How Top Brands Use Experiential Marketing
It seems that everywhere we go today, we’re bombarded by advertising. For many, this means traditional means of marketing a product are less effective. They fade into the background as just so much white noise. So how can a company get their message noticed in this increasingly competitive space?
Enter experiential marketing.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Photo Courtesy of Parker Design Consultants
While you may only be encountering this term recently, it’s likely that you’ve seen experiential marketing many times. Marketing booths at fairgrounds and conferences, car shows, and sample booths are all common examples that have been around for decades.
Experiential marketing is marketing in the real world, in ways that grab the attention more than your typical ad ever could. The methods and specifics are as varied as the products and companies using this technique, but they all have one thing in common. It means interacting directly with your target market and creating memorable experiences, no matter how small or how large.
Why is Experiential Marketing Important?
In today’s increasingly crowded marketplace, smart brands are stepping up their game. Those who pay attention are learning that the best way to capture attention is to stand out from the commonplace. It’s not enough to just hand out a sample or a sales pitch. Instead, marketers must create experiences that people will both remember and talk about.
The best examples of this are those events and experiences that go viral. In addition to reaching people in real time, you also get your message in front of their social networks when they share their experience. In effect, each person reached directly becomes a brand ambassador, spreading your message for you. It’s the kind of reach many brands couldn’t afford to buy, but with a little creativity, it can be created.
How Your Brand Can Use Experiential Marketing
So how do you incorporate this into your brand strategy? The most important thing to remember is that the experience should be unique, and should be intimately tied with your product or message. Here are a few memorable examples to help get your creative juices flowing.
BMW’s Ultimate Driving Experience
Photo Courtesy of BMW
What’s the best way to market cars? The test drive. It’s a tried and true method that dealerships have been using for as long as we can remember. But many times, people don’t go test drive a car until they’re pretty sure they want to purchase it. So how does a manufacturer use test driving to get new customers who are not already considering their vehicles? BMW has found a way.
The Ultimate Driving Experience is open to the public at race tracks across the country. But this is not your typical test drive. Rather than cruising comfortably through city streets or suburban neighborhoods, this experience lets you drive in ways you never have before. Spend two hours with professional driving instructors and get behind the wheel of a BMW 3 Series in their Autocross. M Car Control gets you access to a full day with driving coaches, slalom courses, and high-speed skids. The xDrive Experience is a cross between a driving course and a roller coaster, as you take the X5 and X7 through a specially designed course. And for those looking for a tamer experience, there are street drives and even a teen driving school program.
Doc McStuffin Check-up Campaign
When Disney Jr. was looking for a way to market the Doc McStuffin program to their young audience, they knew they wanted an out-of-the-box idea. The show is about a six-year-old girl who has created a health clinic for broken and ailing toys. What better way to promote this than by allowing kids to take on the role of toy doctor themselves?
At retail stores across the UK, a Doc McStuffin’s check up clinic allowed for just that. Big Ted, a larger than life teddy bear, was sick. And little ones could help diagnose and treat him. First, in the waiting room, kids got to watch clips from the show, and get creative with coloring pages and puzzles. Then came doctor training, where kids learned how to give a teddy bear check-up. Once they passed their exams, they got to take home a certificate and a “Doc Is In The House” door hanger to help them set up their own backyard clinics!
Inc. Founders House at SXSW
Inc. is a magazine and website catering to entrepreneurs and small business owners. When they wanted to spread brand awareness at SXSW, they came up with a useful and fun idea. The Inc Founders House is a “one-of-a-kind founders-only space for the extraordinary people starting, running, and growing businesses.”
Photo Courtesy of Inc. Media
During the festival, the Founders House hosts invite-only happy hours and speakers who can help the next wave of entrepreneurs get their projects off the ground. They’ve chosen some of the most influential founders to bring their own personal brands of inspiration to those who can benefit from them most. And the movement continues throughout the year with the Founders Project, which pairs top-notch founder mentors with up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
Online subscription clubs are huge right now. They’re a great way for brands to cut out the middle man and send their products directly to consumers. And the subscription concept virtually assures repeat business. What’s not to love? For Harry’s, a shaving subscription service, the difficult thing can be to get consumers to give up their tried and tested brand and make the switch.
