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Experiential Marketing Strategy 101

When it comes to expanding awareness and engagement in your business, nothing matches a well-crafted experiential marketing campaign. Unlike other types of customer-outreach efforts, experiential marketing can achieve numerous objectives at the same time — boosting brand awareness, engaging current and prospective customers, spurring greater product demand and strengthening a brand’s voice and identity.

Planning an experiential marketing campaign may appear daunting at first, but with the proper preparation, you’ll create an event that keeps your product uppermost in many prospective customers’ minds. Here are eight tips for getting things right:

1. Define your goals.

Any event worth producing must have a defined purpose and budget. Without these elements, the process may lose focus, team members’ roles and responsibilities may needlessly overlap and you’ll lack a way to measure its effectiveness afterwards.

2. Know your audience.

How well do you know your target audience’s goals and motivations? Knowing what your audience needs and wants will shape virtually all elements of the experiential program. Get input from employees with first-hand understanding of your customers (customer service representatives, sales staff, client account executives, etc.) to help guide program development.

3. Don’t try to do this alone.

The time and effort involved in designing, planning and executing a successful event is simply too much for any single individual. Your efforts are better spent assembling a skilled, experienced team. If you’re outsourcing experts to handle the program, be sure to share with them all above-the-line marketing materials used in previous campaigns (print and online ads, billboards, TV commercials, etc.). This helps ensure consistency in messaging, as well as in the planning and execution of the event.

4. Think outside the box.

Much of the success of any experiential marketing campaign depends on its freshness and unique appeal to consumers. Clichéd or run-of-the-mill themes or messaging will likely fall flat. Work hard to create a different and more exciting theme for your campaign, something people will respond to because they haven’t seen anything like it before. 

5. Take advantage of social media.

If social media isn’t already an intrinsic element in your planning process, now’s the time to act! Promote the upcoming campaign on Twitter and Facebook, upload an event-related video to YouTube, boost awareness through your company blog, create a Twitter hashtag and publicize it in your marketing materials, promotional tools, T-shirts) etc. The reach and influence of social media can’t be overestimated.

6. Set up ways to measure effectiveness.

You can’t really judge the success of your campaign without some built-in metrics. These might include:

  • Mentions of your brand or product across social media platforms
  • Attendance at events
  • Customer feedback before, during and after an event
  • Survey results measuring changes in consumer perception of the brand

7. Stay flexible (and have fun).

Experiential marketing by its very nature is fast paced, often unpredictable and never the same thing twice. Be prepared to adapt to changes in planning, while never losing sight of the “fun element” – both for you and the people you invite to the event.

8. Consider multiple events as part of your campaign.

Look for opportunities to extend your experiential marketing campaign to a series of events, rather than just one. This offers the opportunity to emphasize different campaign elements, while reinforcing brand appeal to growing numbers of prospective customers.

Most importantly, stay focused on what your target audience wants and needs. Planning with this as a top priority stands a much greater chance of success. 

About the author:

Claire Prendergast is the Senior Strategic Communications Manager at agencyEA, a brand experience agency in Chicago. Her strong background in public relations and public affairs guides her vision for the company’s brand and voice. She brings her media relations skills to all agencyEA marketing communications, public relations and more.