value of experiential marketing

Whether it’s brand perception, lead capture, or product purchase, experiential does it all and does it all better. // Jay Selig, AdWeek

We are a bottom line breed.

Probably a good thing, considering marketers are responsible for generating profitability. so what exactly is the value of experiential marketing?

As champions of experiential marketing, we see its ability to move someone through the buyer funnel. It integrates well with other channels and has many benefits.

In our 2018-2019 weekly video series, Feature Friday, we shared fast tips on measuring experiential marketing’s success. This article expands on his key points and gets to the crux of what makes experiential marketing valuable.


Experience drives perception.

Research shows that 87% of consumers change their perception of a brand after participating in a brand experience. 93% of consumers feel more connected to a brand, and 91% said they garnered more positive feelings toward brands after attending events or experiential activations.

Marketers’ challenge is to deliver an emotional understanding of your holistic brand. Create a meaningful appreciation of your brand through hands-on involvement and two-way interaction. Doing so demonstrates your brand values – beyond promotional messaging.

Citing sources from the 1970s, Wikipedia’s definition of marketing is “the study and management of exchange relationships.” Sure, we may not be dancing to funk music in our bell bottoms today. But not much has changed with our foundational marketing principles.

We live in a world where consumers aren’t buying into brand “promises” as they did once upon a time. Brand experiences allow for this brand-to-consumer-to-brand value exchange and deeper relationship-building. Thus, experiential marketing taps into that evasive emotional connection and can change long-term behaviors.

Does appreciation grow? Customer life value increase? Advocacy soar?

Often, experiential marketing is used and measured alongside short-term advertising methods. While it’s true that experiential drives immediate sales, marketers miss the bigger picture when only measuring its short-term effects. Leveraging experience is very different than running a print ad or serving display banners. Yet, marketers expect to measure it the same as the other channels.

You cannot fairly compare the quality of an experience with the cost-effective CPM of mass digital messaging because they simply are not the same.

All media has the ability to position your brand as a relevant essential to one’s life. But no other marketing venture can provide the meaningful engagement as experiential.

Even dark and twisty people can appreciate the heart of the matter. Brand experience births brand love. And that’s a lifetime value you should count.


Experience generates content and earned media.

Content is your lifeline – and that thorn in your side. In the age of content, it’s more difficult for your brand to stand out. Yet, you’re following the same rule book as every other marketer. Everything must connect to your content strategy.

Experiential marketing, when planned in conjunction with your overall marketing plan, can fuel your content factory. Of course, that’s brand-controlled content. Re-purpose the activation and find cost savings in other content areas.

More importantly, when the experience is unique to your brand and offers a memorable experience, it will spur user-generated content. Your audience will share personal content that reinforces your brand and your messaging. This can be done organically or through your influencer marketing programs.

Social media amplification isn’t the only earned media.

Brand experiences are magnets for press and publishers. We recommend involving your PR team, so they can invite media to participate. The goal is to have them tell your experience story in the next publication.


Experience drives a new business model.

During the 2018 Experiential Marketing Summit*, we were challenged to think beyond experiential as a marketing channel.

Could it also be a new line of revenue?

Or a completely new business model?!

As the industry once shifted from field marketing to engaging brand experiences, it’s time to shift from tactical thinking to more strategic planning.

What are your business-driven objectives your brand experience can accomplish?

What can we track and measure to tie experiential marketing to those objectives? Sure, we can hand out 10,000 samples. But of those 10,000 people, how many make a purchase? How many refer the product to a friend? How many start to follow the company’s social posts? By looking at the data more closely, we might start to see correlations from the customer experience to the bottom line.

Are brand experiences good point-of-sale locations? (Yes, sometimes.) If the value of what you’re providing is there, consumers may be willing to pay to take part in the experience.

In the latest EventTrack research, 67% of consumers said they made an immediate purchase at the brand experience. And 1/3 of consumers paid to attend a brand experience.

Nike Women’s Marathons brought female athletes together to experience the brand – but they charged event registrations. Magnum’s pop-up ice cream shots saw 30-minute wait-times for $8 custom bars. Bai created a revenue stream at Pitchfork with their braid stations, while also sampling free Bai beverages. Coca-cola launched mini pop-up stores where they sold their new mini cans.

For more established brands, the experience becomes less about awareness and product trial. Big brands crave a one-to-one experience with their loyal users. Since consumers crave physical, visceral experiences, these activations are a win-win.

If you’re ready to start talking about the value experiential marketing can have for your brand, start with a hello.

    *Source: Presentation, EventTrack 2018: Exclusive Research on the Value of Experiential, presented by Dan Hoover, Michael Hughes, Jil Eisnor, at Event Marketer’s Experiential Marketing Summit, presented on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.