What Is Experiential Marketing.

4 min. reading

If marketers really want to succeed in building a brand strategy, they need to take on a modern marketing approach. Otherwise, they can burn through budgets without impacting the target audience.

Increased media spending on the mere repetition of a product’s features and advantages makes for an increasingly expensive and decreasingly effective tool for winning new customers. It is pointless to keep inviting more advertising agencies to tender and searching for ever-more-creative campaigns or event concepts to put the brand on the shopping list. People today simply block out most ads.
And that changes the rules for building brands as well.

Blog Exm Experiential experience marketing Co je experiential marketing 1 innovate.rocks

Brand managers aiming for significantly broader reach and the creation of strong emotional bonds between the brand and the consumer need to go beyond the bounds of conventional marketing. If they want to win the battle for market share in the dynamically evolving era of the experience economy, they must face the overall transformation of brand strategy from passive to active. So, it will certainly come in handy to explore the experiential marketing approach.

Nowadays, building awareness about product benefits just isn’t enough.

Experience economy / Marketing funnel / Chris Janiszewski / Harward Business Review / Focus / Byron Sharp / Reach

Traditional marketing originated as a response to the era of the Industrial Revolution. It focuses on the functional elements of the goods sold, the benefits that the brand brings, and its values. It views consumers as rational actors who primarily care about the functional characteristics and benefits of products.

Its pillar has become the marketing funnel, whereby brands invest the greatest share of energy and money in raising awareness, in the hope that at the end of the road consumers will choose their product. As early as the beginning of the 21st century, the first facts began to appear indicating that this idea needs to be fundamentally reworked.

Emotions play a vital role in decision making.

In 2009, Chris Janiszewski, President of the Association for Consumer Research, disclosed that product usage not only provides a benefit experience, but also an experience related to the brand and the meanings it has come to represent. Traditional marketing looks only toward the former.

Just a few years later, Mark Bronchek and Cara France published the results of a survey in Harvard Business Review of brands such as Sephora, Google, Intuit, and SAP. From this, it appears that marketing can no longer rely on the marketing funnel (see Looking To Sell? Stop Relying On The Marketing Funnel...). Consumers are guided by both rational and emotional choices. 

Today, therefore, the conventional approach to marketing — despite growing awareness among marketers — is considered by world leaders to be an obsolete model.

The experience economy in bloom.

The fast-growing consumer market and people's cynical approach to advertising are making it challenging for marketers to find new ways to capture their audience’s attention. People today are looking for different values than in previous decades. They prefer “being” to “having” and “enjoyment” to “money.” This results in the economic progression so aptly described in The Experience Economy (B. Joseph Pine II, James H. Gilmore).

Experience marketing is a complex marketing strategy in which a brand interacts with people, puts their experience at the core of its communication, and encourages them to co-create its values. 

Contemporary marketing is still operating under the assumption that what customers see and hear should be enough for them to make a shopping decision. But according to research by Focus, the strongest impulse to buy is a personal experience or a recommendation from an acquaintance.

In other words, in the experiential era, a rational and goal-oriented customer has turned into a pleasure-oriented individual who seeks fun, experiences, and “sensual/emotional” stimulation.

Another reason to buy.

Experiences are a key element for getting the attention of today's customers. They provide sensory, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and rational value that supersedes the functional. People decide not merely on the promise of product characteristics, but on what experiences or encounters have been shared with the brand.

Experiential marketing by Gorenje. The advertisement would create a one-way campaign about washing machines that have steam. Event marketing would bring washing machines in front of people and wait for their interest. Digital marketing would turn on PPC advertising describing product benefits and exposing them to the expected reaction. Sales would offer a gift when purchasing the product. The experiential marketing approach has combined everything into one strong activation in which people want to be, want to see, and enthusiastically want to share. Based on it, the brand succesfully launched an omnichannel campaign in the media and at the point of sale.

For this reason, experiential marketing plays an important role in influencing customer behavior, gaining their attention, and creating a sense of trust. Marketers get an important tool for eliminating the ad-blocking effect described by Byron Sharp (How Brands Grow) and getting the attention of a huge number of people in both the real and virtual worlds – both of which are oversaturated with advertising messages.

From a brand perspective, it is a useful tool as a differentiation strategy and the only way to gain an edge on fierce competition. It leads to greater customer impact and greater efficiency and cost savings compared to traditional marketing.

The rise of experiential marketing.

Nearly 65% of Google searches produce no clicks. The average post on a Facebook page reaches 0,08% of followers. The average post on Instagram reaches less than 1,6% followers. 85% of content earns less than 10 social media shares. The number of adblockers is growing as fast as the popularity of paid, ad-free Netflix or HBO.

Experiential marketing is a marketing tactic that is part of experience marketing. It focuses on creating a unique, memorable, and multi-sensory user experience with a brand. It is the answer to how to make experience marketing experientially.

Experiential marketing has quickly become a modern strategy for many leading brands such as Mastercard, McDonald's, Nike, Adidas, Samsung, Heineken, TD Bank, Ikea, Amazon, Oreo, Zappos, etc. 77% of marketers have pushed experience activities to the core of their advertising strategy.

Instead of the usual self-presentation of the brand, experiential marketing creates multisensory experiences for customers and builds an entire communication on them. It combines the best of sales promotion, event, and digital strategies. Very naturally, they find their way in front of customer's eyes and into their memories, without wasting time and money on failed attempts to gain attention.

Exm campaign results are startling.

A 32% increase in event attendance, 56% increase in leads, 70% increase in click-through rates, and 3x more open emails. Forty-seven percent of brands report a return on investment (ROI) from experiential activities of between 3:1 and 5:1, with 29% of them ranging above 10:1. This means significantly higher memorability for spots, 10 times longer time with the brand, and the spreading of its name among others by word of mouth.

Experiential campaigns overcome the often-abysmal gap in numbers between brand reach and attention gained. They invoke a strong impulse to buy, thereby generating higher sales as well as an increase in the number of active brand advocates.

This fundamentally transforms the marketing funnel, regardless of whether the brand's goal is to increase awareness, promote interaction and trial products, obtain positive word of mouth, create desire for a product, increase return on investment in marketing, stimulate purchasing, cement a bond to the brand, or strengthen brand value.

 

Continue reading: Is Experiential Marketing (Just) An Event?

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