Experiential Marketing – Get out of the way and let consumers play.

Follow me

Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
Follow me


It had to happen.  The backlash which is guilting people to put down their smartphones, and other electronic devices, and get out into life and smell the roses.  People are heeding the call realising their dependency on social platforms for validation and interaction.

There is always a tipping point and in the case of human interaction the pendulum has swung back towards getting more of a balance between online and offline. The key now for marketers and brands is how to create a valued connection within this lifestyle correction.  It has to also be one that has longevity and depth of trust. Enter experiential marketing.

Experiential marketing is not a new concept

Far from it.  But thanks to the rise of digital it now plays an important role in bringing together the online with the ‘in real life’, and the benefits are great for everyone involved.

Experiential marketing plays on the key attributes which have made social media success – the ability to share and network. But for it to work, the experience must have minimal boundaries, allowing the participant to move into the experience as little or as much as they want.  It is the personal connection to the activity which then stimulates the sharing notion and the participation with others which promotes the networking. It works well in a lot of lifestyle based genres such as travel,  tourism and FMCG’s, but the application is far reaching.

Connection, emotion and responses

It works because it takes people to an emotional level, where they make decisions about their participation based on their response.  Sometimes it is instant. Sometimes it takes more time and involvement from others, particularly with this example of the Banksey Sale in NY. It was not until it became a news story that people started to share, talk and recall.

Then there is the wonder of things that fascinate us but we can’t normally get close to

Where collaboration meets party meets serious fun

Who is not going to talk about their involvement in something like these?

As Seth Godin explains in his book, The Icarus Deception, one of the key things is how the network operates and what causes it to respond.

“What you feed the network changes what you get back. The network connects people to one another, people to organisations, and best of all, people to ideas.”

For years, marketers have spent gazillions making sure they understand their audience. There are many examples of how they have still managed to get it wrong, feeding the network the wrong diet of information. Experiential marketing allows the network to feed the network with content determined by the audience. The participants make the content and drive the conversations that strike a cord with people just like themselves. how simple is that concept?

How do participants then feed their network? What does that look like?

Photos posted on Instagram with corresponding hashtags linked to the event

  • A review
  • Tweeting at a conference
  • Vox pops posted on YouTube from a music festival
  • A petition
  • Telling a story over a dinner with friends
  • The challenge lay in not just making a great experience but other factors which require marketers to change their mindset.

Marketers need to get out of the way and stop being overbearing in their approach to their audiences.

The marketing world suffers most from its inability to let go of control. They try to control messages, outcomes, even online reviews for heaven’s sake, but the gold lay more in their ability to open up the forum to others and provide them with the tools to make it great. To do this they need to get out of the way.

No more content for content’s sake

Another Achilles heel to marketing success is the approach to creating content, Marketers  tend to make content for content’s sake. Where are the strategically designed information which have determined goals set against its performance in the market place; stuff that is truly interesting and three dimensional, unique and creatively innovative? If content is king, why is most of the stuff out there so droll?

Seek the quintessential factor

That X factor quality often only comes from an instinct, place in time or nuance. This X factor ingredient is usually only discovered by people in your audience scope; the consumer.  This is because they provide the insight to what can make your brand click with them. The trick is to provide these peeps with a platform to explore their interaction and response to your brand and also assist them to share it with their networks, promoting your stuff as it happens.  No, far from easy but that’s where experiential marketing can play a part.

Experiential marketing is making a big comeback. Brands that continue to stay two dimensional, on shelves, behind an ivory tower or stuck in old economy ‘push’ advertising, with a tweet here or there, just aren’t seeing or listening to the world around them. They aren’t living it.

People are headed back to real life. Brands need to meet them there, close up, personal and creative.

The out-takes for brands?

  • Brands need to spend more time focusing on bringing a value proposition to consumers by engaging them in real-life
  • Innovation and creativity are the key to successful experiential marketing campaigns – minimise the boundary to ensure the most open response from your audience
  • Learn from your online audience – spend time listening, asking questions and reading between the lines.
  • Remove the expectations and use a strategy to do a ‘look and see’ so the brand can learn from the experience. Innovate from this information
  • Let go of control
  • Make it fun
More articles from Inbound Experts

How to use Twitter (properly)

Twitter can be an amazing platform for connecting with an audience. However, many struggle to get the hang of it. If you are just getting started or feel as if you are not making the most of Twitter, download this free guide for going from zero to hero.