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5 Ways to Create Memorable Experiential Marketing

You may have heard of experiential marketing but aren’t sure what exactly it is, or how it can be utilized for your own brand. Experiential marketing may also be referred to as "engagement marketing", and is defined as “a marketing strategy that invites an audience to interact with a business in a real-world situation. Using participatory, hands-on, and tangible branding material, the business can show its customers not just what the company offers, but what it stands for” (Hubspot, 2019).

In simple terms, it is a way to get your brand to interact with people in the real world. This can take on many forms, from digital campaigns to full-scale events. But how does doing something experiential for your brand actually benefit your business? It’s all about creating stories around your brand that stick in people’s minds: it can take the shape of lessons to learn, time for enjoyment, moments of the unexpected, or simply a memorable experience that is captivating and people want to share. Most importantly, your experiential moments should get people interacting with your brand in a way that makes new associations as to what your brand is about, along with associating your brand with the positive things the experience made them feel.

Now of course is the daunting task: where to start? We have compiled a list of different aspects that your experiential marketing can tap into, with examples of how other companies have successfully utilized these strategies in the past:

1) Going Where People Already Are to Interact with their Everyday Space

In people’s busy lives, it may be difficult to get them to go out of their way to an event or new space in order to engage with your brand. By looking at where you demographic already goes and the spaces they interact with on a daily basis, you may find inspiration in the everyday. One example of using this strategy is when Google wanted the input of the San Francisco Bay Area when deciding where to make donations for their Impact Challenge. By installing interactive posters in places where people already were --such as bus shelters, food trucks, and restaurants-- people were able to make their voices heard on where corporate philanthropy would be best used. This campaign didn’t just let people feel like they were a part of the decision and able to make a difference in some way, but also allowed Google to spread new information about their projects, and have their values around giving seen by people as they went about their everyday lives.

2) Get People to Create or Contribute to Something

People don’t always get to work their creative muscles on a day to day basis, so creating opportunities for people to do so is certainly something that will stick in people’s minds. Not only that, but if people are collaborating on something that will become publicly shown, this can create positive feelings of having contributed to something every time they see what has been created. This doesn’t have to be complicated: at one Edmonton Comic Expo, the company Bioware simply left out a large wall drawing for people to come and color or add to, and people were able to see how the whole piece grew and came together across their weekend of attending the event. This concept is nothing new: Inbound in 2016 also invited people to participate in filling in a large colored mural, and American Greetings at the SXSW festival has created opportunities for people to sit down, craft, and make a new creation. These fun experiences stick in people’s brains, and often lead to people posting about them online if they are proud of taking part in the creation.

3) Create Fun

Speaking of fun experiences, sometimes it’s all about finding ways for people to carve a moment out of their day for enjoyment, to give them the positive feelings you want them to experience when thinking about your brand. One example of this is the 2009 Volkswagen campaign where the brand turned a subway staircase in Stockholm into a live piano. When people walked up or down, they found their steps making music and would often stop to have a moment of fun. People are more likely to engage in something if it seems like they are going to have fun, but that’s not all this campaign did: in alliance with Volkswagen’s values of environmentally friendly products, they also wanted to make people’s personal habits become healthier. And what easier way than making people want to take the stairs in order to have a few moments of joy?

4) Visually Represent the Impact of Participating

When making a donation or pressing buttons online, do we really ever feel like our choices have made a difference? Showing people their impact is a great way to get them to want to engage. One example of this would be when HBO ran a campaign where people’s clicks online would tighten a rope that threatened to topple a statue of a villain on Game of Thrones. Over days people would see how their clicks all compounded to finally take the statue down, and feel like they took part in something. This can also be used when brands are trying to get people to engage in their humanitarian efforts. One example is when German relief NGO Miserero put up charitable posters that would show images of problems the company wanted to solve. When people swiped their cards for a donation, the image would change and they would see their impact: for instance, hunger was depicted as a loaf of bread, and every card swipe would make it look like the card was cutting a slice of bread. Being able to see the impact of their choices makes people stop and think about their decisions and about the mission of the brand they are interacting with.

5) Transform a Space

Finding a space that you and other people use every day and transforming it into a branded one can give your brand an experiential feel. Not only will the area fully represent your brand, but it may also create opportunities for people to want to go to it as a destination, or to photograph and share it further on social media. Think about the Studio Ghibli museum in Japan: so much of its charm is built on the way that the buildings look, and people love to use their visits for photo opportunities to share that magic on their social media. You may even choose to transform a space to a branded one for a short period of time as part of a strategic marketing moment, particularly when partnering with other brands. For example, Netflix teamed up with different diners across America to promote their new run of Gilmore Girls; by transforming the spaces to look like the famous diner from the show, people now made these locations destinations that they wanted to stop at and visit. What’s great about creating such spaces is the shareability; whether it is an everyday space where people already are, or a new destination, inviting people to take photos and spread the word can go a long way. There is a reason why people often make lists of the most “Instagrammable walls” in different cities: people like an opportunity for a photo-op and to share their fun experiences!

Whether you are starting small or thinking big, making an experiential marketing experience for your audience is a great way to find new engagement for your brand. These experiences are great not just for consumers to learn about your brand, but for you to be able to learn from them, what they care about, and how they like to interact with their world.

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