The struggle to cut through the noise and deliver an experience that captures attention is not easy. Traditional marketing methods often fall short in achieving this, leaving organizers grappling with how to make their events stand out in an oversaturated market. Experiential events, however, emerge as the remedy to this challenge.
Unlike static advertising or conventional promotional approaches, experiential events allow organizers to transcend the limitations of traditional methods. Attendees experience a product in a unique manner that compels them to come back to the brand or make a purchase. Common methods used by organizers include sensory simulations, storytelling, or interactive activities.
According to MarketSplast, 90% of marketers found experiential marketing as a compelling engagement tool. If you haven’t used this tactic yet, read on as we dive into what are experiential events, share some examples, and explain how they can impact your brand image.
What are Experiential Events?
Experiential events, also known as live marketing or simply experiences, are dynamic gatherings that immerse participants in an experience. They involve multi-sensory, memorable, and often transformative encounters. The goal is to encourage active participation and engagement, making attendees part of the experience.
Event creators are in a great position to use these for improved marketing. Imagine if you hosted a sustainability webinar, including interactive workshops, zero waste challenges, and farm-to-food experiences that will enhance the attendee experience. Not only that, you get to imprint the memory and attendees are more likely to recommend you. This way experiential events just improve the event experience.
Benefits of Experiential Events
Experiential events offer a wide array of advantages that make them a compelling choice for business. Brands that want to engage, connect, and create lasting memories for attendees exploit these to the fullest. Here are some of the key benefits of experiential events:
Deep Engagement and Interaction
Attendees actively participate, touch, feel, and experience in experiential events, rather than passively observing. This level of engagement fosters a genuine connection with the event’s content or message.
Enhanced Brand Awareness
By creating immersive experiences that embody their brand’s values, companies can leave a lasting impression on their audience. Participants are more likely to recall the brand after such an experience.
Positive Emotional Associations
These events evoke emotions that create a strong connection between the participants and the event’s content. When people associate positive emotions with a brand, it can lead to increased loyalty and a sense of belonging.
For example, Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign transformed buying a soda into an emotional experience. By replacing the iconic logo with popular names and phrases, the brand invited consumers to associate the product with a positive feeling.
Data Collection and Feedback
By employing a structured approach, organizers can gather both qualitative and quantitative information, paving the way for continuous improvement and strategic decision-making.
You can utilize event reporting tools to conduct quick surveys on attendee preferences, satisfaction levels, user participation, and feedback on specific event aspects. Also, you can implement mechanisms to collect standard contact information during the event registration process. This information can be effectively used to engage the prospect in various marketing campaigns.
Events that bring people together around a shared experience can foster a sense of community and belonging. This is particularly important for organizations looking to build a dedicated following or support base. This helps event organizers create an online community with all interested attendees. They can keep in touch with them and share updates about any upcoming events.
Types of Experiential Events (With Examples)
There are many shapes and sizes of experiential events. Here we will be discussing each type with examples to give you an idea of how it works:
1. Brand Activations
Brand activation involves events, campaigns, and strategies that engage the consumers in the product or service experience. It goes beyond traditional advertising and aims for a tangible, memorable, and interactive experience for the customers. They often feature immersive environments, such as pop-up events, and interactive exhibits. Attendees are encouraged to actively participate in activities such as testing new products or solving a brand-related puzzle.
Harbor Foods, celebrating their 100 years of hosting tradeshows went all out to allow the audience to experience their food distribution business. They developed a realistic environment in a virtual setting and hundreds of food businesses exhibited at the event.
Attendees could order the food directly at the booth, all in one place. With live Q&As, chat, and cash prizes, everyone at the event stayed engaged and connected.
What Worked: Since attendees were given a chance to experience all the food brands in one place, scroll through their products, and make purchases, the engagement was spectacular. The branding and immersive environment made this event memorable for the attendees.
Another example of brand activations was the OGC property trade show. This virtual real estate trade show was vibrant and displayed location flags on booths. They made it easier for the audiences to find property experts from areas of interest. Then, the attendees had live sessions with the experts and asked questions in the Q&A session. Throughout the event, the attendees got to experience the process and got real-estate insights.
What Worked: The networking features allowed the attendees to connect and experts in an immersive virtual setting. The flags made a great visual impact and made it easier to identify the location of experts. This experience made the event memorable and enhanced brand awareness with displayed branded banners.
2. Branded Community Events
These events focus on strengthening the relationship between a brand and its audience by fostering a sense of belonging. These events revolve around shared values, interests, or a common cause. The goal is to bring people together for memorable experiences.
