Tag Archive for: experiential marketing

What is Experiential Marketing? (And Why Your Business Needs It)

The Power of Association

It’s safe to say that the human mind tends to associate experiences (both positive and negative) to the objects surrounding them. These associations are the reason why that piece of warm apple pie reminds you of your grandmother, or why you just can’t bring yourself to toss out a band tee you bought at your favorite concert. The idea that individuals form emotional attachments to products through experience has been explored constantly in consumer psychology, and it is the reason why Experiential Marketing is such an effective strategy.

Experiences that create positive memories, if successfully associated with your product or service, can have a huge impact on your audience’s emotion. So, your understanding of this concept is crucial to developing successful marketing campaigns for your brand. In this post, we’ll talk about some of experiential marketing’s many benefits and give you some examples that make us say, “Now THAT’S how it’s done.” But before we jump into that, let’s start with a quick definition.

What is Experiential Marketing?

According to ngdata.com, Experiential Marketing is “an advertising strategy that focuses on helping consumers experience a brand.” Experiential marketing veers off course from traditional strategies that broadcast brand and product benefits to a wide audience. Also referred to as engagement marketing, experiential marketing may be comprised of a variety of marketing strategies geared toward immersing consumers within the product by engaging them in as many ways as possible.

Ultimately, companies utilizing this strategy want to help customers form memorable, emotional connections with a brand to foster customer loyalty and improve customer lifetime value (CLV).

Participants can take part in these events either actively or passively and the experiences can take form at sponsored events, pop-up activations or even online.

Why Should My Company Market through Experiences?

Differentiating your Brand

We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with information through social media, television, and radio programming. And while those strategies have proven to be effective, they have the tendency to become repetitive, impersonal and easy for your audience to tune-out. Additionally, the conversation between you and the consumer through many traditional avenues of marketing is one-sided, without much opportunity to receive feedback in real-time.

Because of this oversaturation in the digital realm, experiential marketing tends to thrive in areas where digital strategies usually fall short. Allowing individuals to experience your brand instead of just passively acknowledging its existence is key in making yourself stand out against competitors.

Meeting the Consumer on Their Terms

One of the best ways to turn your audience off to the idea of your brand is to create a campaign that is intrusive, an interference or just plain annoying. While most forms of traditional marketing run the chance of being a nuisance, many individuals who take part in experiential marketing events do so voluntarily. By taking your marketing efforts to the place that consumers already are, the likelihood of positive reception increases. Exciting and passionate events such as concerts and sporting tournaments are great examples of places that your audience already wants to be.

But an opportunity also presents itself in the everyday locations that individuals have to be. Schools, parks and other areas individuals use in their daily commute are great places where introducing a fun or interesting experience can break monotony and create a productive interaction between consumer and brand. Watch below to see how Weight Watchers set up an affirming, interactive display at Grand Central Station.

According to the EventTrack 2018 Experience Marketing Forecast, consumers stated that one of their top two preferred advertising channels were events and experiences. In fact, Consumers prefer to understand their products through events and experiences 15% more than with social media ads.  “By a significant margin, consumers say the top two advertising channels that best help them understand the benefits of products and services are brand websites and events and experiences. Essentially all other marketing channels and brand-controlled information sources are considered secondary to consumers.”

Sensodyne Brings “The Great Sensitivity Test” to The Consumer

To give you an example, a case study by the Hotcow Agency highlights “The Great Sensitivity Test,” which was an experience created for Sensodyne in 2013 and placed in London’s Potter Field. The activity was broken up into three zones, each having an activity for participants to engage in. The first zone was the “Sensitivity Zone,” and allowed individuals to undergo a quick dental exam to check for sensitivity, get advice from professionals, and play games for prizes. The second zone included a giant molar that guests could have their pictures taken next to and the third zone gave visitors the opportunity to take the “World’s Largest Oral Hygiene Lesson” with the chance of landing their name in the Guinness Book of World Records.

This experience is a great example of meeting the consumer where they already are. By taking the experience to a highly populated location like Potter Field, Sensodyne is delivering to its audience an immersive and interesting experience to their every day activities. Additionally, like many companies, the success of Sensodyne’s product relies on people being able to fully understand it’s potential to benefit to their lives. Allowing the audience to have a physical, informative interaction through dental exams and product samples gives them a chance to familiarize themselves with the brand.

