Where should you invest your money? There’s no easy answer to that nowadays. But I’m not talking about your own personal money; I’m talking about your marketing budget. Either way, what’s been successful in the past is not currently performing to brands’ lofty standards. TV, print ads, and banner ads all continue to be an integral piece of the marketing mix, but they don’t produce the results we need.
Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, the age of experiential marketing has dawned. No longer are events just a luxury add-on with spare dollars; they are an essential piece of every integrated campaign. In fact, 89 percent of marketers agree with that sentiment. So what exactly is driving this experiential marketing revolution? The short and easy answer: results.
1. More money, more problems
TV advertising does not provide the bang for the millions of bucks continually spent on it. What it does is cast a wide net—one with gaping holes in it. When purchase data is the most common measure of TV success, your conversion is extremely small. Consider only 1 percent of consumers viewing Super Bowl ads, each of which cost $5 million just to air this year, reported an increase in likelihood to purchase the promoted product. Sure, that’s still over 1 million consumers (112 million people reportedly watched the Super Bowl), but that’s strictly potential.
For the monster brands like Budweiser and Coca-Cola, TV is strictly the cost of competing. For smaller brands, awareness is the more important return in television, but we’re talking 15- to 30-second spots for you to make your point. Sounds a bit risky to me, like investing in today’s stock market. Experiential marketing, on the other hand, immerses consumers in an active experience that provides a personal touch and a sense of belonging. Numbers don’t lie, so when 87 percent feel like events are more effective than TV, do I even need to say more?
I don’t, but I’m going to. As I mentioned, it cost $5 million this year to air a Super Bowl commercial, but roughly one-fifth of that to produce an event at the Super Bowl Fan Experience—and that’s if we’re being generous. Now I’m talking about a fan experience attended by more than 200,000 rabid football fans, most of which are right in the middle of your target audience. At a certain point, you need to consider the experience everyone is receiving. This day in age, a personal one always wins.
2. Extend your marketing cycle
Marketing is not about driving singular purchases, but about forging lasting relationships. It’s through those relationships that you earn repeat purchases and ideally some free word-of-mouth advertising. So many mediums, like TV, are single touchpoint mediums. There’s no follow-up and no semblance of conversation between the consumer and the brand. Even with online marketing where you can re-target consumers based on search history and content engagement, there’s nothing personal about it. Experiential marketing flips the script on that statement.
Everything is personal, from your interaction with brand ambassadors to your actual experience inside the footprint to the digital content you take with you upon exit. It’s this personal touch that leaves you excited and wanting to share your experience with your friends and even the brand you encountered. Consumers no longer want to be caught sharing the same thing their friends and family are posting to their channels, so it’s the personalized content that continues to win out.
The value brands realize from their experience extends far beyond the personalized content though. There’s essential data tracked at every event to easily target consumers with exciting, new brand content and announcements. Beyond that, you provide an easy outlet to market yourself. Get a videographer on site to capture all of the excitement and interactions taking place for a concise highlight reel. Your marketing doesn’t end with the event; it’s only getting started!
3. Little fish in a big pond
Aside from the Super Bowl, consumers rarely give commercials a second thought. This can be attributed to a number of factors, like our increasingly dwindling attention span, but there’s a bigger issue at hand. As former comedian, Ernie Kovacs, once said, “Television is a medium, so called because it is neither rare nor well-done.” It’s the unfortunate truth, so when we’re forced to sit through commercials, we quickly begin to realize just how little we care and how infrequently we actually connect to the message at hand.
Television is passive advertising and presents a crowded battlefield for those looking to seize attention from those with dwindling attention spans. In short, it’s a losing battle. Experiential marketing sees a drastically different competitive field. One where regardless of location, there’s a cap to the number of competitors. Only so many brands can fit their experiences into a select space. With that space, you have hours to interact and engage your consumers rather than a quick 30-second spot that consumers may or may not see. If you don’t want to be the big fish in this situation, you’re just not thinking smart.
4. Show me the money
You didn’t think I’d forget about the bottom line did you? Well let me drop some knowledge on you. The number one barrier to a consumer purchase is the inability to try something out first. In fact, 98 percent of consumers interested in a product or service were more likely to purchase it following an event or experience, while 65 percent actually purchased the product or service following their experience. My final number for you is 29. Meaning 29 percent of companies reported returns of 10-to-1 or better on their experiential investment. Not a bad day at the office if you ask me.
Whether it’s brand perception, lead capture, or product purchase, experiential does it all and does it all better. Don’t ignore the writing on the wall—it won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
Jay Selig is a marketing and PR manager at RedPeg Marketing, an independent experiential marketing shop headquartered in D.C., with an office in L.A.