December 1, 2020 How experiential marketing can build positive associations with your brand

By Jacinta Koelewyn

people wearing VR goggles

An oversaturation of media, technology and platforms have made it harder than ever for businesses to reach, resonate with and drive audiences to take action.

Experiential marketing is an out-of-the-box way to engage customers in real-life experiences that are memorable and boost positive brand associations.

Read on to find out how to do it and who’s doing it well.

What is experiential marketing and why does it make such a splash?

Experiential marketing is a marketing strategy that engages people in in-person experiences and events. It aims to immerse them in fun, unique or feel-good branded experiences.

Both off and on-screen, successful marketing is all about storytelling. While marketers and businesses can be great at telling these stories, they don’t always know how to create them. By creating a mutually beneficial interaction between customers and a brand, experiential marketing helps people experience your brand in a tangible way.

It can boost brand perception

According to a report by the Event Marketing Institute and Mosaic, 72% of consumers positively view brands who provide quality event content, opportunities and experiences.

Done well, experiential marketing can be:

  • Authentic
  • Personal
  • Shareable
  • Memorable.

Creating positive memories can help customers establish a lasting connection with the brand, making them more likely to purchase your product.

It can amplify your reach through user-generated content

The Event Marketing Institute and Mosaic’s report found that 98% of consumers create digital or social content after attending events and experiences.

When consumers share branded event content, they have created a positive brand association with themselves that can also influence others. User-generated content can also act as a powerful promotion tool. In fact, consumers are 2.4 times more likely to perceive user-generated content as authentic over brand-generated content.

You can encourage participants to use a branded hashtag, so you can help them participate online and see your impact. Those who choose not to share content still walk away with a fun or memorable experience that translates to viewing the brand in a more positive light.

It brings customers to you

Rather than trying to engage customers who aren’t interested in what you’re pedaling, experiential marketing campaigns bring the customers to you.

Whether you’re set up at an event or another public space, you can capture the attention of those passing by. Having an active and engaged audience means they’re more likely to be receptive to whatever experience you’ve set up.

Companies who nailed their experiential marketing campaigns

1. Misereor’s SocialSwipe campaign

To fight poverty, small contributions can make a world of difference. Misereor’s SocialSwipe campaign set up digital posters with visual representations of what they’re trying to solve – with a loaf of bread to represent hunger.  

The screen had a card reader in the middle. With each €2 spent, the customer’s card swipe appeared to cut a slice of bread. In their bank statements came a thank you note, along with a link to encourage a monthly €2 contribution. This feel-good campaign helped people see their impact.

2. Rick & Morty’s Rickmobile

Cartoon Network’s Rick & Morty mobile pop-up experience embraced the show’s weirdness, while promoting its return to the screen.

The network sent a car shaped like Rick around the United States of America with a live destination page on its site.

Stopping in major cities, fans flocked to take a picture with Rick’s giant face and enter the Rickmobile, where they could purchase exclusive merchandise. The viral campaign not only built hype for the show, it also generated money from product sales.

3. American Greeting’s Analog campaign at SXSW

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an innovative tech, digital and media festival hosted in Austin, Texas. Considered a must-go destination for local and global professionals and thrill-seekers, it showcases the world’s biggest digital ideas.

It’s the last place you’d expect to see a 110-year-old greeting card company, right? In a place where technology is everywhere, American Greetings’ Analog campaign created real human connections – suggesting that the things you can hold and feel can sometimes carry more meaning.

Participants could create and contribute to:

  • Hand-stitched selfies
  • Animated flipbook GIFs
  • Polaroid Instagrams
  • A giant colouring book mural – with bits of work from everyone.

The impact was impressive. It made over 64 million media impressions, kept people engaged for an average of 25+ minutes and was dubbed a top 5 SXSW event by Forbes, CNBC and Adweek.

Takeaways for content writers and businesses

  • Keep experiences memorable but relevant. It has to make sense for your business
  • Figure out the message you want to send first, then build an experience around it second
  • Find the fun or feel-good factor – people want to enjoy themselves or make an impact
  • Create a branded hashtag to share the experience and track your impact on social media
  • Go where your target audience already spends their time and engage them there
  • Don’t shy away from high-impact visuals or messages
  • Keep the conversation going afterwards – you can nurture these leads with email marketing or resharing their social media posts.

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