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Experiential marketing: what is it and why should it be part of your strategy?

Experiential marketing creates positive, memorable experiences and allows brands to connect with customers deeply. Here’s why it should be part of your strategy.

Parents with small children love experiential marketing – those local free events that occupy the kids for a few hours with crafts, face-painting, and balloon animals.

Grown-ups also love experiential marketing, whether it be a makeover at the cosmetic counter of a big department store, a free DIY evening, or the opening of a new wine cellar where you can get dressed up and sample some wares.

And that’s the point.

Experiential marketing creates positive, memorable experiences and allows brands to connect with customers deeply, in the places they live.

Here’s why so many brands are coming to the experiential marketing party, and how you can join in too.

What is experiential marketing?

Experiential marketing is sometimes called ‘hands-on marketing’, where customers actively participate in marketing activity, which promotes a brand or encourages sales.

Experiential marketing is based on the premise that the more fun people have interacting with a brand, the deeper their engagement and the more likely they will be to want to invite it into their lives.

What types of experiential marketing exist?

The type of experiential marketing a brand chooses is entirely dependent on their target demographic and what they like and will participate in, but broadly, experiential marketing falls into two categories: event marketing and guerilla marketing.

Event marketing

There’s a reason event marketing is such a popular form of experiential marketing: who doesn’t love a fun day out?

It might be the opening of a store, where you know there’ll be free balloons for the kids, face-painting, as well as product demonstrations, and maybe a free sausage sizzle. It might be a Christmas party hosted by a local shopping centre, where your kids can join in the festive fun. Or it could be the unveiling of a new season of fashion hosted by high-end retailers, where participants are treated to champagne and canapes.

Guerilla marketing campaigns

While events are advertised and put in diaries, guerrilla experiential marketing campaigns are a complete surprise.

These marketing campaigns are designed to grab attention and engage people who are surprised and delighted.

It might be a pop-up stall at the local train station, handing out free coffees from the newly-opened cafe; it might be a clown, making balloon animals for children, branded with the details of the local vet; it could be the Elvis impersonator encouraging passers-by to snap a selfie, while standing in front of a poster for the latest Elvis biopic.

What are some examples of experiential marketing?

Marketers love experiential marketing because it allows their creativity to run wild – and we’ve recently seen some rippers.

Last year, when Barbie was the only thing on anyone’s lips, the film’s promoter created the Barbie Selfie Generator, when you use an app to upload a pic of yourself, and suddenly, you become the Barbie logo.

Converse recently did something similar, but IRL. The shoe company created a Mobile Portrait Studio, which hit the streets and invited people to become part of their advertising campaign, displaying the images in local spaces.

Closer to home, Assemblo has been the company behind some of the most memorable and effective experiential marketing campaigns.

Kylie and Dannii Day was a celebration of the Minogue sisters and was a great way to celebrate the music of two local identities and bring people into Camberwell Junction. There was music, dancing – even a Kylie Minogue impersonator! The event engaged a local audience to promote the Camberwell Junction shopping precinct while celebrating two local icons.

We also created an immersive Halloween event for Elsternwick Village to drive shoppers to retail stores via a trick-or-treat trail, in-store activations, and an evening soiree that offered live entertainment and food stalls.

What are the benefits of experiential marketing?

Experiential marketing is more than a good time; their marketing benefits can be deep and long-lasting.

Here are some of the benefits of experiential marketing:

Increase brand awareness

Experiential marketing takes your brand and places it right in the centre of where people live, and where they enjoy themselves. Participants see your brand as part of their community; they associate it with fun.

Brand activation

These emotions stick with customers and are reignited when they next see your brand – the brand isn’t just recognised, it’s experienced again and again.

Pop-up shops

Temporary stalls, stands or retail outlets aren’t just great forms of experiential marketing, they can actually drive sales. Sure, you might be handing out free coffee, but how many of those morning commuters are also going to buy a croissant or muffin?

Why you should include experiential marketing in your strategy

There are some great reasons why marketers should include experiential marketing in their marketing strategies.

Experiential marketing boosts brand awareness

Put simply, the more customers are aware of your brand, the more likely that brand will stick in their minds when they’re ready to make a purchase. Experiential marketing is a great way to increase brand awareness.

Experiential marketing strengthens customer loyalty

Any parent who has taken their children to a Christmas activity at a local shopping centre, and everyone with an interest in home improvement who has attended a free DIY session, knows that these forms of experiential marketing don’t just raise brand awareness, they elicit emotions such as gratitude and solidarity, which increase brand loyalty.

Experiential marketing improves engagement

Experiential marketing takes brand awareness to the next level by planting the association of that brand with a fun event and happy experience, deepening that bond between brand and customer.

Experiential marketing can go viral

Some forms of experiential marketing can take on a life of their own. Think of the Barbie Selfie Generator – it quickly went viral on social media, resulting in customers actually expanding the marketing activity themselves.

Speak to the marketing experts

Assemblo is a full-service marketing agency based in Melbourne, and we know that effective marketing is all about the customer experience.

We create marketing strategies with a broad and targeted marketing mix that includes experiential marketing, and that lead to real bottom-line results.

To find out how we can help your business, give us a call on (03) 9079 2555 or send us a note via the contact form below.

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