woman using vr headset

Bring your brand to life.

Experiential marketing is on the rise, and marketers in every industry are increasingly focused on making their brands a tangible presence in consumers’ lives. Loosely defined as messaging you can touch, feel, or view in a physical space, experiential marketing is an expansive tool that encompasses a variety of unique, face-to-face or screen-to-screen brand activations and events.

The room for creativity within the branded experiential space is exciting in its enormity — marketers have the opportunity to employ emerging technologies and traditional event marketing strategies to create one-of-a-kind offerings for consumers and sponsors alike.

Let’s take a look at how you can set your brand experience apart from the rest:

1. Instagram Writ Large

In today’s digital landscape, the social lifespan of an event or campaign is as important as the activation itself. Studies show that 49% of attendees create mobile video during an event, and 39% of that video is shared on Twitter. It’s essential to build a social call to action into every experiential marketing campaign, as social posts from the right group of participating influencers grow the footprint of your brand experience in ways that your in-house efforts cannot. Deliver social moments to your consumer on a silver platter, and make sure the accompanying handles and hashtags are memorable and easily incorporated.

In 2015 (and again this year), Refinery29 catered to its digitally savvy, fashion and Instagram-loving audience with 29Rooms, an immersive walk through installation comprised of — you guessed it — 29 interactive, gorgeously decorated rooms. The 2015 installation, launched in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, included lip-print-covered walls, a silent rave, clouds floating indoors, and even a purse-shaped bouncy castle. The experience was every Instagrammer’s dream, and brand partners used sponsored rooms to push the envelope on current issues like the presidential election and body positivity. The experience also included a virtual vacation room, in which guests were given VR headsets that transported them to Tulum, New Orleans, or Berlin. The inaugural Greenpoint iteration of the event was an undertaking of massive scale and creativity, designed at every turn with social media in mind.

Real eyes realize real #smize 👀 cc: @tyrabanks #29rooms

A photo posted by Refinery29 (@refinery29) on

2. Incorporate Emerging Technologies

Although marketers have been buzzing about VR for years, it’s likely that the majority of your consumers are not proud owners of Samsung’s Oculus Rift headset. Offer you audience the opportunity to experiment with technology they may not yet have access to — in a way that makes sense for your brand. Nonprofit organizations like Charity: Water have leveraged VR at otherwise traditional fundraising events, transporting gala attendees and potential donors across the world to witness the impact of their charitable gifts through the eyes of the people they help.

3. Go Guerilla

Some of the most successful experiential brand moments make use of densely populated urban spaces. It seems like you can’t walk down a New York City street without encountering a unique, branded and participatory activation — be it an art installation, a food truck, or a spin class taking place in Times Square.

Lean Cuisine recently pivoted away from its traditionally diet-centric brand messaging with a body positive activation in New York City’s Grand Central Station. The company’s #WeighThis campaign invited women walking through the transportation hub to stop and consider the criterion by which they would prefer to be judged. Participants wrote down their selection (academic accomplishments, professional goals, experience as a parent) on chalkboards made to look like scales. The powerful result was an enormous wall hung with hundreds of scales, each with a different, meaningful phrase written on it.

4. Pics or it Didn’t Happen

Did you get a little misty watching the video above? In the same way that social posts from participants expand your campaign’s reach, it’s essential to create your own visual materials. A professionally produced video’s lifespan and potential to go viral furnishes your brand with many opportunities: it entices consumers to look out for and participate in your brand’s next activation, and become sales collateral as you consider inviting sponsors to take part in future events or campaigns. Finally, you can service out these materials to media outlets looking to cover your undoubtedly successful activation.

5. Find An Audience

If you’re looking for guaranteed crowds of like-minded or industry audience members, consider aligning your activation with an existing conference or festival. Austin’s SXSW Festival has become a hub for innovative, immersive marketing that gives consumers unique brand interactions during a week that they’ve already set aside from their everyday lives to participate in these exact experiences.

Whatever form it may take for your brand, experiential marketing offers companies unprecedented opportunities to be creative, employ influencers, and tangibly participate in your consumers’ lives. “Brands are becoming aware that events don’t have to attract tens of thousands of people to be successful,” says Adweek. The megaphone effect of social media allows marketers to re-think questions of scale and budget and focus instead on outstanding execution in controlled environments. Spend time thinking about the unexpected ways people could interact with your brand, and remember: the sky’s the limit.