If you’re tired of trying to promote your brand through congested marketing channels, you have other options.
Experiential and influencer marketing are the two leading approaches to connect with your audience on a deeper level and achieve a handsome ROI. More importantly, neither take a traditional marketing approach.
That’s why a growing number of brands are combining their influencer program into their experiential marketing events and vice versa. As you plan your next experiential marketing event, we invite you to follow our step-by-step guide to creating an experiential marketing event and generate the most out of your campaign.
Experiential Marketing in 2020
Instead of joining the shrieking voices of today’s TV, radio, pop-up, and print advertising, creative brands are looking for better ways to engage their audience.
An emerging marketing approach, experiential marketing, delivers multi-sensory, no-strings-attached experiences to customers.
Three-quarters of brands surveyed indicated that they intended to increase marketing expenditures towards those mediums offering a more long-lasting consumer experience – namely experiential marketing events. Experiential marketing is the perfect mix of live-event and personalized marketing.
Not only do brands see substantial ROI, but consumers walk away with a smile on their face. Experiential events bring people together and convert a brand’s products and services into fun activities for individuals and groups.
For example, the X Games shoe brand Vans regularly hosts skate events in their large retail spaces and pop-up shops. Last year, Vans used experiential marketing techniques to promote women skateboarders around the world.
Netflix, Ikea, and Krispy Kreme are just a few other brands well-known for delivering unique experiences to their customers – not just paid products. Experiential marketing endears customers to your organization and accelerates brand awareness.
The Value of Connection and Authenticity
Experiential and influencer marketing bypass the fake and intrusive approach of traditional and paid advertising.
The experience of being able to touch, see, hear and be part of brand messaging heightens the senses and builds a sense of connection with fellow consumers. When influencers arrive on the experiential marketing scene, they leverage authentic media to enhance everyone’s sense of connectedness further.
What is Authentic Media?
The broader term “authentic media” commonly refers to hilarious and heady talk shows with hosts like Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, and Trevor Noah. Audiences can engage their minds on relevant current events with a healthy dose of cynical comic relief.
But authentic media doesn’t have to be cynical or even funny. The key ingredient is “pandering-free” content. This content is transparent enough to resonate and inclusive enough to digest for the average person.
In the world of social media, users long for honesty. Wanna-be influencers that fake their impact are considered non-authentic. Looking at engagement metrics over vanity metrics will help you avoid working with fake influencers.
Real influencers are successful because they’ve mastered the art of authentic media. Followers seek content that makes them feel empowered and connected. And authentic media does just that.
How Does Connection Generate ROI?
Connection is built on trust. Authentic media can create this connection apart from an audience member having to know an influencer personally.
Influencers earn trust with their audience. Because influencers command an authentic voice with their online community, brands will hire them as objective, third-party ambassadors (Relationship Marketing – The Art of Influence and Experience).
Additionally, influencers are fellow consumers. Influencers bring the benefits of customer reviews plus authoritative word-of-mouth to members of their audience.
Last year, influencer programs raked in an astounding 6.5 for 1 ROI. In other words, spend $1, get $6.50 back. Influencer marketing campaigns continue to outshine other marketing mediums as they leverage trusted referrals and thought leader endorsements for increased sales and brand awareness.
What is the Role of Influencers in Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing campaigns are often sizable efforts that cut through the noise of traditional marketing. An experiential approach to sales events yields significant rewards to marketers that know how to connect with consumers.
To ensure success, experiential marketers are increasingly enlisting the help of influencers for their campaign events.
Not only do influencers act as one consumer representing many, but they can also drive sales, brand awareness, and broader consumer participation. Brands that marry their experiential campaign with an influencer campaign achieve much higher levels of success. Additionally, most influencers thoroughly enjoy the experience no less than the average consumer.
Steps to Creating an Experiential Marketing Campaign
Step 1: Set Objectives
What do you want your experiential campaign to accomplish?
You should have both short-term (drive revenue) and long-term (brand awareness) goals. Identifying your objectives will ensure that your event stays on point. Here are some common objectives for experiential marketing events:
- Introduce a new product line
- Increase sales on specific products
- Raise brand sentiment
- Respond to a current event
- Increase brand awareness for the company or product line
- Create user-generated content
- Increase web traffic
After setting your campaign goals, you’ll be able to establish a budget and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Step 2: Plan Your Event
What kind of experiential event will you create? Ideally, you should try to engage as many consumer senses as is necessary to meet your objectives.
