What is Experiential Marketing?

9th Sep

All marketing today is driven by the singular goal of consumer engagement. But a recent wave of trend-setting marketing firms are taking this idea to the next level – by literally reaching out and touching people.


Today, we’re completely saturated with adverts – whether you’re waiting for the bus, watching your favourite show on the telly or scrolling through your Instagram feed, there’s simply no escaping them. All this advertorial white noise has made it increasingly difficult for brands to connect with their target consumers, and marketers are having to step up their level of creativity if they want their message heard.

Experiential marketing is nothing new, but as it’s begun to merge with innovative digital technologies, the strategy is reaching a reaching a whole new level. The most forward-thinking brands have realised this, and they’re beginning to edge away from one-dimensional ads in favour of immersive experiences in order to engage with their audience in a more visceral way.

Give Them Something Worth Talking About

Experience-based advertising comes in a variety of shapes and forms, making it difficult to pin down with precise definition – but like an amazing photograph or painting, you know it when you see it. Ad Age describes it as marketing that you can “touch, feel or view in a physical space,” and the idea is that by giving consumers the chance to physically engage with your brand, you create an indelible experience that will not only stick in their memories, but that they’ll want to tell people about as well.

Heineken is famous for this – a few years ago, they unveiled the Carol Karaoke campaign. The brand invited holiday revelers to drink some beer and belt out a few of their favourite holiday tunes, according to AdWeek. Little did they know, their performance was actually being broadcast live, in Times Square, to over 30,000 strangers.


The #JWModelSearch campaign for Jack Wills is another great example of experiential marketing. With the help of The Flash Pack, Jack Wills invited their customers to literally step into the brand by setting up professional, in-store photoshoots at nine different locations. In addition to the professional photo studio, potential “models” were also given a makeover by a personal stylist and instant, professional quality prints courtesy of The Flash Pack’s hashtag printer.

Participants were then brought to the Photo Booth Sharing Station, where they could view their photos, apply filters and share the images via Instagram and Twitter, using the #JWModelSearch hashtag. The upshot? 4,242 prints, 2,670 social shares and an estimated social reach of 14 million users.

Deal in the Real

What’s clear is that today, brands have to seek out fresh, bold, fun and real ways to connect with the masses if they want to grab their customers’ attention. For further reading, ClickZ offers some helpful guidelines to make your event pop.

If you want your campaign or event to really spark your target customer’s curiosity, it should provide people with an opportunity to step out of their daily routines and be genuinely amazed. Immerse your audience in an experience that engages their senses on as many levels as possible. Also, strive to be creative – it’s that little bit of extra magic that will capture a participant’s attention and make a lasting impression.

Most importantly, the experience has to be meaningful and memorable if you want it to make an impact. Giving out free samples of your product on the sidewalk? Not super-shareable. Throwing a massive party complete with a glitter-filled, Matrix-style photoshoot? Now we’re talking – and your customers will be, too.

(Main image credit: Gytis Vidziunas/Wikimedia)