Experiential Marketing | A Little Bird

Dive Into Experiential Marketing: What It Is & Various Types

Imagine yourself in this scenario. You’re attending a concert that’s located in a rather large stadium. You arrive at the stadium plenty early. Once you get through security, you’re ready to take in all your surroundings. You walk toward the stadium and start to see the scene unravel. 

Workers around the stage are getting everything set up and performing final sound checks. There are food stand employees who are cooking up delicious-smelling food. Additionally, there are bright and themed decorations plastered everywhere.

It’s truly a sight to behold, and it feels like you’ve been transported into a different world. Someone even comes up to you and asks if you’d like to try the latest and greatest energy drink that XYZ company has released. 

To heck with it, you decide. You’re going to be there partying for hours, might as well have a little extra energy right? The night goes on as normal and you have an amazing time at the concert, extra energy in hand.

Little do you know that the energy drink sample you tried and so very loved was an ingenious marketing technique known as experiential marketing. Experiential marketing leverages creativity and the human experience to help brands engage with consumers on a deeper, more intimate level. 

There’s a lot to experiential marketing. We don’t mean to be cliche when we say this, but experiential marketing isn’t like your other typical forms of marketing. 

When executed correctly, experiential marketing campaigns can launch your brand into the spotlight, help solidify your reputation, and, most importantly, help your target audience remember you better. 

Let’s take a deep dive into experiential marketing today, and give you the knowledge you need to know about its different types and what it is.

Experiential Marketing Defined: What Is It?

Piece of paper with words "marketing strategy" on it, signifying experiential marketing.

Experiential marketing is arguably the most impactful way for brands to engage their target audience, drive sales and build brand communities.

People who are new to experiential marketing might see it as a double-edged sword, although once you get your metaphorical hands dirty in all things experiential marketing, it’s much easier to understand than it seems.

Experiential marketing encompasses whatever efforts put forth by brands that allow consumers to experience that brand IRL. 

Whether that be the consumer understanding the brand’s benefits, learning about the brand's history, or trying out a new wave of products the brand releases, that’s all experiential marketing. 

Essentially, it’s whatever gets the consumer to experience the brand on a deeper level and engage with that brand. You can also call this type of marketing engagement marketing.

However, this open-ended definition of experiential marketing is also what makes it so confusing to businesses who are embarking on their experiential journeys for the first time. 

Without a solid definition of experiential marketing, how are you supposed to create successful campaigns? Well, that’s the fun part! You get to be creative!

3 Important Experiential Marketing Elements

The number "3", signifying 3 important experiential marketing traits.

Here at A Little Bird, we understand that it can be confusing, difficult, and even downright frustrating to integrate yet another form of marketing into your business. 

However, after learning about these 3 important elements of an experiential marketing strategy, you’ll be more informed about it and ready to take on everything it has to offer.

Brand Authenticity

Two business owners smiling towards one another.

The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to experiential marketing is brand authenticity. It’s paramount to a campaign’s success. Yes, you have to be creative, and yes, you have to connect with your target audience. 

But what happens if you stretch the limits a little too far? 

If you go too hard and get a little lost in the sauce, you run the risk of creating campaigns and representing your brand as something it ultimately isn’t. 

Your experiential marketing should make people curious about your brand, and ready to dive head first into it. Experiential marketing is the best opportunity to bring your brand’s story to life!  

How To Stay Authentic

When you’re trying something new, it can be difficult to wonder if you’ve gone too far or didn’t represent yourself in the right ways. 

To avoid this risk, try putting yourself in the shoes of consumers. Ask yourself if it’s obvious what messages you’re trying to convey. Ultimately, your target consumer should walk away with an emotional connection to your brand that resonates because they love your story, and love your reason for what you represent.

If you can’t truly answer “why do we exist” and tell your brand story through your experience, it may be time to revisit how you deliver that message. 

Engagement & Interaction

Consumers interacting with workers at a coffee stand.

Another facet of experiential marketing that’s important is audience engagement and interaction. The goal with this part? Entice consumers as soon as they first come across the physical experience, whatever that may be. After you reel them in, you want to keep them hooked on your message, products, or brand’s history that’s relevant to that specific campaign. 

Give something to your audience or give them something to do. Playing fun games, asking them trivia questions, and giving out samples are only a few different examples of how you can help foster this interaction and engagement. 

