Marketing has moved far beyond one-way advertisement in which brand representatives pitch products to a passive audience. Engagement, transparency, and trust are becoming mainstays. A consumer’s input is no long desired. It is essential. The newest marketing is more like a conversation in which buyers feel like valued contributors to the evolution of a brand. This is called “experiential marketing.” For a business, it provides real-time input from the consumer. For the consumer, it builds trust and emotional investment in a brand. These advantages have many asking, “What Is Experiential Marketing?”
In the past, print, radio, and television ads were presented to an unheard group of consumers. As the internet and social media have grown into nearly universal phenomena, businesses have begun to use these platforms to reach more people than ever before. In this age of instant communication, customers are more discerning. They want more transparency from businesses and more of a say in how products are improved. Experiential marketing (also called “engagement marketing”) accomplishes all this through social media, live events, webcasts, and interactive art installations. Consumers are encouraged to contribute to a brand’s development, not just review later.
Take a new brand of shirts as an example. A public event is held in which these shirts are given out. The shirts are pre-printed with the name of the brand. Silk screening and fabric painting stations are placed so consumers can design the brand’s new logo. The company holds a contest for the best logo, in which consumers vote. This event is heavily covered online through a live web broadcast, Twitter updates, and additional input through social media. By the end of the event, people are invested in the future of the product. They have a say in how it is perceived by the larger public. This leap into the public consciousness is called brand activation.
Once the new logo becomes disseminated to the public, the producers of the shirt can now tell the story of how it was developed. This builds trust among consumers. They feel their voices will be heard as the product continues to develop. It also makes them feel personally invested in the product, making them “brand ambassadors” as they encourage others to try it. As a follow-up to the original event, people may be encouraged to wear their self-designed shirts at an event, party, or as part of a performance. This is a non-intrusive form of event planning that further builds the audience for the product.
The goal of new marketing is to create lasting, mutually-beneficial relationships between brand makers and consumers. It speeds up and enriches the traditional process of brand unveiling, consumer review, and product redevelopment. It helps brand makers understand in real time what their customers want from a product. The entire process is much quicker, more efficient, and more affordable than traditional development. It builds lasting dedication on the part of consumers, while positioning them to advertise the product through their own enthusiasm.