Experiential Marketing Campaigns – What Are They & Can Micro Businesses Use Them?

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Man With Speech BubbleExperiential marketing campaigns are fast proving popular with big brands, but what are they, and can Micro businesses take advantage of the same tactics?

What Are Experiential Campaigns

Experiential marketing centres around campaigns that have a very high level of engagement.

Usually experiential campaigns are designed to leave a lasting impression on those that experience them, ideally cementing the ‘right’ sort of feeling with the brand that hosted the campaign.

By closely targeting the experiential event to match the demographic of a brands customers, field & experiential marketing agencies are able to increase brand awareness, and generate a ‘buzz’ around a product or service.

Experiential campaigns are often cross-channel, drawing on a mixture of offline and online tactics, and the benefits of experiential campaigns are widespread:

  • Raise awareness of a new product or service
  • Increase uptake in product trial
  • Increase brand image & loyalty
  • Build relationships between a brand & its customer base
  • Trigger excellent word-of-mouth buzz

Although there are many types of campaign under the experiential marketing banner, let’s take a look at a couple of different types of campaigns that come under the ‘experiential’ banner, and then consider ways that micro businesses could emulate the tactics that big brands use.

Experiential Style 1 – High-Profile Experiential Stunts

These campaigns are often designed to interrupt everyday life, providing an exciting distraction.

Events like this are best suited to brands that want to engage with young, dynamic people, such as demographics that are interested in adventure sports. Sometimes these types of campaigns are designed to interact in the real world with just one or two people, but then go viral online, such as:

Pepsi Max’s ‘Test Drive’

Other campaign can be designed to target a wider demographic, as demonstrated in:

The National Geographic

Or Spanair’s ‘Unexpected Luggage’ –

As with most marketing, it is vital to choose the right experiential campaign for a brands target audience. Getting this match right can make, or break a campaign.

How Could Micro Businesses Draw Inspiration From This

Although large campaigns like those above generally need the backing of professional agencies, smaller micro businesses can use similar tactics on a much smaller scale.

For example, drawing inspiration from the ‘big red button’ campaign, a local cake shop in a town centre shopping mall could pre-arrange with the centres management to host a ‘flash-mob cake fight’ (think: Bugsy Malone). Obviously planning would be needed to ensure no members of the public get caught in the cake ‘cross-fire’, but with well briefed staff (AKA family & friends) and strict rules about not throwing cakes in the public close proximity, this ‘organized chaos’ in a city centre location would certainly attract attention!

Of course it would be wise to have a couple of video cameras recording, and with just a few edits, the piece could be a YouTube mini-hit. (Although for a video to truly go viral fore-planning and blogger & social outreach would help, as would sending hi-res images and links to the video to local press).

Experiential Style 2 – On-The-Road Events

Whether it be a tour of city centre shopping malls or a presence at a music festival, roadshows are a great way to conduct experiential marketing campaigns.

Often tied with free product sampling, these campaigns can be a great way to really engage with your target audience in a positive way, at a point when they are having fun – an excellent way to grow brand awareness and loyalty.

One example of how a large brand might take advantage of a road-show is a summer tour of top music events.

At a bright & sunny music festival, having a branded ‘road-show van’ in the name of a leading sun cream manufacturer, that gives out free ‘mini-samples’ of sun cream, along with a small colourful leaflet about the dangers of catching too many rays whilst unprotected could be a great way to promote a brand. If the leaflets were a little humorous, with a cartoon-style message about falling asleep in the sun after too much partying, then the message could spread further still.

Additionally this campaign could be carried out in conjunction with an ‘experiential stunt’ in the vein mentioned in the first section, that further brings attention to the sampling campaign.

How Could Micro Businesses Draw Inspiration From This

Keeping with the music festival scenario, a scaled-down version of this could see a micro-brewery giving away free (small) samples of its beer, along with a humorous pamphlet with the funniest recipes for ‘hangover cures’ (with disclaimer about NOT to try them!). Obviously in this example the event would have to have an adult audience, and would be subject to the licensing rules of the event.

Another option would be giving out free samples at a local beer festival, or perhaps even arranging with the landlord of a popular pub to have a free sampling evening.

Holding an open day at the micro-brewery is also a possibility, with talks about the brewing process, and free samples of the beers (a-la wine tasting events at vineyards!). Attendees could even be asked to ‘check-in’ via social networks mobile apps if they have them, or to Tweet about the event with a pre-defined branded hash-tag, for a chance to win a prize.

Experiential Needn’t be Expensive

For a micro business wanting to gain a little more exposure, help get across the personality of their brand, and kick-start their social media presence, a small experiential marketing event need not be price prohibitive.

That said, for a large brand wanting to increase their market share, improve brand image, and engage with a much wider audience (either of the public in general, or a set demographic), a much larger campaign is needed, with professional planning.
For that reason we have collated a list of leading experiential marketing agencies below.

Experiential Agency List:

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Have you used experiential marketing in your micro business? What examples could you share? And if this idea is new to you, why not take some time out today to decide how you could apply these tactics to grow your own business.