Experiential marketing at events: creating the spectacular for attendees

eventbase-experiential-marketing-blog.jpg

We’re living in the experience economy. Consumer preferences are shifting from material things to experiences. In the B2B world, where events can sometimes be standardized affairs, savvy marketers know that experiences are the best way to cut through the noise and inspire word-of-mouth promotion.

What do we mean by experiential marketing at events? After all, events are, by nature, experiences. But with experiential marketing, brands offer something unique, unexpected and delightful to the participant – something that helps them forge an emotional connection to the brand. We’ve got some examples below.

From guerilla marketing tactics to flash mobs to ever-more-creative interactive installations at conferences, experiential marketing is an event marketing trend that Eventbase named as one of the hottest for 2019 – and it’s here to stay.

Why experiential marketing?

Experiential marketing is worth investing in for virtually any company or brand.

Why? First of all, experiences are simply an effective way to get your message across. Educator Edgar Dale’s famous “Cone of Experience” states that we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, and 90% of what we do or personally experience.

We also see the buying experience becoming more important than ever before in how people make purchase decisions – especially in the B2B world. The fastest-growing B2B companies (Slack is one great example) understand this and make sure to provide consumer-quality user experiences. In his research The Birth of the B2B Consumer, Forrester analyst Steven Casey notes how it has become imperative that B2B brands make sure their brand resonates emotionally and creates the right first impression.

A study by the Event Marketing Institute found that a whopping 98% of consumers feel more inclined to purchase after attending an experiential brand activation.

There’s yet another not-to-be missed reason you should add experiential marketing to your event strategy: the power of social. Millennials in particular are constantly seeking out Instagrammable moments to capture and share. Facebook (Instagram’s owner) understands this better than anyone else – at their IQ Live event series, for example, they hired a latte artist who drew guests’ faces in foam.

More intriguing examples of experiential marketing at events

Here’s a roundup of some of the most interesting recent examples of experiential marketing at events that we’ve come across.

At CES (Consumer Electronics Show), electronics maker LG created a “digital canyon” by piecing together hundreds of state-of-the-art curved OLED TV displays. Attendees could walk through a passageway and admire the stunning natural vistas shown entirely on LG screens.

For South By Southwest, HBO created an entire temporary theme park to replicate the set of the popular TV show Westworld. Special shuttles whisked curious guests to a secret location where the buildings, costumed actors, props and even landscaping recreated an American frontier town just like the fictional town of Sweetwater from the show.

Organizers of software company Docker’s annual conference, DockerCon, hired the Jack Morton agency to create an amazingly innovative video game experience where a keynote session’s audience bounced a plastic whale around the room to control the game’s characters on the main screen. Billed as the first 5000-person live multiplayer video game, this experience was massively popular and provided a unique talk trigger for the conference.

At brewer Anheuser-Busch’s 5000-person 2018 sales conference, attendees were treated to a welcome parade in the center of New Orleans, as well as an “immersion zone”, featuring distinct experiences for each of the beermaker’s brands. Bud Light World, for example, was a replica castle featuring characters from the brand’s recent medieval-themed marketing campaign, complete with thrones for photo ops.

Summing up

There’s no doubt that setting up thoughtful and relevant experiential marketing installations takes extra effort, over and above all the energy that’s already going into putting your event together. But if your goal is to create word-of-mouth promotion, lasting memories and a positive association between your brand and your attendees, it’s a tactic well worth investing in.

Curious about the other top 2019 trends we’ve identified in enterprise event marketing? Check out our report on what will shape the events industry over the next 12 months: 2019 Trends in Enterprise Event Marketing.