The movement towards building a customer centric company is leading marketers to consider a shift toward experiential marketing. Experiential marketing or engagement marketing puts the customer and their needs squarely on center stage. It is a strategy that immerses the customer and engages them to experience a brand in creative and unique ways. This helps customers form memorable, emotional connections with a company’s products and services, creating strong customer loyalty.

It also allows for customers to have a conversation with a brand rather than just have messages pushed at them. The event or experience may be offline, but that doesn’t mean it can’t generate online content. You might not think that it can create dialogue, but according to the 2016 EventTrack Study by Mosaic and the Event Marketing Institute, 49 percent of participants create mobile video at branded events, of which 39 percent is shared on Twitter.

That same study also found that 72 percent of consumers say they positively view brands that provide great experiences. And it’s not just a B2C strategy, 67 percent of B2B marketers indicate that events and experiences are one of the most effective strategies they use too.

Here are a couple examples from HubSpot’s list of Eight Coolest Experiential Campaigns to help you see what type of activities fall into this category of marketing–

  1. Guinness Class – For a few weeks in bars across the U.K. Guinness ambassadors dressed in branded flight attendant gear gave bar goers a chance to win prizes by shaking a mobile tablet after they purchased a pint, one player per night would win the ultimate prize of a trip to Dublin on a private jet for four people. Who doesn’t aspire to fly on a private jet?
  2. Lean Cuisine #WeighThis – In New York Central Station, Lean Cuisine set-up a gallery of scales that were really boards and invited women to “weigh in.” Women wrote down how they wanted to be weighed – for being the sole provider to four sons – being back in college at 55.

The thing about experiential marketing is it requires a decent budget and a good deal of creativity to execute these types of unique interactions and programs. Whatever you implement must put the consumer at the center and remain authentic to your brand identity. You need to really understand your customer and use technology and research to gain the information you need to make the right connections.

To get started you should consider some best practices that help highlight the important aspects of this marketing approach. Successful experiential campaigns positively influence customers and provide them value. To garner this type of reaction for your brand, begin by closely considering your customers and follow these tactics.

Experiential Marketing Best Practices

  • Identify and research your target market to see what they aspire to
    • Focus on what motivates them
    • Use geo-located survey delivery
    • Identify needs and wants and challenge your company to benefit peoples’ lives
  • Determine the message you want to send and build an event or experience around that
  • Find an interactive way that creatively suggests how customers can benefit from your products or services
  • Develop a creative, impactful experience that is memorable and relevant
  • Create a branded hashtag (to get people talking about the experience)
  • Capture online engagement through social media platforms
  • Determine methods to measure the success of your experiential campaign

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a special event or experience. This kind of marketing doesn’t fit neatly into one category and may require a multi-channel approach. Marketers have to decide what makes sense for their company and determine how to interact with their customers. Creating a memorable experience has the power to establish a lasting customer relationship and increase brand loyalty in the long run.