Creating an Emotional Connection

a midsummer night's run lexington kyOne of the best ways to create a positive emotional connection between your brand and your audience is to become a part of their favorite moments. Whether that be in the form of partnering or sponsoring events that your audience already loves, or manufacturing unique moments they won’t forget, creating the connection between these memorable experiences and your brand is an insanely effective way to create a positive brand image that will last.

The EventTrack 2018 Experience Marketing Forecast states that “Eighty-five percent of consumers are likely to purchase after participating in events and experiences, and over 90% have more positive feelings about brands after attending.”


Getting to know a company or brand is a very similar process to getting to know people. It is possible to have conversations over the phone or online all day, but until there is real, meaningful contact, you are still just an icon on a screen. This is why experiences play such an important role in developing a relationship with your audience. Because participants of these experiences get to have a real-time, physical exchange with your brand, there is a greater ability for them to form a meaningful connection with it. This connection helps them better understand the benefits of the relationship on a personal level, and because of that, you are not just some icon behind a screen anymore, but have become an impactful part of their lives.

Types of Experiential Marketing

Grass Roots Marketing

The strategy of grass roots marketing is very different from what many traditional tactics involve. Instead of targeting a large audience with the intent of reaching as many people as possible, grassroots marketing aims its efforts at small, very specific groups of influencers. The hope is that this group of influencers will then spread your message through word-of mouth and social media efforts. Grassroots marketing is a great option for small businesses, due to the fact that it is so cost effective and useful for smaller campaigns.


Donald Glover Targets Niche Audience Through Coachella Airdrop


At this year’s Coachella Festival, Donald Glover pulled a very unique marketing program. Select attendees of the festival received a notification asking them to accept an airdropped photo from Glover. The photo in question? A picture of shoes – his unreleased collaboration with Adidas. According to Marketing Land, “The lucky recipients had to sign a contract stating they would wear the shoes, attend the show, and keep the shoes on all weekend.”

Adidas relied on the select group of influential individuals chosen to promote their product. The program spread like wildfire through word-of-mouth at the festival and on social media, making the promotion a great example of effective grassroots marketing.

Event Marketing

Event Marketing is planning an event with the purpose to promote a company’s brand, product or service by providing an experience to the consumer. But, isn’t this basically the same strategy as Experiential Marketing as a whole? Well, not quite. Event Marketing and Experiential Marketing, while similar, are not synonymous. Event marketing does give the consumer an experience, but it does not encompass every aspect that experiential marketing can be. And while every marketing event is considered experiential, not all experiential marketing takes the form of an event. Event Marketing usually comes in the form of launch parties, contests and challenges, Festivals or conferences.

Chipotle Creates the “Cultivate Festival”

chef graham elliot chipotle cultivate food festivalChipotle started its Cultivate festivals in 2010 to inform attendees on brand vision and values through a fun and interesting platform. The events feature live music, chef demonstrations and interactive experiences. These festivals are great examples of using events to create a conversation about your brand vision and values.

In a 2016 news release by Chipotle, their chief creative and development officer stated “We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food, and that includes helping people understand how food is raised and prepared. The Cultivate events allow us to bring people together for a celebration of food and music, but also to educate them about how food can be raised responsibly and prepared safely.”

Brand Activation

A brand activation is the showcase or launch of a company’s new product through consumer interaction. Some of the most obvious forms of brand activation include product sampling and trials. The ability for a potential customer to touch, feel, and look at a product strengthens trust towards that item and its potential to meet their needs. The opportunity to physically interact with a product allows the individual to better visualize the real benefits they would receive from it.

Budweiser Shows Story Behind Product with The Beer Garage

Budweiser Beer Garage

The Budweiser Beer Garage is an event by Anheuser-Busch that offers attendees the “Ultimate

Budweiser Experience.” The event, which is also part of the SXSW interactive festival, uses virtual reality goggles, along with wind, sound, and scent effects to transport participants far from Austin, Texas to the famous Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery. In addition to the virtual trip to St. Louis, attendees were able to hear from leading entrepreneurs and tech giants (all while sipping on a Signature Draft beer, of course).

