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Creating brand loyalty through an emotional connection is the "Holy Grail" of marketing achievements and, today, this has never been more true. Consumers in general, and millennials in particular, are prioritizing their spending on experiences rather than products alone. Tie your brand to a positive customer experience or emotional connection, and you're more likely to develop a customer for life.

Experiential Marketing, sometimes called engagement marketing, live marketing, or participation marketing, is a strategy to engage consumers and connect them to a brand through fun and memorable experiences. The premise is to develop more intimate relationships by creating sharable, media-worthy, real-life experiences. The more interactive the experience, the stronger the emotional bond. If a campaign, promotion, or brand event stirs positive emotions in people, they are more likely to associate those emotions with that brand.

But, achieving this connection in the digital age is becoming more difficult. As we look for better ways to grow current business and attract new customers, there are challenges using digital channels alone… these channels are over saturated, easily bypassed, and have a low "sticky value" — a lack of a lasting impact in the consumer's mind. Brand recall is often much higher with traditional channels, especially when there's a "touchable" brand experience.

This is great news for those utilizing direct mail, trade shows, catalogs, and targeted digital marketing tactics. If you look at one's physical mailbox today, it's remarkably uncluttered compared to the overwhelming volume of messages being distributed through digital media — the print channel is still one of the most effective engagement drivers today. Print can play a critical role in making connections, because it's one of the only channels that can stimulate all five senses… touch, sight, taste, smell and yes, hearing. Just think of how creative you can be integrating a variety of print methods with your digital channels — event signage, banners, vehicle wraps, direct mail or take-away literature. Print, and especially direct mail, are naturals for any experiential marketing campaign.

Here are a few examples of some highly-successful experiential marketing campaigns:

Santa Claus' Intern, WestJet Airlines.

In an amazing pairing of technology, the holiday spirit, and social media, in 2013 WestJet asked passengers boarding a flight from southern Ontario to Calgary what they wanted for Christmas. Little did the passengers realize their answers were being recorded. While they flew through the skies unaware, over 150 of the WestJet "elves" visited local stores procuring the gifts. When the flight landed four hours later, their gifts were awaiting them at baggage claim. Passengers were overjoyed. The airline released a video of the merriment, and committed to donating flights to Ronald McDonald House Charities for families of critically-ill children once the video reached 200,000 views. The video has been viewed over 45 million times.


Experiential marketing isn't limited to consumer brands. An enterprising software dot-com created great buzz by sending a Perrier Jouet flower bottle box, containing the hand-painted glasses, but missing the bottle of wine, to CTO and CMO targets at Fortune 500 companies. Inside the box was the pitch: "Give us 15 minutes of your time, and we'll give you something to celebrate." The missing bottle would be delivered at the sales call. The campaign resulted in an astounding 90% of recipients taking the meeting — unheard of when marketing to C-level prospects. Perrier Jouet photo: Lehigh Valley, PA

Experiential Direct Mail.

But keep in mind, highly-effective marketing experiences don't have to be huge events or elaborate productions. They can be simple promotions or campaigns. Remember, your goal is to create an emotional connection — find that authentic connection to your brand.

Simpler, yet just as effective, experimental campaigns can be driven by direct mail and supported by a multitude of digital channels. Look at how these print and direct mail pieces engage the customer as they drive them to the next channel of the campaign.

If you want to remain top of mind for more than just a few seconds, try creating a viral, lasting impression through connected, impactful experiential marketing activations.

Contact us today if you would like to learn more!


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