The Power Of Experiential Marketing In Brand Activation

min read
October 26, 2023
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Executive summary

  • Experiential marketing is a hands-on approach to marketing that brings your audience together, builds new relationships, and strengthens brand loyalty.
  • Brand activation can include in-person events, an online social media campaign, or other initiatives that engage people with your brand.
  • You can maximize the effectiveness of experiential marketing activations by choosing a creative idea, having a goal-driven plan, and gathering feedback after the fact.
  • Focusing on details like choosing the right venue, seeking out potential partnerships, and adapting to changing consumer interests can make your brand activation even more effective.

There is little more powerful than experiences—experiences invoke emotion, create excitement, and take their place in your long-term memory. When a brand creates an experience, it can make a lasting impression on consumers, capture new customers, and drive increased revenue.

A brand activation is the process of making your brand known to others through an event, campaign, or experience. Experiential marketing through brand activation is a highly effective marketing technique that empowers brands to make waves amongst their audiences and embed themselves into the hearts of potential consumers.

Knowing how to leverage the power of experiential marketing can bring you exciting results in the form of brand-new customers and boosted sales, and PETERMAYER can support you in the process.


What is experiential marketing?

Experiential marketing is a form of hands-on marketing that engages your audience and potential consumers through hands-on experiences, like events. You may also hear experiential marketing described as engagement marketing, ground marketing, grassroots marketing, or just XM.

Experiential marketing is done through brand activation, which is a type of campaign, event, or interaction that your target audience can participate in. Brand activation drives brand awareness and relationship-building by engaging potential consumers through hands-on experiences. As a result, you are able to create lasting relationships with your consumers and plant your brand in their memory.


How to craft a memorable experiential brand activation

Brand activation is an excellent approach for creating meaningful experiences that build brand loyalty, but it’s crucial that you make this activation worthwhile. To build a memorable experiential brand activation, you’ll need to do the right research and follow a few best practices.


1. Identify and understand your target audience

Identifying and understanding your target audience is absolutely essential for creating a successful brand activation. Knowing your target audience allows you to create an event that they will want to come to, will enjoy, and will remember.

If you mischaracterize your target audience, then your event won’t make an impact the way you expect. This is why every event starts with market research that identifies the target demographic along with psychographics like their interests, preferences, and pain points.

You can gain insights into your audience’s preferences and interests by using strategies like data analytics and social listening. By understanding what ideas and activities resonate with your audience, you can create a more meaningful and memorable experience.


2. Set clear goals and objectives

Knowing what outcomes you want to get out of your brand activation will better equip you to take the steps to meet them. When you have a set benchmark, you have a more focused path and know what you need to do to reach it.

Before your campaign, you should define measurable KPIs you wish to meet. Depending on your event, good examples of KPIs include:

  • Attendance rates
  • Media mentions on TV, online, or through other media
  • Social media mentions or shares
  • Social media engagement rates
  • Survey responses
  • Website traffic

While setting goals, be sure to think about how they align with your core values and messaging. Your goals for a campaign should act as stepping stones for your greater goals as a brand.


3. Brainstorm creative experiences

The reality is that there are hundreds of ways you can create a brand activation—the key is to choose the approach that will bring you the most return for your investment. Follow a brainstorming process that allows you to maximize the creative potential of your team.

At PETERMAYER, we use our proprietary Junto process to brainstorm creative ideas across the team. This process has helped us develop innovative ideas for countless brands and has been the reason for many bold and successful campaigns. This collective brainstorming helps us choose the most promising ideas and create events that are grounded in authenticity.


Captivate your audience

Brand activation can boost brand loyalty by reeling in new and current audiences—PETERMAYER has the experience and resources to help you make it happen.


Real-world examples of experiential marketing

Multiple brands have made waves through powerful experiential marketing campaigns, and there’s a strong chance that you recognize the effects of impactful marketing campaigns, even if you did not experience them directly. Some of the most successful brand activations can serve as great sources of inspiration.


Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign

“Just Do It” is now a household phrase that virtually everyone can automatically associate with Nike, and their experiential marketing tactics are a good reason for this. In Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, they created a pop-up store with treadmills and interactive screens.

This campaign activated audiences by allowing consumers to try new Nike running shoes in simulated environments and experience the advantages of the shoes for themselves. The screens helped replicate different terrains, which made consumers feel like they were running outside in various environments. 

Nike also connects with athletes on a regular basis, highlighting the drive, determination, and emotion behind their accomplishments. The sharing of experiences from real athletes encouraged other athletes to share theirs on social media, creating more buzz around Nike and making the brand more memorable.  


Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign

It’s impossible not to know Coca-Cola, and this is in large part because of the power of its campaigns. One of the best examples of experiential marketing was the brand’s “Share a Coke” campaign. This campaign placed different names on the label, which encouraged people to buy cans of Coke with their name on it.

People bought a can of Coca-Cola not just for the refreshing taste of the classic soda but also largely for the experience. Many consumers were excited to search for their or their friends’ names. This excitement had people sharing the sodas with their friends and posting photos on social media. As a result of the campaign, the hype surrounding Coca-Cola was as high as ever.


Red Bull’s extreme sports events

Red Bull’s extreme sports events are the pinnacle of experiential marketing. The brand has become almost synonymous with extreme, as its intense events are filled with crowds and end up planted on TV screens.

Red Bull has dipped its hand into several extreme sports, hosting events like Red Bull Stratos and the Red Bull Air Race, as well as events catered to windsurfing, cliff-diving, rock climbing, and more. The events attract like-minded individuals with a passion for extreme sports, creating a sense of belonging and establishing a community amongst enthusiasts. 

These events are great for newbies, too—all it takes is grabbing one can of Red Bull at an event to discover how much you like the energy drink and cause you to want another can later down the road.


Implementing your experiential brand activation

After you have sufficiently road-mapped what you want out of the event and how to accomplish it, you can start planning how to put it into action. There are a few essential steps to take so that you can implement your brand activation and maximize its success.


1. Secure the right venue and time

All of the details matter, and building a successful event requires careful thought into the logistics. Start by choosing a venue that will complement the experience and increase the likelihood that your target audience will attend.

When thinking about the venue, you should consider factors like:

  • Proximity and accessibility to your target audience
  • The capacity of the venue for holding participants
  • Whether you want to have a stand-alone event or a pop-up event with other brands
  • How weather may play a factor
  • If the amount of space is conducive to your event plans

Timing is essential too. Think about when would make the most sense based on your target audience—would they be more interested in an event during the day or the evening? What time of year would be best? Will your event conflict with other events or activities that may be popular amongst your target demographic?

Making the proper decisions regarding venue and time will also be informed by your research, allowing you to determine the best options so that your target audience shows up.


2. Build partnerships and collaborations

Partnerships and collaborations can help fill in gaps for your event or campaign and enhance the experience for your audience even further. For example, Red Bull has collaborated with GoPro for some of their extreme events. 

While Red Bull hosts the events, GoPro helps capture and provide footage throughout. Both brands benefit from the partnership, while the collaboration only enhances the overall experience.

Building partnerships will also offer a ton of potential for the future, too, as collaborating with other brands opens the door for future opportunities, partnered events, and an expanded audience.


3. Promote and amplify the experience

Setting up your event is one thing, but building interest and attracting audiences is another component. By leveraging your resources properly, you can generate hype and get others interested in attending. 

Use social media and digital marketing to maximize the impact of your brand activation both before and after. Promoting your event with enticing flyers, graphics, and videos on social media will get your audience interested and increase the likelihood that people will attend.

A strong recap video will package the experience in a positive light to show others what they missed and will pique their interest and curiosity in your brand for the future. 

In addition to social media, you can also leverage the power of PR and media. Press coverage can extend the reach of your activation and create additional brand exposure, both before and after. To get appropriate media attention, reach out to local and industry-specific media outlets to cover the experiential event.