Their solution? Harry’s Bartershop. (Yes, you read that right.) This pop-up shop in NYC allowed consumers to barter one overpriced brand name blade for two (or more) of Harry’s. The pop-up store was designed to look like a typical home bathroom, complete with bathtub, toilet, and vanity. But inside that vanity mirror awaits the staff, ready to help consumers trade in their old razors for new ones, and experience the quality and comfort of Harry’s products.
Did You Mean MailChimp?
Sometimes it can be hard for people to find your brand once they’ve seen your marketing. No matter how many times you repeat your business name, there will still be some folks who mishear it. And still others will be thwarted by typos and autocorrect fails. MailChimp has decided to take this problem and turn it into fun marketing for their brand.
They’ve created several brand sites: FailChips, MaleCrimp, NailChamp, WhaleSynth, VeilHymn, and SnailPrimp. Then there were the attention-grabbing short films, like MailShrimp, KaleLimp, and JailBlimp. It’s all part of their “Did You Mean” campaign. And it’s an incredibly memorable way to get their real name in front of new eyes. So whether you want to go behind the scenes on a music video shoot or vote for the best new trends in nail art, you’ll be directed back to the MailChimp site to learn more about their marketing platform.
Nivea Bubble Billboards
A fresh sheet of bubble wrap is hard to resist. The feeling of popping those little plastic pillows is unlike almost any other. Likewise, blowing soap bubbles is the sort of innocent fun that most people associate with happy childhood memories. What brand wouldn’t want their name associated with these sorts of activities?
Nivea found a way to make this association a reality with a new billboard campaign that has plenty of people talking. First is the giant “Reduce the bumps” billboard that’s covered with bubble wrap. It invites passers-by to pop to their heart’s content. Next they created a billboard with the tagline “Oxygen is a wonderful thing” that actually blows bubbles from a giant Nivea bottle.
Nutanix’s .NEXT Conference Tech Lab
Want the ultimate experiential marketing option? Instead of presenting your product at some industry conference, why not create your own? One tech brand has opted to do just that.
Photo Courtesy of Nutanix Inc.
The .NEXT Conference is an annual event sponsored by tech company Nutanix. More than just a brand spotlight, this full-fledged event is designed to help global IT leaders learn about the latest and greatest developments in data center and cloud tech. A key feature of the conference is the ability for attendees to get a first-hand look at the latest Nutanix products. There are also plenty of speakers, training and certifications, and hands-on labs too.
SYFY Karaoke Bus at Comic-Con
Comic-Con is probably the biggest pop-culture and geek gathering in the country. Every year fans and creators alike descend on San Diego for four days of fun and revelry. And if you’re in the comics, video game, fantasy, or sci-fi entertainment business, you definitely want to be there to reach your target audience.
The SYFY channel has found a fun and fantastic way to be a part of the festivities. They’ve created karaoke bus tours featuring the actors from their show “The Magicians”. On this slow-rolling double-decker bus, you can sing along with your favorite tunes and serenade onlookers. As if that wasn’t enough fun for one convention, they also employed a NOLA style marching band. And finally, they created a geek wedding chapel where couples were united in legally binding bliss by none other than Orlando Jones. It was all designed to celebrate the network’s 25th anniversary in true Comic-Con style.
Before pop-up restaurants, food truck were all the rage. In recent years, pop-up restaurants have become extremely successful, due in large part to their ability to instill a sense of urgency in consumers. For a deep-dive on how to start a pop-up restaurant, which includes tips, cost, and examples, check out 2nd Kitchen.
Why Proper Waitlist Management is Crucial to Experiential Marketing
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how amazing your concept is if it’s not well executed and well managed. And a good experiential marketing concept is bound to draw crowds, so you’ll need to be prepared for them. Long lines and unclear wait times are likely to chase potential customers away before they have the chance to interact with your brand. Instead, utilize a waitlist management solution, like NextME, to keep things moving efficiently and keep visitors happy and engaged as they wait.
NextME has played a big part in the success of several of the examples above. When BMW needed to manage the crowds at 16 different events in 16 cities across the country, NextME stepped up with a standardized tool to ensure quicker turnarounds at each location. When the .Next conference needed to manage the lines waiting to engage with their Hands-On Lab, NextME’s mobile guest engagement platform helped them increase brand awareness. And when the Karaoke busses at Comic-Con wanted a quick and easy way for attendees to digitally reserve their spot on the singalong tour, NextME allowed them to do just that.
As you’re planning your experiential marketing strategies, don’t forget that you’ll need a way to keep waiting guests happy. Contact NextME to discuss how this fully customizable solution can work for your brand strategy.
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