Upcoming generations know when they are watching an ad, and they want nothing to do with it – except skip it as fast as humanly possible. Now, companies have to find innovative ways to reach out and connect with audiences without appearing to sell something.
Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson collaborated with an in-depth Youtube docu-series to showcase their makeup palette, which sold out within minutes. The heavy metal band Iron Maiden did an entire world tour “Legacy of the Beast” to promote their mobile phone game by the same name. These and many other successful companies have one thing in common: experiential marketing.
Advertisements have turned into popular rave festivals and pop-up museums filled with one-on-one activities and photo-ops. The secret may be to step away from the product itself and focus on being interactive, creating joy, and providing an experience that will make consumers feel like they are part of the brand.
Engagement Vs. Reach
The beautiful thing about experiential marketing strategies is that it provides passive engagement with little to no effort needed to reach. The idea is to create an experience that is so attractive that the consumer base will automatically promote it for you.
For example, in 2016, the Ghostbusters movie ran a campaign by installing the Marshmallow Man in the Waterloo station. Not only was it a fun and pleasant experience for commuters to take pictures with it, but the surprise factor plays a crucial role in experiential ads.
Storymaking Vs. Storytelling
When it comes to creating a narrative for your brand, it can be done through storytelling: how it all started, document all your ups and downs, and what you hope to achieve. In it, the audience is a spectator. The content can be entertaining, but it fails to connect the brand’s purpose (beyond selling products or services).
Experiential marketing does more than tell a story; it’s an immersive experience that makes the consumer feel like they are playing a role. Add to your narrative by sharing a common goal with your audience, set up challenges that have the potential to go viral, and recount personal stories that are relatable to the audience.
For instance, Jambu Shoes turned loyal digital followers into content creators. The company urged its fans to share their adventures similar to those of the company’s origins. Not only did the audience create content for over 600 unique Jambu products, but it also gave them a chance to interact with the brand.
Content Marketing Vs. Influencer Marketing
The goal is the same, but the source of your content differs. Content marketing on its own is effective in relaying a message and openings for engagements, and you are solely responsible for it. On the downside, your brand may need additional credibility, third-party validation, and a face that already has a loyal audience.
Influencer marketing is a little tricky because there is a fine line between sharing an experience, and appearing as a living, breathing advertisement. Since influencers are a third-party platform, you do not have full control of how they represent your brand, and they are required to disclose that their content is a paid sponsorship.
From a consumer perspective, an authentic brand-influencer relationship may be the best option. Public figures generate more buzz and get an inside look at exciting events.
One great example of this is Perrier. In 2016, the company partnered with three online influencers to create hype on their platforms regarding Refinery29’s annual event, 29 rooms. This method helped build interest in the product and boost ticket sales. Once the visitors arrived, they explored 29 brand-sponsored areas that provided immersive experiences.
Turning Your Brand Into an Experience
Effective experiential marketing creates a powerful and memorable bond to a broader audience in a way that other marketing strategies cannot. Instead of shoving advertisements in their audience’s faces, companies are seeking a deeper purpose behind the products.