Don’t Be Overbearing

There’s a fine line between just enough and too much. What you don’t want to do is overwhelm people with all the different senses, experiences, and information at once that you have in your experiential strategies. This leaves a bad taste in the consumer’s mouth, and definitely won’t give them something good to remember. 

If you’re creating an experiential campaign for the first time and need some help, talk to us! Our team at A Little Bird has a diverse group of people with different experiences that can help you nail engagement and interaction. The ideas and opportunities are truly endless - but we’re here to help you navigate to the perfect idea for you. Give us a call to see how we can help!

Memorable Experiences

Consumers smiling while receiving something they purchased from a cashier.

Last, but certainly not least, we come to the experiences totem. We’re not going to come right out and say it’s the most important part of experiential marketing, because that’s hard to do. But it is pretty close. 

When you’re creating different experiential experiences for your consumer base, you want to make sure you leave them with something to remember. Some positive statistics, the way your brand improves people’s lives, samples if applicable, and/or a physical object (such as a fun branded premium giveaway) is going to help them recall why they love you. It’s this part of the process where you can get a little more creative.

Ask yourself, “How do I want my brand to be remembered?” and “What is the emotional connection I want this experience to spark?”. You can piggyback off that question and create the most authentic, creative, and memorable experiences possible for consumers. 

An Extra Note

Of course, we have to throw a minor disclaimer in here. You could probably already guess what it is by this point, but we thought we’d throw it in just in case. Make sure your experiences are memorable in a good way, and not a bad one! 

Different Types of Experiential Marketing

The word "marketing" out of different colored letters.

There are many different types of experiential marketing that companies use to help bring people closer to their brand. Here, we take a look at some of the most common types of experiential marketing. 

Friendly Disclaimer: This is a non-exhaustive list of the different experiential marketing types. Essentially, whatever accomplishes the goal of experiential marketing can be thought of as a viable strategy!

Sponsored Events

A brand sponsored event.

A huge strategy that encompasses experiential marketing is sponsorships and sponsored events. If you’ve ever seen people wear shirts associated with a specific event with different brand names, that's a tell tale sign you’re at a brand-sponsored event. And you’ll likely see a lot of brands that align with your particular lifestyle and the variety of lifestyles associated with the event itself. Here’s what makes these events a form of experiential marketing.

Say you have a large event. Obviously, it costs money to put any event together. You need to purchase any permits, building materials, food, security, and more. Additionally, you have to recruit volunteers or employees to put the event together. 

To raise funds for large events, the host of the event, the event’s leader, typically enlists the financial assistance of businesses and companies in the surrounding community.

Not to get all scientific on you, but sponsored events can be thought of as a symbiotic relationship. The event leader receives necessary funds from the businesses in exchange for letting those businesses advertise themselves in some way.

Brand Advertising at Sponsored Events

There are many experiential marketing examples you can see at sponsored events. Brands sponsoring the event can set up pop-up brand experiences and distribute samples to event-goers. They can also engage in guerilla marketing, where they go up to random people and get their attention focused on the brand. The possibilities are endless! 

While you might have some constraints set on you by the event’s organizer, you can also get pretty creative at these sponsored events. 

Partnerships With Other Brands

Business owners working out numbers of business with one another.

Similar to sponsoring large events, brands can also partner with one another as a form of experiential marketing. Whether this be through collaboration on a product, combining forces on product activation efforts, or something related, there are tons of possibilities in partnerships. 

Typically, brands that are closely related by niche form a great partnership. It wouldn’t really make sense if brands with completely unrelated products all of a sudden started pushing out experiential marketing campaigns left and right. 

Can you think of a time when you’ve seen experiential marketing in the form of brand partnerships?

Guerilla Marketing

A lady using a megaphone talking to people.

Now we get to the odd one of the bunch: guerilla marketing. Although you might not recognize it now, you’ve definitely experienced it before. 

Any time you’ve been walking around the state fair, at a concert, or other large event, you’ve probably had people come up to you before and hand you a sample, ask you questions, and/or quickly tell you about their brand’s story. You, not expecting this sudden interaction, stop walking and focus your attention on the “surprise-and-delight” at hand. 

While not all guerilla marketing has to look the same as the scenarios you’ve probably been in before, they are all made up of the same traits. 

It's Unconventional

One of those traits is that this type of experiential marketing is unconventional and includes an immediate emotional connection with consumers. It doesn’t look like or function as your typical marketing campaign that people expect and recognize as marketing. 

