
  9. Zappos: Google Cupcake Ambush
  10. Docker: Door Dash

Each of these experiential marketing campaigns stands out from the competition in its own right. Just take a look. Personally, my favorite out of all 10 of these campaigns was Google’s campaign. I liked theirs because it was a creative way to get the whole community involved in giving back to a cause of their choice. I thought that the concept was awesome and the way that Google executed it was flawless.

Key Elements to a Successful Experiential Marketing Campaign

Experiential Marketing isn’t easy, but after doing some extensive research, once I figured out what it was, obviously, I found four simple steps to help you improve your experiential marketing campaign.

      1. Sensory Integration: Yes, I’m talking about the 5 senses. This sounds simple but it really does work. People who attend these events in person and get to use their 5 senses are much more likely to remember the experience. You need to provide ways for customers to see, touch, smell, feel and even taste, in order for them to remember the event and your brand. Give out samples of your products (and food too), have music in the background and make the memory of the event stick with the customer.
      2. Interaction: Experiential marketing can be essentially drilled down to one on one engagement between brands and audiences. This, in turn, creates a meaningful interaction which is an essential part of the marketing campaign. Product demonstrations are one of the most authentic and interactive ways to describe your brand’s benefits. You can even use real-time technology, like live-streaming, social media and photo booths. If a consumer can’t be there in person, online Interaction can get the community talking and spreading the word about your product or service.
      3. Emotional Impact: Experiential marketing is all about creating and initiating mutually beneficial relationships. Establishing an emotional connection is a crucial first step in making relationships like these work. Really, it’s a crucial first step in any relationship. Anyways, making your campaign memorable will leave people talking after your event is over. Entertainment is a sure fire way to draw in crowds, so concentrate on making things fun and unique. Personal connections matter, and with so many impersonal ads out there, experiential marketing becomes a channel with the potential to increase that much needed personal touch. Harness the power of nostalgia where you can and embed your brand into your guest’s memories. This is a great way to trigger an emotional response to your campaign.
      4. Relatability: There’s no need for a barrier to exist between brands and customers. Brands are becoming more and more authentic by providing consumers with face-to-face interaction, as well as being vulnerable and open to listening. Experiential marketing allows these sorts of opportunities to come to life organically. This then creates authentic connections between people. Forget the pushy sales tactics and focus on building an inbound awareness of your brand to build a  genuine relationship. Don’t forget about the importance of integrating authentic brand ambassadors that speak your language; they’re the ones that echo your corporate identity to consumers. Being relatable and accessible is the living embodiment of what a brand ambassador should be.

The Value of Experiential Marketing and How to Actually Pull it Off

Experiential marketing is a key component of many successful businesses. Just think Red Bull. You want to get people to remember this event and have a good experience so that they can associate it with your brand. While it takes some time and effort to execute, the value of experiential marketing is limitless for your company and goals.

There’s no standard formula for creating the perfect experiential marketing campaign, but, at DSM, we know a thing or two about successful, integrative marketing campaigns. This advice can help lead you to the right path and lead customers right to you. After all, an event is worth a thousand words. That’s the new saying.

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