What is experiential marketing?
Experientia… What? Marketing has changed, have you noticed? TV ads get muted or switched off to another channel, some Internet display ads creep people out as they follow what you look at while shopping online and email spamming lost its glory years ago (thank goodness). So what’s next?
Experiential Marketing has been making its way in to our hearts for some time now, even if you haven’t noticed it. As a society we want more from a business, we want an experience… come on – engage us!
THAT is experiential marketing
For most people that use this term (which granted, is not the majority yet), they are referring to live events such as meetups, workshops and conferences. You may be familiar with the TED/TEDx talks that have swept the world over the past 5+ years. Guess how they did it – they focused on what people want to experience – inspiration! And they did it better than anyone.
I didn’t even realize what was being created back in 1997 when starting my SEO Academy in New Mexico, but entering in to a market where very few understood my service, I had to get creative. That is where Experiential Marketing entered my business with the creation of free introductory workshops to educate my target market. BAM! It was an almost instant success filling workshops with students that wanted to learn. When it was time to expand to Arizona, meetup.com was my conduit; people came every time I made the trek out there and once again filled those workshops effortlessly.
But it’s more than just showing up
Let’s be clear, it’s more than just showing up. The key is creating an experience that engages the people you attracted; I’m not talking a circus show here. Get creative and think about what your target audience wants to experience when they work with you or attend an event. So far, authenticity is making big impact. For me, it was being authentic and listening to my audience, answering their questions, and not holding back… being available. What’s yours?
Not convinced? I’ll share another success story of my own – TEDx in both Albuquerque and Corpus Christi were created using the exact same concept. Meetup.com was used again in New Mexico to attract like-minded individuals to a monthly gathering to watch and talk about TED talks. They loved the experience and invited their friends – the next month was bigger.
Now, TEDxABQ is the largest event in the country! Are you familiar with the culture of Corpus Christi, Texas? It is a town working hard to build a new identity within a culture stymied in its past failures; the over-arching feeling is things will never change… until they did. In 2011, I decided Corpus Christi needed the inspiration of great ideas and off I went with my Experiential Marketing hat on!
In just four months, that city went from not having a clue about what TEDx was to selling out an event that even the mayor attended. The community poured out their support with sponsorships, attendance, and sharing their experience with their friends. They were astounded that great ideas were sitting right there in their city, a spark was lit and the journey began.
The focus is not on you
Experiential Marketing is focusing on the experience of your customer (or following); creating how they will experience working with you. The business does not necessarily have to do live events to integrate experiential marketing… but it can really help. Engagement is the key to success in today’s economy, people ARE still spending money – but they are requiring more in return. An experience is your differentiating component.