This is because you’re directing people's immediate attention towards you, and can have them intimately interact with your brand.

It Won't Break the Bank

Additionally, guerilla marketing is relatively low budget. You don’t have to spend money on paid advertising, sponsorship or permitting fees, or anything else that’s typically involved with other marketing ventures. 

Brand representatives could very well go up to people without samples and surprise them with a coupon, or directions to the nearest store that sells their product.

Creativity to the Max

Lastly, you can get creative with guerilla marketing. Since there aren’t many constraints put on you from a budget standpoint, you can come up with several different ways to grab their attention and deliver your “reasons to believe”.

Product Sampling

Different samples of beer.

Product sampling is just how it sounds. Although the method of giving away samples varies from campaign to campaign, the core idea of this experiential marketing approach is the same. 

Product sampling involves giving away free samples of your product to people before they commit to making a purchase. It is one of the most widely used forms of experiential marketing and plays really well on the five senses. People can taste and/or interact with the product, ask questions, become engaged, and get a feel for how they’d use the product. Product sampling is in fact, very often integrated with all of the other experiential tactics we’re covering here. There’s nary a human on earth who doesn’t want to try before they buy!

Digital Product Sampling

In our digital age, more and more businesses have started incorporating technology into their product sampling. Digital sampling allows you to personalize who gets the products and lets you gather more information about your target audience before distributing the samples. It also lets you gather feedback from the consumers afterward, which is huge in the world of participation marketing and traditional marketing.

Brand & Product Activation

Delicately arranged product activation scene.

Brand activation and product activation are slightly different but fall along the same lines in experiential marketing. Brand activation refers to any processes and actions you take that help increase the awareness of your brand. It can be thought of as a brand “launch” where you either increase engagement or seek to inform consumers about your up-and-coming brand.

Product activation, on the other hand, involves getting more people to be aware of a certain product you sell, regardless of how new the product is. It can be a strategy used for existing products to help increase sales and interest in that product. But it can also be used to generate interest for a new product you’re planning on launching. 

Influencer & Creator Content Marketing

An influencer recording a video for a brand.

With social media being all the rage these days, we wouldn’t be doing you justice if we didn’t talk about influencer marketing as it relates to experiential strategies. When you think of influencers, you probably imagine a large social media presence combined with a dedicated following. When you put those elements together with experiential marketing, you have a recipe for success.

Using our definition of experiential marketing, local influencers and creators can add to experiential campaigns in numerous ways. 

Sponsoring Influencer content

For starters, you can sponsor influencer content. You can provide guidelines on exactly what to say or what kind of message you want them to deliver. Assuming that they have a positive relationship with their fanbase, that’s hundreds, thousands, or possibly millions of people who are exposed to your products and all the benefits they provide.

In-Person Influencer & Brand Experiences

You can also utilize influencers in conjunction with in-person brand experiences like pop-ups or as part of larger events. While it’s not a route that suits every brand, having influencers as a part of these experiences can help form even more engagement and interaction between consumers and your brand.

Invite Local Creators to Attend Your Activation

Here’s the big secret that too few brands are taking advantage of. Experiential marketing should be and IS a content generating machine! UGC content in particular is where content marketing is headed, and what better way to capture authentic consumer engagements and experiences than by having the people your target consumers trust the most share their amazing experiences with their audiences, in the most authentic way? 

Oh and one more secret, this doesn’t have to break the bank either - the creator economy post-COVID is riper than ever, and often far more affordable than contracting with large, mega-influencers who, let’s face it, often don’t have high engagement numbers compared to their actual audience size. 

How Do You Measure Success?

A business man cheering due to his success.

Because there are so many different types of experiential marketing, it can be difficult to measure success. However, you must analyze your efforts after experiential campaigns, so you can save time, money, and effort when making more campaigns. 

Here are some of our top tips when measuring the success of any experiential marketing campaign.

Tip #1: Determine Each Campaign’s Goal

Looking through a magnifying glass, signifying looking at a goal.

Before you can get ready to measure the results of an experiential campaign, you need to understand the goals behind it. 

What are you trying to achieve by launching each specific campaign? Do you simply want to increase visibility, or are you looking to hit a specific sales mark? 

Having solid goals for each of your experiential campaigns helps you collect solid data at the end of them. 

