Experiential Marketing: A New Way to Engage with Audiences

It’s often said that people may forget what you said or what you did, but they rarely forget how you made them feel. Because of this, we want to highlight the importance of experiential marketing: a strategy that involves consumers experiencing your brand and participating in the ad campaign itself. This is a revolutionized, authentic way to market your business because it allows your audience to feel like they are part of something, which helps to also solidify brand loyalty. When your campaign makes people feel something, they’ll be much more likely to remember or have a positive association with you. 

Traditional marketing methods aren’t going to cut it anymore — people want to be engaged. Billboards and television commercials are only effective if the audience is paying attention to them, otherwise, the message just goes in one ear and out the other. To make sure consumers are actually listening to what your business is saying, utilize experiential marketing to keep them interested. 

The Impact of an Experience

We’ve seen extremely large-scale versions of experiential marketing recently. Some of the most notable examples coming from the film industry. By framing a movie as a “must-see event”, filmmakers and their respective studios turn their releases into an entire experience as opposed to simply watching a film. Take the Star Wars franchise, for example. Because this particular series dates back to 1977 and boasts eight previous films, many were anticipating the long-awaited finale of the epic story. Hoping to appeal to hardcore fans and non-fans alike, it was heavily marketed as the last movie in the 42-year-spanning Skywalker Saga and was presented to the public as a spectacular, can’t-miss event to wind down the decade. Because of this sense of finality, the ad campaign invoked feelings of nostalgia in their viewers — capturing the essence of making people feel something through experiential marketing. 

Disney shelled out the big bucks for marketing the series’ latest release, The Rise of Skywalker. Partnering with brands such as Porsche, United Airlines, Samsung, Bose, GE, General Mills, McDonald’s, and the NBA, they created hype around the final installment of the saga. What did these partnerships consist of? Sweepstakes giving winners tickets to the premiere, Star Wars edition cell phones, costume contests, movie-themed toys, tattoos, and cereals, to name a few. They weren’t settling for just commercials and posters, they wanted fans to experience this campaign. 

There’s a reason people get so excited to put on their costumes and go to the midnight premiere — they want to really embrace the experience. Because The Rise of Skywalker, which was released in December of 2019, had been marketed since April of that year, viewers had eight months of hype and promotion to help celebrate the movie before anyone even saw it. This ensured a lasting impression on the audience that will last long after they watch!

How to Incorporate Experiential Marketing Into Your Business

So your local business may not have the funds for a Star Wars-sized rollout, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still utilize experiential marketing. Take a look at these tips you can take advantage of when trying to engage your audience: 

1. Take advantage of social media campaigns.

If you aren’t already actively posting on social media platforms, get to it! Not only is this a free tool, but nearly everyone is familiar with apps such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook — making it an easy way to reach a wide audience. To incorporate social media into experiential marketing, consider launching online campaigns that encourage customers to post about your business. For example, if you own a boutique you could offer new customers a 10% discount for “checking in” to your store location on Facebook. This alerts their friends that they’ve been to your business and were rewarded for it, which will help you continue to draw new shoppers!

2. Host events.

For small businesses especially, hosting events is a great way to get people involved in your brand. Inviting guests and treating them to a fun time is going to leave a good impression, and they’ll remember that in the future. If you’re a restaurant, consider hosting tastings with other people in the industry to market yourself in the area. Your customers are much more likely to remember coming to your business, interacting with you and your staff, and testing out your products or services than they are to remember an ad they saw in the local paper. 

3. Collaborate with other local businesses. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to other businesses when planning your marketing strategy — you’d be surprised about who’s willing to work with you. For example, lots of breweries in the Charlotte area host events at their establishments to bring people together for things other than just drinking beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with simply having a few brews, but sometimes customers are looking for a little something else. A collaboration with another business could be the answer. Remember, you want to give people an experience, something other than simply walking into your store. 

One of our favorite local examples is how The Unknown Brewing has become famous for their weekly Wednesday yoga classes and found a great way to draw a crowd. They might forget the beer, but they’ll definitely remember the brewery offering workout classes!

Have Fun With It

Each business is unique and has different methods that will work for them, so test out a variety of experiential marketing tactics to determine what’s best for you. As we stated previously, these campaigns should be authentic; to remain authentic, do things you actually enjoy. Have fun with your marketing strategy — the positive attitude will rub off on your customers. 

If you need a little extra assistance in building a marketing strategy, take a look at our free, downloadable Marketing 101 Checklist. This guide has everything you need to start your successful campaign and tips to improve existing ones. 

Marketing 101 Checklist