Experiential Marketing: Defined

Fish

What do humans and goldfish have in common?

(No, this isn’t a riddle.)

Both have an attention span of less than 10 seconds. That's right, 10! 

In fact, if this article hasn’t piqued your interest by now, it will likely go unread.

But don’t close that tab quite yet! There’s a solution – and it’s called experiential.

Often referred to as “experience marketing,” “brand experience,” or “event marketing,” experiential is increasingly being recognized for its ability to create relationships between brands and their audiences. The method isn’t new. But with 91 percent of global audiences regarding ads as intrusive, marketers are turning to experiential as a more effective means to capture the hearts and minds of customers.

So what exactly is experiential? Admittedly, it’s not the easiest to define. But to bring clarity to the term and the technique, we look at four key elements of experiential.

1) Experiential revolves around a human-centered experience.

Harken back to your days of SAT prep. To figure out the meaning of a word, you were encouraged to look at the root. You guessed it – experiential marketing derives from experience.

Frequently associated with pop-ups, tastings, festivals and fairs, experiential activations often happen live and in real-time. Digital experiences are equally important – both on their own and as an enhancement to live events. In either case, experiential revolves around a human-centered experience, one that is a) designed for a particular audience and b) largely guided by audience-members themselves.

2) Experiential is multi-sensory.

Experiential engages audiences on the most elemental level – through the senses. A creative visual widens the pupils. A familiar scent conjures up a happy memory. A hands-on experiment helps a customer understand how a product works.

A multi-sensory experience immerses customers in a brand, making it easier to capture their attention and deliver messages without distraction. Perhaps more importantly, the senses act as a superhighway to the heart and mind. Through experiential, brands trigger emotions, build trust and boost knowledge that customers can wield and pass along.

3) Experiential facilitates dialogue between a buyer and brand.

Let’s be honest: You can’t interact with a billboard. Indeed, experiential boasts a huge advantage over traditional advertising when it comes to communicating with customers.

Whether it’s a face-to-face conversation at a live activation or a post-event opportunity to provide feedback online, experiences organically open up lines of communication between brands and their most important stakeholders. Customers feel valued. Companies gain useful insights. Both become part of each other's stories. It’s no wonder that 95 percent of businesses state that experiences are essential for the development and retention of long-term customer relationships.

4) Experiential is integrated.

Picture a bicycle wheel. At the hub, you have an experience. The spokes? They represent all the other ways to reach an audience – social media messages, display ads, guerrilla street teams, community outreach, and even the lesser-discussed billboards.

Yes, while experiential may revolve around a human-centered experience, it’s most effective when complemented by multiple marketing methods. And by employing them before, during and after an activation, brands have the opportunity entice audiences, enhance experiences and reinforce memories that far outlast an event itself.

Key Takeaway

So what is experiential? Experiential is an integrated marketing method that facilitates dialogue between brands and audiences through human-centered, multi-sensory experiences.

And it’s becoming increasingly popular.

While some companies have prioritized experiential since their founding, more and more are realizing it’s power to reset relationships with consumers. It’s true. In a recent survey, one-third of CMOs revealed that they intend to allocate up to 50 percent of their budget to experiential in the next three to five years.

Want to learn how experiential can benefit your brand? Drop us a line at info@montagemarketinggroup.com.