Imagine that you walk into a clothing store to buy winter clothing.
You might be able to test the fit by wearing it. But how do you know if it will protect you from the cold weather? The only way to test it is to wear it and see if it fits, buy it, and then hope you made the right choice.
That’s the case unless you shop at Globetrotter, a German company that sells outdoor clothing and equipment.
Move over, fitting rooms. Globetrotter has a room that can get as cold as -20 degrees Celsius. Step into the chamber wearing winter gear and see how well the clothing keeps you warm.
While it might not be 100% accurate in terms of modeling a real-world scenario, it’s pretty close.
Globetrotter benefits from word-of-mouth marketing. It also lets potential customers experience the product firsthand. And it’s stronger than any fitting room purchase.
Globetrotter is one of the many brands that use experiential marketing as a way to engage and retain customers.
What is experiential marketing?
Brands use creative ways to draw consumers to experience their products in real life. This marketing strategy is called experiential marketing.
Experiential marketing works on a simple premise. Customers who experience a product will have a strong brand recall. They could also turn into brand evangelists.
SAAS companies provide free trials for the same reason.
Here are a few successful experiential campaigns.
Sensodyne created three physical zones as part of their campaign.
Zone 1 offered prospective customers a free sensitivity check with a dentist. It also offered free samples.
Zone 2 was for the shutterbugs. They erected a four-meter-high molar. The backdrop had the iconic tower bridge. Combined, it was a great photo opportunity.
The third zone provided oral hygiene lessons to over 200 people. Volunteers made sure the crowd participated in a more engaged session.
The campaign was a success. They were able to give out 6,480 toothpaste samples and secure 150 media mentions.
There’s a lot of value in listening to your customers.
IKEA fans wanted a sleepover. They created a Facebook group called “I wanna have a sleepover in Ikea.”
They invited 100 Facebook fans to have a sleepover at their UK warehouse.
The invitees also got free manicures and massages. A reality TV star read them bedtime stories. They also had a sleep expert to help people with their sleep issues and help fans choose new mattresses.
D Rose Jump Store
Derrick Rose launched his signature Adidas sneakers.
Typically, brands rely on celebrity pull to launch products. Adidas didn’t want to settle for the usual approach.
Adidas organized the D Rose Jump Store.
Fans of Derrick Rose could meet him as well as win a free pair of signature sneakers. All they had to do was jump ten feet, the same height to reach a regulation basketball hoop.
Even if I don’t win a pair of sneakers, that’s an experience I’d want to talk about with my friends and colleagues.
The first time you land on the Red Bull website, you wonder whether you came to a corporate site or an extreme action content portal.
That’s the Red Bull brand. They are less about their energy drink and more about people with high levels of energy.
Almost everything Red Bull does is experiential marketing, from Red Bull flugtag to F1 racing to sponsoring Felix Baumgartner’s famous freefall from space.
What makes experiential marketing tick?
One word: experience.
Traditional marketing relies on communicating the benefits of your product or service.
Experiential marketing takes it one-step further. It draws your potential customers in and gets them to experience your product or service.
Think about it; you are more likely to remember Globetrotter after actually going to their store and experiencing their weather rooms rather than just reading about it here.
Traditional marketing might be losing out to digital in terms of scale and ROI tracking. However, the brand recall for marketing activities where you can experience the brand physically is much higher.
All That Glitters is Not Gold
There are clear benefits to experiential marketing strategies. However, it’s not without shortcomings.
Experiential marketing campaigns require high levels of creativity.
It’s also not a scalable marketing strategy. They often tend to be localized to a particular store or an event.
We might be able to execute experiential marketing campaigns at scale very soon thanks to virtual and augmented reality.
The technology is quickly maturing. In another 5 to 10 years, we can probably expect AR and VR to have a mainstream impact.
That’s when you get to scale experiential marketing just like a display ad campaign through AdWords.
Should your business jump in?
If you are a small business or have very tight marketing budgets, stay away from experiential marketing campaigns.
Often, tracking ROI for such campaigns can be tricky. Take Sensodyne’s campaign, for example. They distributed over 6,000 samples. However, there is no way to determine if those samples resulted in an actual purchase.
Also, since they have a reach limitation, it might not be a good fit for businesses that sell commodity products or services.
For luxury brands, experiential marketing might work well since their target audience is often limited.
Experiential marketing is often experimental marketing. It could also backfire. You need to have resources for damage control if your marketing campaigns fail.
Your marketing campaign should be useful and creative. Cheap publicity stunts are not necessarily going to be a successful experiential campaign for you.
Experiential marketing is certainly a strategy that has the potential to go viral. Evaluate your risks and plan a creative marketing campaign that has a positive association with your brand and is useful for your customers.