Experiential Marketing: Old School Marketing is Making a Comeback

It’s all around us, and it’s something that you encounter more than you probably realize. Every time you’re shopping at Costco and try that new salsa sample, or when you give yourself a spray of that new perfume at the department store. The idea behind experiential marketing is pretty simple – when we experience a product, we better understand it and thus are more likely to form a lasting memory of it. And in turn, we’re more likely to purchase it.

Simple, right? It’s a straightforward marketing technique, and one that marketers are turning to more and more to engage potential customers. While traditional advertising (radio, print, television) verbally and visually communicate the brand and product benefits, experiential marketing tries to immerse the consumers within the product by engaging as many other human senses as possible. In this way, experiential marketing can encompass a variety of other marketing strategies from individual sampling, to large-scale guerrilla marketing. It’s easy to see why there are so many different terms for experiential marketing – event marketing, on-ground marketing, live marketing, field marketing, and grassroots marketing, to name a few.

A recent Forbes.com article takes a deeper dive into experiential marketing through an interview with Bharat Rupani, President of Interactions Marketing, an experiential marketing agency and subsidiary of Daymon Worldwide. Rupani explains the term as “work done with retailers and brands to connect directly with shoppers – usually through an event that happens inside a store or externally in the community.”

He gives specific examples of experiential marketing that his company has executed, like a three week long grand opening event at a grocery store in Maryland that featured a flash mob, a custom miniature ice cream truck, a selfie booth, kids craft area, outdoor grilling event, and a number of food sampling events. And Advance Auto Parts’ mobile tour to over 30 automotive events across the nation with a 44 foot RV.

Both events gave customers a memorable experience and engaged them to become a part of the brand experience. So what makes experiential marketing campaigns successful? The people, and the interaction the audience has with those people (and ultimately the product or brand). You obviously want the interaction to be a favorable one and one that will leave the person with a positive impression. For this reason, it’s especially important that you have the right people representing the product or brand during these interactions.

According to Rupani, talent acquisition is the biggest challenge when it comes to experiential marketing. In today’s digital world where face-to-face interactions are dwindling, finding candidates who have a passion for human interaction and personal encounters is difficult. “Personal engagement is an art we must keep alive – it’s upon us to hire and train those who can emote and connect with people,” he added.

With experiential marketing, it’s important to take on a quality vs. quantity mentality and realize that it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It’s really just about the basics of selling 101 – word of mouth and human interaction. With each interaction you are creating a lasting impression of the product for someone; you’re really just selling through creating the experience for the customer.

While experiential marketing is something that many marketers may overlook in today’s growing world of marketing platforms, Rupani emphasizes that it’s simplistic and “old school” principles are something that other forms of marketing simply cannot compete with. “Ultimately if people try your brand and like it – you’ve made an impact that traditional marketing can’t produce.  With so much focus on technology today, experiential marketing is still the real and organic interaction with a brand that so many of us still enjoy and value.”

Do you have a positive experience in experiential marketing (no pun intended!) that has worked for your business? We would love to hear about it!