Interested in Learning More?


At BRAINBOX Intelligent Marketing, we have 20 years of experience creating an emotional connection between brands and customers. We work directly with clients to develop creative solutions to support them in achieving their goals. If you’d like to chat about using experiences to drive brand growth, give us a call or shoot us a message


Images: Hot Cow, Anheuser Busch, Steve Jennings/Getty Images North America


3 Ways to Engage With The Community and Drive Profits

In the world of marketing “community and social engagement” have come to mean a wide variety of things. For some marketers, community engagement refers to the activity among a base of users and customers that regularly use a brand’s products or services. For others, community engagement can be synonymous with social responsibility, which sometimes has political connotations.

But we like to take a different approach.

What does it really mean to engage with the community?

Here at BRAINBOX, we believe being community-minded goes far beyond aligning with a certain social cause. Community engagement is about being on the ground with your audience at events that matter to them, providing experiences that will stay with them for years to come.

Because the BRAINBOX team has activated brands at events all across the country, we wrote this article to help marketing managers and business owners see how they can engage with the community in an authentic way that drives profits and maximizes ROI. Here are our top three key steps to running a successful community engagement campaign.

Do Your Research. Know As Much As Possible About Your Target Audience

If you want your community engagement efforts to drive profits, it’s important you pick the right community. As with other types of marketing, when it comes to experiential marketing, knowing your audience is your biggest and most valuable asset. With that in mind, it’s important to do research to determine what groups and causes matter most to the people your brand is trying to reach.

How much information is enough?

One of the biggest challenges in market research is knowing when you’ve collected enough data about your target audience. You could send out surveys for years and still continue to discover new insights.

Marketers have a (sometimes unhealthy) love affair with data and numbers, but we’re not always the best at strategically applying what’s relevant and not wasting time on what’s not.

Part of this is because marketing departments are often tasked with accomplishing the goals of others: HR wants help recruiting, Sales wants help driving new business, the Operations Manager wants clearer internal communications. With each of these segments of the company competing for the marketing department’s limited time, you never know what information will suddenly become useful.

But unless you’ve got a full time data analyst at your disposal, sometimes you have to develop a bit of tunnel vision to avoid a classic case of analysis paralysis.

In the end, the key to segmenting relevant information is always going to come down to your target audience. Once you know these five things, you have enough information to begin crafting a community-oriented event.

  1. Where does your audience get their information?
  2. What are they reading and watching, online and offline?
  3. Where does your audience fall on the political spectrum?
  4. Which causes or organizations does your audience donate money to?
  5. What is the end state they are attempting to achieve? What are their goals for success?

What do you do with the information once you find it?

Knowing the answers to the questions above should help you establish some clear boundaries for creating an event. From this data, you should be able to discern what your audience cares about and how to promote your event once you create it.

Actually Be A Community-Minded Company

If being socially-minded is important in today’s climate, being authentic is even more vital. So as your company is choosing community initiatives that align with its social stance, make sure you’re picking things that truly matter to you and your audience.

The best philanthropic and community campaigns have posterity that extends beyond this quarter, especially in the age of the internet. People are going to be coming across press releases and social posts of your community efforts for years to come, so make sure that your message and actions are consistent.

An example: Patagonia

Patagonia Worn Wear experiential marketing campaignNo company is better at this than Patagonia.

Their business model is a simple one: they sell apparel and accessories to people who participate in outdoor activities for recreation and work.

It stands to reason that their target audience would be interested in protecting the environment, but Patagonia goes much further than a standard fundraiser or donation to an environmental charity.

Instead, the company organizes protests and community activism centered around conservation and is transparent about making its supply chain increasingly eco-friendly.

Will everyone agree with the company’s stance on things like climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and their approach to helping solve those problems? No, but no one doubts the company’s sincerity because over the past four decades they’ve been incredibly consistent in their beliefs, which have shaped every aspect of their business.

Be Clear About Your Goals. Plan For Tracking ROI Before You Start.

If you’re a Marketing Manager, you’re evaluated by the ROI of your marketing efforts. So while there’s nothing wrong with creating a community engagement campaign for purely philanthropic reasons (i.e. without expecting your company to tangibly benefit), at the end of the day (or quarter, or year) your business needs to make money. Even nonprofits have to track how the amount of donations come through fundraising events.

