Experiential Marketing 101: How to ensure the success of your brand activation event

Whether you’re a retailer, restaurant, or industry event, experiential marketing is a great way for brands to create unique, hands-on, and engaging experiences that attract new customers and generate more loyal existing customers. And with the help of social media, this type of marketing has the potential to reach exponentially larger and more diverse audiences as people will be eager to share relevant content on their social media profiles. Think of experiential marketing as a grand accelerator of word of mouth marketing.

According to Event Marketer, experiential marketing is an extremely effective way to increase brand awareness and purchase intent. For example, a majority of consumers say:

  • they feel more positively about brands after viewing video from branded experiences and events
  • watching branded experience videos make them more likely to purchase the brand
  • friends’ posts about branded experiences makes them more likely to purchase the brand
  • they share two to five photos, videos, or posts on social media

So how do we create the most successful event possible? Here are eight tips to get you there.

  1. Aim for Unusual: Strive to create an unexpected and unique event. Handing out stickers and buttons or providing a photobooth is interesting but it’s also ordinary. There’s little for people to ‘write home about.’ But watch as Belgium’s TNT TV channel threw guns and robbers and ambulance chase in the middle of a quiet town, and Molson created a beer fridge that only accepts Canadian passports, and you’ve got a unique experience that people will remember and tell their friends about for a long time.
  1. Create fun: Rather than aiming to increase sales by including a sales booth, focus on activities that people will want to be a part of and share, events that make people who see the pictures want to be a part of the pictures. Successful experiential events create branded and brand relevant opportunities that encourage people to share their experiences with their friends, whether through analog or digital word of mouth. Create photoworthy backdrops for picture taking like TNT’s ambulance chase, Rav 4’s rock-climbing wall, or Globetrotter’s freezing rain room to try out new gear.

  1. Treat people like VIPs: Every consumer touchpoint is a reflection on your brand. Premium brands are known for offering top-notch customer service and leaving no need unmet. This is an absolute must during a brand activation event as well, and one that all brands should aim to emulate. Consider also offering people meaningful and exclusive take-aways – 10% off coupons won’t remind people how amazing your event was ten days after the fact.
  2. Create friendly hashtags: Hashtags are only useful if people can type them quickly and remember them days later when they tell yet another friend about the event. Focus on hashtags that use simple words, ordinary spellings, and help new viewers find and relate to the experience. For instance, Lean Cuisine used the #WeighThis hashtag to remind people that they are more than their weight.
  1. Privacy first: Ideally, you’d love to create a digital viral experience. But remember, personal preferences for privacy are highly variable. Before sharing images of people on any of your properties, get permission first, not only for children and vulnerable people (e.g., people who are disabled or elderly) but everyone. And rather than exclude people who do not want to be photographed, make sure events are inclusive of people who cannot agree to a broad privacy policy. Avoid policies such as, “Everyone participating in today’s events may be photographed.”
  2. Share the successes: With consent obtained, post the best pictures and videos and let everyone share in the joy that your customers experienced. Make sure customers know how to find your properties so they can share content easily.
  3. Create Ongoing Anticipation: One-time events are good, but on-going events are even better. Brands that have multiple locations might be able to take their brand activation event on ‘tour’ from store to store, city to city, or country to country creating anticipation as people wait for it to arrive local to them. Find ways to make each location unique while still maintaining the character and excitement of the original activation.
  4. Measure, measure, measure: In the ideal world, the end goal of the brand activation experience is to create meaningful and memorable experiences for people. But businesses have to stay afloat to do this which means there must be ROI. As part of the initial planning process, ensure you clearly define the goals and objectives of the event, and know how you will measure success. Create clear definitions such as number of attendees, number of social shares, and growth of hashtag usage over time. These types of vanity metrics are helpful for creating baseline metrics that can be tracked from year to year. More importantly, focus on creating metrics that will assess the health of the business as a result of the event. Conduct live interviews, on-site measurement, or post-event surveys to determine likelihood to recommend the brand, likelihood to purchase the brand, and even purchase rates 2 to 6 weeks post-event. Ensure these metrics are part of the plan from day one.

We’d love to help you plan your brand activation metrics. Please get in touch with us!

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