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How & Why 'Experiential Marketing' Should be High on a Company's Vocab List

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

[Originally published on July 8, 2018 by Jeanette]

As much as I try and steer away from quoting Wikipedia, their definition of Experiential Marketing (also known as engagement marketing, special events and event marketing) is spot on.

They define experiential marketing as a strategy "that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience." They go on to say that instead of a company seeing consumers as passive message-receivers, experiential or engagement marketing professionals believe that the consumer should be an active participant in the production, creation and execution of the company's marketing programs and campaigns, which is achieved by developing a trusting relationship with said brand.

For existing customers and raving fans of a company, the loyalty is already there. But what about breaking into new communities and developing a trusted relationship with these potential customers and long-term brand fans?

This type of forward-thinking marketing reach takes responsibility on behalf of the company as well as a genuine interest in their customer and potential consumers' needs.

In Nina Simon's book, The Art of Relevance, she talks about the people inside of an institution ("insiders") needing to do the leg-work and find what's truly relevant to new communities ("outsiders"), meet them on their terms and welcome them in with open arms. In a nutshell, "[Relevance] is not about connecting something new with information you already have. It's about how likely that new information is to yield conclusions that matter to you," according to page 36 of Simon's book.

So if a company were to create an event, for example, that matters to a new group of people in hopes to retain them as loyal customers, then that company needs to establish relevance to the group of people they're speaking to.

A practical and successful example of this type of marketing campaign comes from Lively brand's special events held around the nation. "We're an online brand that is made for real life, and we take every chance we can to get offline and out in the world," writes Lively on their 'events' page. "We love to meet up, hang out and hear what you have to say. So, watch this space for news about pop-ups, parties and more. You never know where we will be next!" Genius.

Lively extends different themed events like musical performances, wine-tastings, networking mixers, classes, you name it, into major cities around the U.S. They've created an ethos and strong culture around their "boss babe" campaign, and invite women of all shapes and sizes to participate in Lively's branding; they've literally created their brand around what their consumers need and want.

In my own experience working as a brand ambassador for companies like Esurance, Yahoo!, Rakuten and Google Pay, I've had a chance to use my performing arts and circus skills in activations that would normally include interaction on a more basic level, all in the name of experiential. My personal favorite moment was holding a Flag or Iron X (the horizontal body position on any vertical bar apparatus) from a nearby stop sign at a transit station while a crowd of onlookers oohhed, aahhed and snapped photos while waiting to hop on the Esurance party bus headed to the 49ers game at Levi Stadium. The bus was free, compliments of Esurance as a way to provide fun transportation to the game and get to know a new bus-load of potential customers. Then, when that activation got shut down for competing reasons with the VTA, Esurance snatched me up and put me inside the stadium to help facilitate their social media campaign from Snapchat. Anyone who followed Esurance's Snapchat and then came to our location where I was doing handstands and leaps off of cement structures, would receive a free field pass, scarves, and even a meet-n-greet with a former Niners quarterback.

This was one of many activations that Jeanette participated in between 2017 and 2019 for a variety of different brand experiences before launching her own in 2019.
Esurance experiential marketing campaign at Levi's Stadium, 2017.

So, as I continue to help my fellow marketing professionals introduce the idea of experiential, engagement and event marketing strategies to various different communities worldwide, I hope that companies and brands who want to thrive in today's society will adopt and embrace this method as a viable way to reach to new potential customers and future raving fans.

Interested in my guerrilla marketing tactics? Check out my company at Stellaria.Company and drop me a line!

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