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Event Planner’s Guide to Maximizing Experiential Marketing

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Because events are designed to reach people through interactive elements or shared activities, they are not considered part of traditional advertising and marketing methods such as print ads, broadcast TV or radio ads, billboards, email marketing, and digital/web ads. Instead, events are typically the foundation of experiential marketing, which includes everything from meetings and conventions to pop-up stores and virtual engagements. 

The most effective uses of experiential marketing are those that tap into guest emotions, engage guests in unique settings, or deliver unexpected activities that connect people to a brand or organization. Here’s how to make the most of experiential marketing tactics for your next event. 

event microphone

Add an Extra Layer

Yes, event marketing is already a form of experiential marketing, but that doesn’t mean you should let the idea of creating an experience stop at the basics. The event’s purpose doesn’t change, but it becomes more enriching by adding another level to the experience or presenting it in a new way. 

An awards show is an excellent gathering… but what about an awards concert? In this case, honorees are still recognized, but guests can now sing or dance along instead of sitting in chairs and applauding. By adding the element of live music to the event, there is more to engage the audience.  

Your next product launch doesn’t have to be a video presentation or a demonstration only… it can be a scavenger hunt that slowly reveals small pieces of information and product features. The thrill of discovery makes a more memorable impact in people’s minds, and they arrive at a full presentation with a better understanding and the ability to ask better questions or provide more insightful feedback. 

Ask yourself and your team how to add an extra layer to the primary event platform. Then, see which ideas seem most appealing or relevant to your audience and develop an execution plan.  

A word of caution – resist the urge to add too many extras. This can result in experience overload, which means guests have so much to take in that they can’t process or remember it all. Instead, stick to one or two “wow” factors per event session. 

event planners experiential marketing

Get People Moving 

Suppose you’ve noticed guests restless during a seated seminar or blank stares during a yearly brand review. In that case, you’ve already seen how experiential marketing can fail to achieve its goal. That’s because people want to interact with their environments and those around them. When guests have something to “do,” they get more out of the event. 

This can be as simple as interactive surveys or audience polls that happen in real time with wireless buttons or smartphone applications. “Did you know” style questions work well in this scenario, as do “How many of you believe…” conversations that give guests multiple options for their responses. 

It could also be a team-building activity like creating a collaborative piece of art or playing a round of miniature golf. Still, in this case, valuable facts and figures are integrated into the activity that you want people to know. 

The metaverse and virtual worlds are also excellent ways to get people moving, both for in-person events and virtual ones. With VR goggles, motion-capture technologies, or touch-screen capabilities, your guests could demo their virtual product instead of watching from a distance. Even better, you don’t have to produce multiple physical prototypes, just a single digital one that can be repeated an infinite number of times. You can even end up with essential data regarding which features guests use most, which they liked or disliked, and what needs improvement going forward. 

event lemon

Be On Brand 

In the rush to be creative and outside the box, some event planners must remember to keep the brand or organization front and center. That awards show concert is an exciting idea, but it’s less effective if the event’s purpose is to honor those who have contributed to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Something more interactively visual or centered around the sense of touch may be more appropriate. 

Ideally, you want guests to know who is presenting this event and why without being told. Utilizing brand colors is a good start, as is trying to reflect brand history or highlight a product.  

You’re planning an event to launch a new perfume. It’s inspired by citrus and lemon notes. Filling the room with the scent is one option, but what if guests walked through an orange or lemon grove with potted trees throughout the venue? What if citrus fruit baskets were all labeled with the leading brand’s logo? These would be more effective than an event theme focused on ice sculptures or chocolate fountains. Consistent branding helps people make stronger mental and emotional connections. 

The secret to maximizing your experiential marketing results is always being willing to explore further. Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean you should avoid considering a new venue, activity, entertainment, or technology. Take the additional time to discover what will and won’t work for your brand or organization. The odds are, if it’s an experience you would find unforgettable, your guests will, too. 

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