At PETERMAYER, we maintain strong connections with media outlets so brands can access coverage when necessary.


Tap into the power of experiential marketing

Experiential marketing solidifies your brand in the memory of your target audience—make your brand activation count.


Measuring success and ROI of experiential marketing

Measuring the success of your experiential marketing helps you understand how successful it was, how far you were able to reach, and whether the investment into the experience was worth it. Tracking the performance of your experiential marketing also helps to highlight areas of success and areas of improvement to guide your implementation of future events.


1. Select relevant metrics for measurement

Choosing relevant metrics for measurements gives you a detailed picture of your event’s performance. Metrics are key in telling you the impact of your event. Some of the most relevant and helpful metrics are:

  • Attendance and participation rates – Measuring attendance or the number of participants is essential. Compare these numbers with your initial projections to assess the campaign’s success in attracting your audience.
  • Social media engagement and impressions – Track information like likes, shares, comments, and mentions on social media platforms. Also, analyze the reach and impressions from user-generated content about the activation to see the extent of your event reach.

Of course, the proper metric depends on your event, so think back to your initial goals when determining success metrics.


2. Collect data and feedback

Make sure to gather an abundance of feedback from your audience, too, as they are the greatest measurement in determining how successful your event was. Good feedback will also help inform and improve your strategy for future events. 

To collect this information, send out a survey to participants afterward. Ask questions about the event’s organization, the impact of the experience, and how attendees perceive your brand. These questions can include a mix of qualitative and quantitative data. From there, identify patterns in the feedback to inform future experiential marketing efforts.


3. Evaluate the impact on brand loyalty and perception

Experiential marketing is only as powerful as its results. Effective brand activation and experiential marketing campaigns will result in a more positive perception of your brand and increased loyalty. Loyal customers will advocate for your brand and spread the word about your services. 

Measure the effectiveness of your marketing by assessing the impact that it has on brand loyalty and perception. You can evaluate this impact with customer surveys or by monitoring conversations online and on social media. Positive posts and discussions about your event will say a lot about its impact on your reputation.


Overcoming challenges and pitfalls

Even with an incredible plan for your experiential marketing campaign, you have to stay on your toes in order to overcome potential challenges or pitfalls and maximize the outcomes of your event.


Budget constraints and cost-effective strategies

A brand activation event can result in an exciting return that makes the spending worth it, but you should still walk out of your event without being in a hole. Fortunately, your event doesn’t have to be beyond expensive to be successful.

To navigate budget constraints, think of ideas that can draw crowds at a lower cost. The power of creativity makes all the difference. Putting more work into the brainstorming process can bring you an innovative idea that creates memorable experiences without excessive spending. 


Ensure safety and security at experiential events

Although it can be easy to overlook when you are focused on the marketing results, it’s essential to consider all of the little details to ensure everything goes smoothly. Therefore, participant safety should be top of mind when planning to build brand trust

Have important safety plans in place, obtain any necessary permits, and be sure to adhere to local regulations and safety guidelines. If necessary, plan to have event security on site to monitor the event and mitigate any safety concerns.


Adapt to changing consumer behavior and preferences

Consumer behaviors and preferences change constantly. As a brand, you must be able to adapt in response and create experiential marketing campaigns that resonate. Keeping up with trends and changing behavior through market research and social listening will allow you to create events that cater to your audience’s interests and generate a strong turnout.


Harness the power of experiential marketing with PETERMAYER

Experiential marketing offers vast potential, from empowering your brand to maximize its reach to building long-term brand loyalty. If your brand has yet to create a strategy, it’s not too late to leverage the power of brand activation, and PETERMAYER can help.

We offer personalized guidance in creating a meaningful experiential marketing activation based on your brand goals. We’ve had great success supporting brands in impactful, innovative activations, and we can help you plan your next event, too. From our proprietary brainstorming process to our experience elevating experiential marketing events, we have the tools to help you.

Contact us today to schedule a discovery call and see how you can create meaningful experiences for your audience.

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