As wholesale brands seek ways to expand audiences at trade shows and elsewhere, one tactic worth considering is experiential marketing.

Experiential marketing can be defined loosely as messaging you can touch, feel, or view in a physical space. If this sounds like an idea you’ve heard before, you’re right: experiential marketing has been around for years under a variety of different names, including:

  • Event Marketing
  • Guerrilla Marketing
  • Live Marketing
  • On-Ground Marketing
  • Participation Marketing

Whatever you decide to call it, the concept behind experiential marketing is to create a marketing initiative that invites your audience to participate and experience your products or services in a memorable way.

Why Experience Matters

If experiential marketing is nothing new, why is it now growing so quickly and garnering so much attention in marketing circles? One reason is the advent of social media. As brands expand their social media reach, the opportunity to expand their experiential marketing efforts beyond in-person interactions is much greater.

Experiential marketing also allows brands to earn media coverage and PR that they otherwise might not. After all, informing the press that your brand intends to attend a particular tradeshow is not, in and of itself, particularly newsworthy.

But if your brand is hosting an event in your booth or elsewhere that invites attendees to participate in a new or unusual way? It may be newsworthy enough to interest media outlets covering the event.

How To Create Memorable Experiences

Show, Don’t Tell.

One of the biggest benefits of trade shows has always been that they provide an opportunity to see and feel a brand’s products. The simplest type of experiential marketing is simply to allow your audience to try the product for themselves. This is basically a demo, but you’ll want to take things further.

If you’re demoing a food product, think of a creative – even crazy – way to get those products out to the show attendees. If you’re a fashion brand, rather than simply showing samples in the booth, host a small fashion show with models and a runway. The possibilities are endless.

Leverage Social and Earned Media.

As you’re planning your experiential campaign, consider how well your ideas will translate to shareable videos and images. This is one of the major benefits of experiential marketing – it is not only an effective way to reach your target audience at an event, but should also provide an opportunity to reach out to people who were not in attendance.

Use event and any brand hashtags on all social media postings to increase your follower base. You can also create a hashtag for your campaign so people can follow along.

Don’t Limit Yourself to the Booth.

Often, when we think about trade show marketing, people limit themselves to thinking “inside the box,” or in this case, the booth. Yet, because your brand will be competing with hundreds or even thousands of other vendors, it can be very difficult to stand out on the trade show floor.

There may also be rules to consider that govern what you can or cannot do within the event hall itself. So consider other options. Your event presence isn’t limited to the booth; you can also host outside events or parties in the area surrounding the event hall.

Don’t Forget Sales.

Ultimately, the goal of marketing is to feed leads to your company’s sales team. One way to make your experiential marketing campaigns more accountable is to combine the experience itself with lead generating activity.

Don’t forget to ask for those email addresses. Even better, you can create a landing page where people can continue their experience with your brand by signing up to see exclusive content and connect with your brand on social media.

Any of these tactics will provide a means of developing a relationship with potential customers that could ultimately lead to more sales.

Some Ideas to Consider

If you’re looking for specific ways to engage attendees at your next trade show, here are some experiential marketing tactics to consider.

1. Charging stations and photo booths

These are two ideas that you can easily leverage to get people to spend time and engage at your booth. It’s something that nearly any company can pull off, and they provide opportunities to engage with prospects.

2. Contests and games

Contests and games are a great way to combine experiential marketing with lead generation. This type of activity can be especially effective when you incorporate experiences with your product as part of the campaign.

3. Demos

Product demos are nothing new but for many brands, demos are a must. If you want to make it memorable, find a way to make your demo stand out from the ordinary.

4. Multimedia

If your product doesn’t demo well, multimedia presentations shown on a tablet or flat-screen TV in the booth are another way to engage. Think videos of the product in action, customer testimonials, music, and other exciting content.

Just remember to keep it relatively short (two to five minutes, not twenty!) also keep in mind that you can reuse this content and share it on your website or social media sites to expand your reach.

Experiential marketing is a great opportunity to showcase the creative and fun side of your brand, and the methods you can use to achieve it are really only limited to your imagination.

So as you’re planning your experiential marketing for your next trade show or event, think of ways to make engaging with your brand fun and stand out from the crowd.

Have you had success creating an experiential marketing campaign? We’d love to hear what worked and what didn’t. Let us know in the comments.