Experiential Marketing: What Even Is It?

I spent the last five years working as a freelance writer, which means I mostly just sat on my couch watching cat videos on YouTube and eating Doritos. Occasionally, I even wrote things. (What it also means is that I have a veritable goldmine of cat video recommendations under my belt. Look at this one. It’s a cat that’s dressed like a shark and riding a Roomba. Absolutely spectacular.)

There once was a time when I knew nothing about experiential marketing. My knowledge went as far as the fact that I knew what both of those words meant separately, but not together. Once it was explained to me, however, I realized I already knew what experiential marketing was. And so do you. I know you do. Believe in yourself.

wheat-thinsSo what is it? It’s when the experience itself serves as the marketing campaign, creating a direct and meaningful connection between the consumer and the brand. It’s when Red Bull sponsored the Felix Baumgartner jump. It was TNT’s “Push to Add Drama” button in Belgium that went viral. It was when we partnered JCPenney with Rascal Flatts to give fans a VIP tour experience they’d never forget. At its most basic, experiential marketing means you’re selling an experience instead of a product, and let’s be real. We’d all prefer to experience something rather than have our 7-second cat video interrupted by a 30-second ad, especially when it’s a video of a cat walking backwards on its hind legs. Am I right, or am I right?

According to EventTrack 2015, a metric sh*tload of consumers (98%, to be exact) say they are more inclined to purchase from a brand after attending some sort of experiential event, and 47% say they post about it on social media. Consumers want to experience things. They want to be able to answer the question “What did you do today?” with “Well, I stopped by Times Square, met Kelly Osbourne, saw a Wheat Thins sculpture made out of 400 balloons, and ate half my weight in free samples. I even took pictures to liven up my Instagram.”

So now that you are officially in the know about all things experiential (go you!), we have time for one more cat video. These cats are playing patty-cake, and it’ll make you believe in a better tomorrow.

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