The most common type of experiential event for e-Commerce brands is pop-up retail shops. You could create a temporary store as a product showroom and place brand ambassadors strategically throughout the event.
Or you could lease space at specific locations relevant to the lifestyle of your audience.
Consider adding ways for your customers to create user-generated content during the live event. You could establish event hashtags and social media giveaways. For those that are not able to attend the event, you could live stream the campaign and engage at-home participants.
Step 3: Collaborate With Your Current Influencers
Even in the early stages of planning, it is appropriate to engage your current team of influencers. You should pick their brains for ideas on how to heighten the experience for consumers.
Allow your influencers to suggest ways that they could get involved and publicize the event. Make it known that you want your influencers to be key players during the campaign, and allow them to add creativity into your planning.
Because influencers make a living off of crafting meaningful experiences for members of your audience, they will not disappoint during brainstorming sessions.
You may want to select brand ambassadors from among your current team of influencers. Be sure to spell out each influencer’s role in individual influencer campaign briefs. Every influencer should know:
- Their role at the event
- The number and content of their posts before, during, and after the event
- The compensation structure
- The general spirit of the event and how they should reflect that spirit in their posts
- Their referral links and discount codes (if applicable)
Step 4: Recruit New Influencers for the Event
As you initiate your experiential campaign preparation, you may want to recruit more influencers.
A fresh team of influencers can help you scale your influencer program and further enhance the potency of your campaign.
Make sure to select your influencers carefully. Influencers should be industry-specific with proven engagement metrics. If you’re using an influencer software tool like GRIN, the platform will streamline the recruiting process for you and connect you to the best influencers for your experiential campaign.
After building a new roster of influencers, be sure to establish campaign briefs for each.
Step 5: Have a “Soft Opening” (Influencer Only)
Before you open your event up to the public, invite your influencers to attend a soft opening. Allow them to interact with products and participate in the activities you’ve planned for your customers.
Ideally, you should agree beforehand with all your influencers how they should use their social media posts to interact with their audience during the soft opening event. You can use your influencers to generate buzz and initiate user-generated content even before your customers arrive on the scene.
After your soft opening, debrief your influencers and allow them to offer feedback on the event. They may be able to provide a few tweaks to enhance your experiential marketing campaign for consumers.
Step 6: Launch the Experiential Marketing Event
At this point, you should be able to watch your plans unfold while you monitor results. Make sure that you have personnel assigned to track social media traffic (check-ins, hashtags, tags, etc.).
Check in casually with all your brand ambassadors to see if they need supplies or have questions.
Even though your influencers are actively posting, you and your team members can still take pictures and videos of their own. In fact, publishing content from your owned media channels is a must.
As customers win a contest, give them a shoutout on social media. You can also do the same for your influencers as they reach certain milestones.
Step 7: Repurpose Content
When establishing campaign agreements with your influencers, you should ensure that you have the rights to their posts. Doing so will allow you to repurpose content for ongoing social media and PPC marketing.
Not only is influencer user-generated content more authentic, but it also costs you less than if you hired a design team to build ads for you. Additionally, you can extend the life of your influencer and experiential marketing through repurposing content from the live event.
The Power of Experiential Marketing
If you’re interested in creating brand trust while also achieving higher ROI through your marketing efforts, you will find no better approach than integrating influencers with an experiential marketing event.
We’ve shown how the value of authenticity and connection enhances the buying experience. As you move forward with your experiential campaign, we discussed the following seven steps to achieving maximum results:
- Set Objectives
- Plan Your Event
- Collaborate With Your Current Influencers
- Recruit New Influencers for the Event
- Have a “Soft Opening” (Influencer Only)
- Launch the Experiential Marketing Event
- Repurpose Content
For best results, you can efficiently track and sort user-generated content through GRIN’s influencer relationships management software. It will save your team hours of labor and report conversion metrics with better accuracy.
As you examine the results from your campaign, you will gain fantastic insight into the minds of your customers. You can use this insight to create ongoing influencer campaigns that continue to drive more revenue and increase web traffic for maximum ROI.