The NULC Family Expo is a fine example of such an event. This back-to-school event invited the community and family over to learn about academic opportunities, fitness, and mental health. The college success workshops and free backpacks for pre-K-12 kids turned it into an immersive and memorable experience. All the people from the community got together, connected, and learned about each other.
What Worked: The community-centric focus of this event made it a hit. The students and their families participated in activities together in a physical environment. Valuable insights and immersive learning opportunities transformed the space into a knowledge hub. Also, practical giveaways are always a great idea, and addressing the tangible needs by providing school supplies added to the popularity of the event.
3. Product Launch
A product launch event sets the stage for the introduction of new products or services to the world. These events are carefully orchestrated to generate excitement, showcase innovation, and engage with the audience memorably. They aim to engage attendees with an innovative showcase, hands-on interaction, and storytelling.
They create an emotional bond between the audience and the product, as attendees can see, touch, and experience the innovation firsthand. The impact often extends beyond the event itself, leading to increased sales, media coverage, and word-of-mouth promotion.
Tesla’s product launch for the Model 3 was a highly anticipated event. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, unveiled the electric car and invited attendees to test drive it, creating a buzz that led to over 200,000 pre-orders within the first 24 hours.
What Worked: The hands-on interaction at this product launch allowed potential customers to see and feel the innovation. It resulted in an electrifying buzz that translated into over 200,000 pre-orders within the first 24 hours. What worked brilliantly in this event was the fusion of anticipation, personal engagement, and the tangible experience of the product.
These events often bring together individuals from diverse disciplines and industries, encouraging fresh perspectives. Collaborative events serve as platforms for sharing expertise, best practices, and research findings. Attendees learn from one another through workshops, discussions, and presentations. The focus is on addressing real-world challenges and finding innovative solutions. Participants engage in brainstorming sessions, design thinking, and group projects.
The CCSSO recognizes the importance of fostering collaboration, learning, and innovation within this dynamic field. Their Winter Collaborative Meeting is an example of how experiential collaborative events can bring together like-minded professionals for an engaging and enlightening experience.
The immersive virtual environment including a virtual lobby, information desk, and an auditorium made attendees experience the actual atmosphere from their computer screens. Virtual networking opportunities such as virtual happy hours and networking lounges made it a hub of connectivity.
What Worked: The meticulous design of an immersive virtual environment created a space that mimicked an in-person meeting. The inclusion of virtual networking opportunities, such as happy hours and lounges, not only facilitated professional connections but also transformed the event into a hub of connectivity.
5. Interactive Workshops
Interactive workshops are distinguished by their emphasis on active engagement, skill-building, and experiential learning. They provide participants with a structured environment to explore, practice, and master new concepts or techniques. Workshops feature practical, hands-on activities that allow attendees to develop skills. Participants often work in groups to solve problems and share their experiences.
The Bewitching Bash by Ritzy Parties was one of the first metaverse Halloween parties. It had interactive workshops to bring together Halloween lovers and teach them how to make spooky crafts and foods for the holiday. There were 99 hours of Halloween-themed creative classes and was an experience to remember for all the attendees.
What Worked: The inclusion of interactive workshops became a key element for actively engaging Halloween enthusiasts. The event became a captivating journey for all participants, leaving them with a trove of memories. This event created an experience that transcends the conventional and embraces the avant-garde within the metaverse.
6. Influencer Events
Brands can invite influencers from niches related to their own and talk about their offerings. They communicate their new products and messaging to their target audience by using influencers as a medium. Influencer events are popular because of their wide capacity to target more people than you normally can.
An Instagram influencer, Alquincia Selolwane, founded the Black Virtual Mall. This was a virtual mall leasing exhibitor booths to black-owned businesses that opened new possibilities for vendors to sell their products online. This event was such a huge success because of Selolwane’s influence and how she used it to promote the event.
What Worked: By creating a virtual space exclusively for black-owned businesses, the event became a powerful marketing tool, showcasing the diversity and innovation within the community. The experience provided vendors with new possibilities to sell products online and contributed to a broader movement of supporting black-owned businesses. Selolwane’s influence, combined with the experiential nature of the virtual mall, elevated brand visibility and made a positive difference.
Start Making Impact Now
As we embrace a future where the metaverse, virtual reality, and immersive technology continue to evolve, experiential events become even more relevant. They signify a profound shift in the way we interact, learn, celebrate, and influence.
The benefits of these events are far-reaching, from enhancing brand loyalty and community building to fostering personal growth and skill acquisition. Embrace the power of experiential events, for they represent a dynamic fusion of innovation, authenticity, and the enduring magic of human connection.