Track everything.

ipad with marketing dataSo you know who your target audience is and you’ve chosen a cause or event that aligns with what matters to both that audience and your company. The next step is determining your KPI’s for your campaign and crafting a clear method to track them.

Do you want to create awareness by activating your brand at a community event?
Start by recording attendees to reach out to them in another campaign.

Considering offering a discount for one of your products?
Coupons, when used correctly, are really the gift that keeps on giving. Even if you’re giving away products to a community partner or group for free, you can track online and in-store purchases from that community if you issue a coupon that’s specific to that campaign with your donation.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Call the Experts.

Are you looking to engage with your customers at events they find significant? Not sure where to start concerning research or tracking KPI’s that will make you look like a marketing rockstar? Don’t stress. Contact the BRAINBOX team for help to get your national, regional, or local event up and running.

We’ve even got no stress, turn-key experiential marketing solutions to get your brand in front of thousands of people on the ground and online.  So whether you need help crafting a custom experiential marketing solution, identifying and targeting your audience, or promoting your event to the press, our team of experts can help make your event a success.

Think outside the box with BRAINBOX.

Photo Credit: Patagonia

3 Best Ways To Grow Your Audience

To succeed and thrive in today’s ever-changing digital marketing world, there are thousands of things you can do but there are a few that you must do. This article explains a few key components that are necessary to make sure that your business reaches the right people. And, how to  continually improve that skill in order to grow your audience over time.

Are you doing these three things to grow your audience?

1. Know your audience inside and out.

group of friends in the sunshineThe most crucial part of growing an engaged audience is getting to know them. For example, do you know whether your audience likes more, or less, frequent interaction or digital touches? Or do they prefer a day or two in between reach outs?

Does your audience respond more favorably to photos or videos? Do you know where your audience spends their time? What websites do they visit and what content best gets a response from them?


Knowledge of them through market research, surveys and audience observation is essential. Their preferences will drive your interaction and its success.

2. Provide value beyond the point of sale.

Once you understand who your audience is and what makes them tick, you must then build a strategy to meet their needs. This is the point where their needs and or desires meet your offerings and abilities which will result in their selecting you to meet those needs. Knowing what you have to offer is vital in understanding how it can benefit the audience.

workplace teamTo make a plan that meets their needs, ensure that you aren’t offering a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Focus on the real issues and offer solutions through your strategy.

A trap many marketers fall into is focusing solely on their products and then selling those products as the only solution. Don’t do that! Instead, understand their needs first and you build trust with your audience.

One thing to note while building your strategy is the offering of a product sale versus providing them a lifestyle message. Rather than be all product focused all the time, try adding value to their lives – make your marketing campaign about a lifestyle vs a product.

How does the product that you are marketing match an aspirational lifestyle? Most audiences today see right through the “sales-y” approach. But if the product is shown to be relevant to their lifestyle, you’ve made a connection.

3.  Be ready to adapt.

Lastly, as you are growing your audience, you must stay relevant. The solutions of yesterday won’t work today and don’t assume they will! Take a step back – just because you have been marketing a certain way or offering a certain product for years, do not assume this means it remains valuable to your audience. Listen, Learn, Repeat and grow.

Test, test, then test again.

science lab equipment

One way to do this is to stand out – be different and always adapt! One example of this is, if you are focused solely on digital and social marketing, be different…expand your message ‘to the street’ with experiential marketing. More and more, audiences want to be able to see a product or brand face to face, vs on their mobile device or computer screen. Experiential marketing gives marketers the extended opportunity to interact with their potential audience in a unique way, and to provide an experience to the audience they may not otherwise get.

And the best part about getting to know your audience and directly interacting with them either digitally or face to face is that they will tell you want they want, what they need, and what they’re interested in now and in the future. The key is listening more and hearing better.

So go out and meet the world with enthusiasm and remember: it is, always has been and always will be about the customer.

Need help with your audience?

Market research can be hard, especially for small business starting from scratch. Luckily, the Brainbox team is here to help. We offer everything from persona creation and customer value journey workshops to full reports on the people and markets you’re trying to reach. Give us a call at 859.225.4488 or contact us today.

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