Marketers have spent decades relying on the 30 second TV spot, but have you ever wondered why 9 times out of 10 people rave about a great experience vs. a TV ad?

Why is it that brands such as Red Bull rely almost exclusively on experiential marketing (XM) and how did West Jet get 36MM views with their Christmas Miracle campaign…and a Cannes Lion?

For a brand’s existing customers, the best way to drive advocacy is to provide a great experience at every touchpoint. However, a paradigm shift is happening in how marketers engage non-customers.

Marketers are shifting more & more funds to Experiential Marketing because it..

  1. Allows for new product trial, and results in better conversion rates at a lower cost
  2. Creates real conversations: brands can hear feedback & address concerns. Finally, dialogue vs. monologue
  3. Can generate high quality leads when you sell on site as well as help attract lapsed customers
  4. Inspires, strikes an emotional chord & can help you develop deeper/more genuine brand relationships
  5. Drives positive word of mouth, action and advocacy
  6. Can move people through the customer journey/funnel quickly v.s “rule of seven”for traditional ads
  7. Captures great digital content for above the line so it can live beyond the campaign period
  8. Creates rich opportunities for data capture e.g. brand perception, purchase intent, likelihood to recommend

Still not sold? Consider these recent research findings…

84% of marketers say that Experiential Marketing is considered “very important/critical”or “important”.

95% said that participating in an event made them more inclined to purchase the products promoted.

7 out of 10 shoppers say they’ll share a brand experience via social media and other means of sharing

70% of consumers leave events and experiences with a more positive opinion of the brand, company or product showcased.

71% of consumers felt more positive about the company/brand following the event experience.

58% said they purchased the product after the event, and 86% said they subsequently became a regular customer.

So, which brands are doing it right?

Red Bull executes XM in a phenomenal way e.g. Red Bull Crashed Ice Series, Red Bull Stratos Jump

Heineken Departure Roulette videos have over 6 MM views (& counting)

So 8 things to evaluate tomorrow?

  1. Review your brand’s marketing plan & ask yourself what’s being done for engagement & to provide an  impactful experience customers will want to talk/advocate about?
  1. Take a hard look at your current marketing team – do you have the expertise to kick off an XM program in house or do you need to hire or consult experts in this space?
  1. Compare yourself to competitors – are they in this space? What are they doing well? What could you do better?
  1. Beyond XM, think about the path to purchase & the overall experience at every touch point – what’s working well? Can it be improved?
  1. Integrate Social Media from the start – from pre-event to post, it’s not about the few thousand people you reach at an event – it’s about the incredible number you have the potential to reach sharing it after.
  1. Take a cross functional approach – don’t put your program together in a silo, the best XM efforts are strengthened by input from marketing, channel, sales, and customer service.
  1. Pay attention to the feedback – The greatest thing about experiential marketing is that you get customer reaction immediately and can adjust and refine your message in real time. Take risks & experiment!
  1. Measure the long term impact of your XM programs – Did your events persuade shoppers to switch brands? How does purchase frequency compare before or after the campaign?, How did it impact basket size & more?

The classic objective of “breaking through” is getting harder & finding ways to truly connect/engage with your consumers & develop brand advocates remains a critical task.

My point is not that ads go away but rather to consider the marketing challenge you are trying to solve..if it’s awareness-ads still have their purpose but if it’s engagement with non-customers, experiential is the way to go.

It can be the difference between winning/losing & we all know which side we want to be on.

Christina Raheja

A senior marketer & strategist with 15+ years of experience at Nike, Kraft, Wright XM & more. My mandate is forming great partnerships/activations between clients, agencies & technologies from New York, London & Asia to drive buzz, earned media and engagement.

Follow Christina at @crahej

About Christina Raheja

Christina Raheja has written 1 post in this blog.