For many businesses, event marketing is limited to traditional, tried-and-true events. The live marketing strategy of most brands doesn’t extend beyond trade shows and conferences. At such live events, brands from a particular industry converge to network and showcase their products to a wide audience with the goal of generating leads.

Experiential marketing campaigns are different. Also known as engagement marketing, experiential live events focus on creating memorable brand experiences for attendees.

What is experiential marketing?

By immersing visitors in the product through interaction, storytelling, and multi-sensory design, these events garner lasting, emotional connections between a brand and its consumers. Engagement marketing tactics give your target audience a tangible, real-life interaction with your products and how they can work for them in the day-to-day.

While traditional event marketing and trade shows center on pitching and selling, experiential marketing is all about using immersion to spur brand activation and incite brand loyalty.

In effect, experiential marketing is the maxim “show, don’t tell” come to life.

Versatile experiential marketing examples to inspire your next event

Creating a compelling, immersive experience around your brand and products is easier said than done. Not only do interactive experiences require physical space, well-designed displays, and staff to man the booth or pop-up, they require above all an intriguing concept that fits with your brand and speaks to your target audience.

While global mega-brands like Google, Coca-Cola, Ikea, Red Bull, Adidas, Netflix, and Nike may have plentiful resources to devote to crafting memorable marketing experiences for customers, smaller brands may not know where to begin.

Developing and executing a stellar experiential marketing campaign requires thinking outside the box and coming up with creative ways to engage consumers with your products in real-time. While budget is certainly important in any marketing campaign, a clever and on-brand concept can take you further than you think.

If you are looking to craft a memorable brand encounter for consumers at an upcoming live event, here are eight engaging and adaptable examples of experiential marketing to inspire your next event:

1. Everyday, Evolved

An experiential marketing campaign gives potential customers a chance to imagine exactly how your product could improve their day-to-day lives. One way to do this is by simulating daily life, made better.

By using routine, ordinary places as their starting point, these experiential campaigns will already have one foot in the door with customers. The familiarity is inviting, while the novelty is exciting. Whether by transforming a bus stop into a futuristic waiting room, or by replicating your neighborhood newsstand as an informative trade show booth, many great examples of experiential marketing hit close to home.

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2. Escape Room Obstacle Course

Get your customers’ problem-solving juices flowing with an interactive escape room challenge.

Especially for products in the financial space, getting customers in the right headspace to think about issues they may rather ignore can be challenging. An experiential campaign that is framed like a fun and interactive puzzle is a great way to push past that reluctance, demonstrate the value of your product, and set your customers up for success.

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3. It’s Easy Being Green

The world over, concern about the environmental impact of consumer goods is impacting purchasing decisions in meaningful ways. Brands committed to green and sustainable business practices can use experiential marketing as a powerful way to demonstrate that they practice what they preach.

Exhibits, booths, and pop-ups made from recycled, re-purposed materials act as a living example of greener decision making. They can also be incredibly effective in demonstrating the scale of environmental issues. By providing visitors with tangible comparisons relevant to their daily lives — such as the number of plastic bottles it took to create a camping tent from recycled materials — they can feel empowered to make a positive change.

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4. Nostalgic Technology

Tech and electronics evolve at an astoundingly fast rate, transforming the gadgets of yesterday into ancient artifacts. Draw a line of continuity straight from this simpler past towards a better future with a nostalgic experiential marketing campaign.

Nostalgic marketing is hugely effective. Not only does it immediately remind visitors of cozier, simpler times, but it also underscores the potential for technological progress to completely transform our lives. Whether your target audience is boomers, millennials, or Gen-Z, nostalgia appeals to every demographic. At a time when brands everywhere are trying to communicate some abstract vision of the future, grounding marketing experiences in the past may seem counter-intuitive. But between the rose-colored glasses we wear when thinking about bygone times and the hilarity of old-school gadgets, retro technology can be just as immersive as VR headsets.

5. Tasteful Disgust

“Gross” experiences often have a visceral, hard-to-forget impact on us. With a clever design and a healthy dose of humor, you can repackage familiar scenarios associated with shame and disgust to create an edgy experiential marketing campaign that will really get people talking.

Universal real-world experiences aren’t always positive. We all know the feeling of running out of toilet paper. We all know sting of returning to your parking spot to find your car covered in bird poop. We all know the horror of fishing hair out of a clogged drain. While you don’t want to leave visitors feeling squeamish, playing to these memories and showing how your product can ease these negative experiences will earn your brand plenty of attention and word-of-mouth buzz.

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6. How Low Can You Go?

While event marketers often like to think big, we shouldn’t forget the earth beneath our feet. An experiential marketing campaign that is built into the ground is a unique way to put visitors, literally, right in the middle of the action.

Experiential marketing campaigns centered around a combination of floor stickers, in-floor installations, and low-to-the-ground displays have a number of advantages. For one thing, they don’t obstruct foot traffic and allow visitors to move freely about the exhibit. For another, engaging with the booth will require some crouching and kneeling, heightening visitors’ physical involvement with the installation. And finally, in-ground experiential marketing campaigns have the advantage of offering unique opportunities to play with perspective. From optical illusions to a bird’s eye view, your experiential marketing event can offer attendees an immersive new way of looking at your product.

7. Wanderlust

Few experiences are more universally celebrated than travel. An experiential marketing exhibit that virtually transports visitors to far off places will put them in precisely the right headspace to embrace something new.

Studies show that people are generally more open to new experiences when traveling. If you can replicate this feeling through your exhibit, your customers will be primed to have a memorable experience with your brand. By immersing visitors in the sights, sounds, and smells of a destination, you can stimulate their senses and activate their own travel aspirations.

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8. Oversized Objects

Gigantic objects have always fascinated audiences. From roadside attractions claiming to be home to the world’s largest ketchup bottle, to gigantic ceremonial checks, humans are delighted by the out-sized proportions and wild perspectives of gigantic objects. Use this fascination to your advantage with an experiential marketing campaign that magnifies the attractiveness of your product and begs attendees to climb inside and explore.

Especially for products that aren’t particularly tangible, like software and apps, it can be difficult to communicate how your product stands out from the competition. By using gigantic objects, you can zoom in on the minute specs that make your product special, giving visitors a metaphorical glimpse of your product’s inner workings. And wherever there are highly Instagrammable gigantic objects to be found, you can bet that social media buzz will follow.

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