In Marcom circles, experiential marketing has worn many names over the years: BTL, Activations, Engagement Marketing, Event Marketing, and probably others. But at its core, it has always been about the same thing – providing potential clients with a branded experience.
Experiential marketing in a nutshell
Drawing on Pop-up Art galleries and exhibitions, experiential marketing is all about a transient/ unrepeatable way of interacting with customers. It can be as simple as a branded VR game or as complex as a full-fledged festival. Somewhere in between lie trade show events – the little things brands do at trade shows to hook visitors in and (hopefully) generate some buzz. A telling example is the on-site product demo; for instance, glass manufacturers can have visitors try to smash their bullet-proof glass.
Some industries lend themselves better to some forms of experiential marketing; Business Intelligence shows, for instance, tend to be dominated by visualizations and data processing demonstrations. In most cases, though, the event itself isn’t the final goal – networking is. And given the complexity associated with planning an experiential marketing event, using the right tools to keep track of everything is a must – from Meeting Management to Time and Task Management, the toolkit of an event planner (in-house or in an agency) can never be left wanting.
How to enhance your experiential marketing efforts
Experiential marketing is an important part of any company that works primarily with other companies – it can impact branding, generate free press coverage and generate materials that can be later reused in other promotional campaigns – from videos to brochures, whitepapers, and case studies. Due to its many moving parts, EM relies a lot on proper planning but this also means it’s a perfect tie-in for other marketing efforts. Here are the top 5 things we take into account when approaching experiential marketing:
Personas can be dangerous tools. If you have never worked with the concept, consider them a detailed description of a typical user of a product/ solution. Most design and marketing companies use personas as a stand-in for their target audience – and therein lies the danger, because they can easily reinforce misconceptions/ biases and encourage inflexibility in thinking. However, if used as a starting point for understanding audiences, they can be great. In experiential marketing, personas shine not because of their accuracy, but because the research process they involve tends to uncover two elements that are critical for marketing success: ● Target audience frames of reference & cultural expectations ● Potential unfulfilled needs While the former is great for creative teams (copywriters, designers, strategists), the latter is excellent for business developers and analysts. Together, they can help design a branded experience with high chances of…
Just like experiential marketing, buzz marketing is as old as time and just as efficient. “Buzz” can be broken down into two components – newsworthiness and benign rule violations, both appealing to slightly different audiences:
- Benign rule violations are considered a key part of humor – but they are also the underlying cause of minor outrage. For instance, Kraft once got a city in Florida to change its name from Mayo to “Miracle Whip”, the company’s mayo brand. The key here is in the concept’s name – if a rule is to be broken, the violation should either be insignificant or the audience should care little about the rule itself
- Newsworthiness – in contrast with the above, newsworthiness relies on actions/ statements that are likely to impact a group of people in a significant way.
Buzz can be used to make an event become more popular because it gets picked up by bloggers/ journalists or by your audience (through word of mouth).
It is highly recommended that you don’t rely on a story to get on journalists’ radars on its own – hire a PR agency or actively pitch to writers yourself. Especially on slow news days.
When paired with a smart media plan, buzz marketing can work wonders. For events and trade shows, timing and location are everything, so using digital channels to their fullest is a must. By carefully targeting places where showgoers might spend their time prior to, during and after the event, a well-crafted advertising and PR campaign can help you boost attendance numbers, decrease meeting no-shows and increasing follow-up efficiency. For example, investing in Facebook Ads displayed to people around the local airport maximises your chances of getting seen by people flying in to attend the show (and waiting for their luggage).
As mentioned before, the beauty of experiential marketing is its power to generate a lot of information that you can reuse – while planning your event, make sure to document all that is happening on the trade show floor (photos, videos, livefeeds etc) and track everything you can think of. You will be able to use all this information for articles, press releases, infographics and more. The event is over when people forget about it!
Managing Your Event
Provided that your attendance numbers are high (and they should be), you need to make sure you can accommodate all your reps and guests. For this, two tools are essential: a CRM and a meeting & visitor management tool. Just last December, Cushman & Wakefield used YAROOMS for Spaces and resources management, Digital signage and Visitor management to make the most of their ICSC Deal Making presence at the Javits Center in New York.
Where to See Experiential Marketing in Action
All this being said, here is a list of us trade shows you should exhibit at if you’re part of the facility management/ real estate industry or at least attend if you want to see experiential marketing at its finest:
Designing Workplace Experiences & Facility Management
Tech Real Estate
Last but not least, you can deepen your understanding of experiential marketing by reading some of these articles:
high tech real estate concept -DepositPhotos