Experiential marketing was curtailed the past few years. It requires participation and engagement from people in a live experience. Due to safety precautions and guidelines during lockdown and stages that followed, experiential marketing was often seen as unsafe. Experiential marketers first struggled, but slowly adapted to the new business world. Now, we can apply how people adapted during COVID to longer term strategies for offering in-person and virtual experiences.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing is a technique that connects an experience between a consumer and a brand. The connection is meaningful and gives consumers something to remember. It’s the reason why we often want to see our favorite sports team play live rather than watching it on TV. It’s all about the experience. Experiential marketing not only increases brand awareness, but encourages interaction with consumers.
Make Virtual Experiences Engaging
Just because virtual events are watched remotely doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to be interactive. Live streaming platforms are great tools for experimental marketers to put on events for people at home. Social media creates sharable content and real-time comments. Experiential marketers are also creating large conference rooms using platforms like Zoom to increase engagement. People can interact with polls, games, and Q&A segments from their screens. Software also lets consumers share screens with the conference host. It’s exciting for consumers because they have personal engagements with the brand and feel as if they are there in person.
Showing that your brand cares about safety as the top priority encourages people to participate. Events in-person are better for outdoors where people could distance from each other. Hand washing stations are becoming a regular procedure during event planning. Checkpoints that direct people on where to stand keeps events in orderly fashion while restrictions are in place. Some safer but high engagement outdoor activities like drive-in events are fun options that also include brand imagery around the area.
Keep Experimenting With What Works
COVID-19 isn’t the worst thing to happen to experiential marketing. It shows how resilient marketers are. It’s a test to see how innovative brands could get to provide surreal experiences for consumers. Tinder released the Swipe Night Series on their dating app. Users are invited to participate in an interactive choice-based story. Tinder then shares their results with other people and gives users a conversation icebreaker.
The NBA opted to save the season in a bubble without any fans in attendance. It didn’t stop the brand from showing the faces of fans watching remotely in the stands where people once cheered live. Other brands are experimenting with games with reward systems. If consumers participate, brands will send them prizes such as digital gift cards. It’s about keeping a consumer to brand relationship through experimentation.
Experiential marketing is so effective because people crave a connection. Brands pursue the opportunity to build that connection with consumers and offer them unforgettable experiences. While it’s a challenge to gain a competitive edge during COVID-19, experiential marketing has only gotten more innovative. There’s no doubt that the challenges today will shift how experiential marketing will deliver experiences to consumers in the future.