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An In Depth Look at the Pros and Cons of Experiential Marketing

Have you ever gone grocery shopping and tasted samples of particular foods in the store? Were there branded golf carts or people doing product demos at the last convention you went to?

These are just a few examples of experiential marketing. Such a form of communicating with customers is all about creating real-life interactions. This doesn't happen from behind a screen or through print advertising; it provides experiences that stimulate the senses and creates memorable brand moments for an audience.

However, as beneficial as this kind of marketing can be, there are some downsides to it. Keep reading to get a closer look at the pros and cons of experiential marketing.

The Benefits of Experiential Marketing

It's pretty clear to see the benefits of experiential marketing when you're on the consumer side of things. This is a fun, often unexpected interaction. It's something different from all the pop-up ads, and email sales offer you see every day.

But, as someone who's about to invest in this tool for a business, it pays to do a little more research about the advantages of experiential marketing. Here are the top three to consider.

1. It Creates Direct Introductions

Digital initiatives allow you to target ads or research consumer habits. But, they don't guarantee an introduction. Someone can scroll right by the ad you've worked so hard to create without giving it a second thought.

When you bring your brand to life and put it right in front of them on the street, though, who you are and what you do is much harder to ignore. On the contrary, users won't even try to sideswipe you - they'll be curious about what's going on!

Experiential marketing draws people in with methods that feel natural and exciting. There's nothing forced or intrusive about making this sale, which is refreshing for consumers who are tech-savvy and know a thing or two about how ads work.

2. It Makes You Memorable

Even when someone does take note of your social media ad or feels connected to your online brand ambassadors, your product is much easier to forget online. But when someone gets a real feel for what you offer, the result is very different.

This goes for whether someone needs to taste, hold, feel, or even try on your product. It doesn't matter if you just came out with new VR technology, you're releasing a music demo, or you're starting a baked goods company, go to where your market is and put your product in the hands of consumers.

Give your audience a sample of what you can offer them, and they'll be more likely to remember you and come back for more.

3. It Starts an Ongoing Conversation

The final benefit of experiential marketing is actually something traditional marketing has many of its roots in; word of mouth. The right experience is sure to get people talking.

You could be the next big thing at an industry convention or go viral online thanks to what you're doing in real life. But, it all comes back to the moment you're trying to create with the people right in front of you.

When you get this right, amazing things can happen. Creating a memorable experience now can have people talking for days or even weeks about your business.

The Limitations of Experiential Marketing

While there are some noteworthy reasons to invest in experiential marketing, you have to be aware of the risks associated with it. Below are a few things that can happen to make this type of marketing go wrong.

1. It's Not Always Spot-On

When experiential marketing goes right, it's great. It's fun and exciting and perfect. When it misses the mark, though, it's not even close.

Sometimes, the event you plan doesn't fit the setting. Or, it may not be noticeable enough to get as many people's attention as you'd hoped. Such is the case if you try to sell food at a tech convention or set up an on-ground marketing tent at a music festival.

You have to truly think about who you're targeting and what their mind is on when you choose an event to participate in. Otherwise, you may end up wasting your time and your money.

Make sure you give the research and planning process its due diligence. Like any other marketing campaign, you have to do everything with your target audience in mind if you want to succeed. Work with a company who is willing to do the research for experiential marketing, not just come up with something fun.

2. It Can't Be Repeated

Another thing to think about is being the most original you possibly can. Dance mobs are a thing of the past, and it's not enough to hand out flyers anymore. The best way to make people pay attention is by giving them something they've never seen before.

As such, you can use other experiential marketing campaigns as inspiration, but don't expect what worked for someone else to work for you. Your campaign has to be something entirely on its own to work.

The research component mentioned above should inspire you to start thinking of ideas. Once you get into a user's head and understand their buying habits and personal interests, it's easier to create a moment they won't soon forget.

3. It's Hard To Measure ROI

Just when you've executed on a fantastic experiential marketing event, your boss asks you how many new customers it generated.


While you can show an increase in site visits to the website, it's hard to attribute conversions specifically to your event. Identifying KPI's beforehand that the entire team agrees on as well as trying to tie offline actions to online actions in the planning stage will allow you to get a better idea of how successful your event was.

To leverage some of the data, you can ask users to give you their email info before they walk away, use social media hashtags specifically created for you event and monitor those prior, during and after the event.

Choosing the Right Marketing Approach for You

Like with any great marketing campaign, there are a few risks associated with experiential marketing if you want to get it right. Even digital ads and print tactics don't always turn out the way you want them to.

But, what sets experiential marketing apart is how effective it can be when it does work! This is something users are sure to remember long after their interaction with you has ended.

Plus, the buzz around your experiential campaign is superb material for you to leverage with your other marketing! It all goes hand in hand when you think about it.