Tip #2: Attach KPIs To Those Goals

Different KPIs, or points of data.

Now, you’ll need to attach certain data points, or KPIs, to those goals. When doing this, think about specific units of measurement that help define your goals. 

If you’re looking for increased engagement, perhaps that KPI could be the amount of samples that you give away, or positive reviews that consumers leave for the product. If your campaign goal is increased sales, you can look at a dollar amount as being your KPI for that campaign.

Once you have these locked down, you can accurately identify where you succeeded the most in your experiential marketing plans. Data also helps you identify areas where you might not have succeeded as much as you wanted to succeed. 

And last but not least, how much content did your experiential campaign deliver? Was it just influencer content, or did you spark authentic, positive conversation across social and other media channels? Moreover, did you leverage your experiential content strategy to ensure your activations produced content and media that can and should be used for your other marketing media channels?

Tip #3: Look At The Bigger Picture

Looking outside a picture frame at the bigger picture of something.

It’s always important to look inward and ask yourself how you feel the experiential campaign went overall. Did you feel like it went well, and you learned lots of new information about your target audience? Did you receive valuable feedback from consumers that you can use to improve your brand? 

Take a look at the bigger picture and take some time to reflect on the overall results of the campaign. What do they mean to you and for the future of your brand?

The Future of Experiential Marketing

Doesn’t experiential marketing sound cool? Being creative while also sticking to your guns and displaying your best business front is fun stuff. There are so many different strategies you can use to make your experiential marketing ventures unique and special to your brand. 

Sunset with signs in the foreground, signifying different directions in the future.

We’d like to take a moment to look ahead and identify some potential things we can expect to see in the future in the world of experiential marketing. 

Even More Personalization

Of course, we can expect experiential marketing campaigns to get even more personalized. As production processes become more streamlined and we take advantage of being in a digital era, brands will be able to collect data faster than ever before. 

This means being able to personalize products, personalize marketing efforts, and all that information to consumers quickly. The more something is personalized, the more people relate to it. The more people relate to something, the more they’ll be compelled to make a purchase!

Greater Use of Technology

This one is pretty much a given. Companies are going to be able to leverage advances and innovations in technology to their advantage. Not only will this be able to help streamline their daily business processes, but it’ll help with advertising efforts, too. 

We already know how helpful technology can be in experiential marketing. The more tech that we can efficiently involve in it, the more successful we can be with campaigns!

More Omnichannel Possibilities

In the future of experiential marketing, there’s no doubt that we’re going to see an increase in omnichannel experiences. 

An omnichannel marketing method refers to businesses that promote their products across all types of channels in a cohesive, unified way. Combine this with your next set of experiential marketing events, and you’ve got a recipe for increased brand loyalty.

A Little Bird Wants to Help You!

A Little Bird team sitting around a table and talking, smiling.

Here at A Little Bird, we specialize in all things experiential marketing. From the very start of your experiential marketing campaigns, all the way to data analysis, we’re there to help you see the most success possible. 

Our approach to helping your business with experiential marketing consists of three main steps: a planning stage, a development stage, and an implementation stage. 

Of course, we also help you analyze the campaigns once they’re done, as mentioned previously.

We Love to Plan

Our team of dedicated experiential marketers is there to help plan, plan, plan. Marketing trends are always changing, technology is always evolving, and consumer needs always ebb and flow with these things. Instead of staying static and going with the same old same old, we take planning your strategies to the next level.

We incorporate creativity with the data you give us to plan out the coolest, most effective experiential marketing efforts you’ve ever seen.

Next Up, Development

Now, we put the plans into action. We’re taking what’s on paper and transforming it into tangible items that, when combined, form the basis for an experiential marketing campaign. 

During this stage, we understand that not everything’s going to work the first time. This is why we create prototypes and test different concepts until we’re certain they’re going to work by the time your larger campaign starts.

Seamless Implementation

At this point, a lot of the hard work and planning is done. It’s time to put it into action and flip the switch on your experiential marketing campaign! Of course, we aren’t just going to sit back and kick our feet up while the campaign unfolds. We’ll monitor its progress and help you every step of the way.

Once any campaign concludes, we continue to make tweaks based on the data from those campaigns, so any future endeavors are even better than the last. 

So, are you ready to build a winning experiential marketing strategy? Give us a call or email us so we can learn more about you! We can’t wait to connect with your business.