experiential marketing 101

Recap of an Experiential Marketing Summit 2016 Session

By REBECCA DELLINGER, Marketing Intern

If there was one thing to take away from Experiential Marketing Summit 2016 (EMS), it would be that brands have to go above and beyond traditional advertising to give consumers, well, an experience! EMS was chock full of informative workshops, keynote speakers and master classes.

Deb Murray Lemon (On Board Experiential Marketing) and Mark Mullen (George P. Johnson) are two seasoned pros when it comes to experiential marketing. They ran their workshop, Experiential Marketing 101, with some fantastic tips and a good overview on the basics of what this type of marketing’s all about.

Even as hard-working professionals in the experiential industry already, we found the session very well presented. Therefore, we wanted to share the scoop with all of you! This follows our recap of the Pepsi keynote (check it out here if you’ve missed it!)

Lemon and Mullen explained why experiences are so important in marketing. They allow a brand to come to life, and they engage customers and build on-on-one relationships with them. You can’t just tell a consumer about a product or service and expect them to show interest – you have to show them a feeling or a lifestyle. That’s what will draw them in.

During this EMS session, the speakers went over five B2B and seven B2C examples of experiential marketing (although there are more than just these 12):

B2B Examples

1) Product announcements/launches create an event or experience around the release of a product. Even just the announcement for the product itself can create excitement as well. Apple’s announcements are always a success – they send out an invitation to when they’re getting ready to reveal something new. The mystery of what they might be revealing makes it exciting, desirable and newsworthy.

2) Customer conferences used to just be meetings where consumers shared tips and experiences with products. Then, the brand would hope that word spreads. Not anymore! Customer conferences, such as Dreamforce, are now huge events! They are successful because they create a memorable experience. Dreamforce featured performances from the Foo Fighters and Bruno Mars. It drew in over 160,000 registrants!

3) Internal sales meetings don’t just educate the salespeople about the product or service. They get them dialed in to the brand, get fired up about what they’re selling, and get motivated to sell it. Cisco holds a giant sales meeting every year with over 19,000 employees from all over the globe!

4) Dealer meetings, such as automotive dealer meetings, can help re-position a brand. Lincoln Ford wanted to move away from being an “old” brand that isn’t fresh or cool like some of their competition. The audiences for dealer meetings might not be large, but they are valuable in their own way.

5) Trade shows, like EMS, can showcase a brand, but you want to make sure you’re going to the right shows. Brands can have a small pop-up or a huge installment. Don’t forget to consider what your message is, who is going to be there and what you want people to take away. Remember to make it about the experience and engagement, and not just giving away a tchotchke!

B2C Examples

1) Participatory events allow the consumer to be fully immersed in the brand. Consumers want to get out and have experiences like taking part in a Color Run or the Nike Women LA Fitness Festival. At these events, engagement with the consumer is much longer and makes more of an impression. Plus, they can share their experience on social media!

2) Stunts are fun ways to create buzz about a brand. Bear Naked Granola partnered with YouTuber devinsupertramp (Devin Graham) to post videos on his adventuring channel. With their videos of Human Bowling and a giant Slip’N Slide, they got 3.7 million views! That’s A LOT of impressions!

3) Pop-ups make consumers excited because they feel like the brand wants to come to them. That way, they feel valued. These experiences can definitely garner a lot of social media attention. Kevin Hart helps with Run with Hart, where he tweets to a certain city or area that in three days they will have a pop up run. This can get over 3,000 people to run in three days!

4) Sampling gets the product right into the consumers’ hands. Mrs. Meyer’s Soaps set up hand washing stations so customers could actually use their products and smell them. Since the consumers were more engaged, they remembered the great-smelling soap. That is much more memorable than just taking a free sample home and leaving it forgotten in a drawer.

5) Mobile tours can spread a message far and wide. Today, brands want to make impressions in as many places as they possibly can. An exciting mobile tour can really draw interest to the brand and make people excited and interested in it.

6) Fundraising is a way for nonprofits to raise money and awareness for their cause. For example, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral and piqued the audience’s interest to learn more about ALS. Participatory events are also great ways to raise money, and attract an audience as well.

7) Retailtainment events draw people in to do more than view products. Customers can gather, find entertainment, see celebrities and – you guessed it – have an experience! Stores can have DJs, parties and happy hours to engage their customers. The customer who gets to take part in a meaningful and engaging event is more likely to become an advocate for a brand.

Some say experiential marketing began with snake oil salesmen. These charlatans sold an experience or lifestyle rather than just a product. This is exactly how brands today should try to market their products and services (although brands should avoid being fraudulent like the snake oil salesmen!).

The workshop was clearly jam-packed with incredibly helpful information and tips. But, the main takeaway is to create engaging and memorable experiences for the consumer.