In my previous life, I managed a team of experiential marketers for Miller Lite to promote and sell featured products to consumers. In its basic form, these efforts involved playing games, giving out free marketing collateral and even free samples. In these few minutes of sampling, playing brand-themed iPad games and discussion, we were able to draw the consumer away from their current habits, immerse them in the brand and topic of discussion, and reinforce the benefits of our product. I’ll never forget one consumer I approached and he said, “I never really tried Miller Lite, until you and the Miller team gave me a free beer a few weeks back and talked with me about taste comparison to competitors. I’ve been drinking Miller since.”
What is experiential marketing? It is one of the fastest-growing and “hottest categories in the ad industry,” (Chicago Business Journal) which focuses on providing the ultimate consumer experience through events and activities that connect consumers with brands. The key to experiential marketing is immersing your target in all that your brand has to offer. This is where passive vs. active marketing really comes into play.
Here are a few famous examples:
-Gillette promoted their razors by setting up a barber event set in select cities. Male consumers were invited to get a free shave with the Gillette products.
-Ikea furnished hotels with tables, sofas, beds, chairs and even utensils for guests to enjoy during their stay.
-Keeping with their campaign to spread happiness, Coca-Cola implemented a vending machine, dubbed the Hug Machine, at the National University of Singapore that gave students a free can when students would physically hug the machine.
In each situation, these brands tapped into the features and benefits of their products and let consumers experience it. For a brief moment, the brand completely encapsulated the public’s mind and left a lasting impression with each participant, in a way that didn’t feel like advertising or relationship marketing, but actually was.
I once saw a presentation from a designer whose theory is to create the perfect design via multisensory experiences. Isn’t that fantastic? If you can create something that allows consumers to tap into sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, it creates emotions and memories. Isn’t that what we, as marketers, strive for? We want our brand to be the first thought when prompted by a particular topic, word or idea. How can you, in B2C, B2B or social marketing, create experiences that get you closer to your customer?