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Experiential marketing and the role of direct response

Experiential marketing is a strategy to engage consumers and invites and encourages them to become a participant in a brand in the physical world. They are often outrageous and are certainly unexpected, often bordering on a public relations stunt. Their execution often centers around popular sporting or cultural events, where thought leaders in a given demographic are the targeted participants. The best experiential marketing campaigns generate some combination of buzz, social sharing, viral video and even extensive media coverage.

Experiential marketing examples

Some of our favorite examples of experiential marketing:

The Weinermobile. You've probably seen or heard of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. It's iconic, dating back to the 1950s. It is responsbile for countless smiles and chuckles and over 60 years later is still building the Oscar Meyer brand. Weinermobile photo: Jeremy Noble

The Red Bull car. A more modern example is the Red Bull car. With its can of energy jutting from the top, these vehicles are known to cruise around campuses all across the United States, sometimes handing out free samples of Red Bull's energy drink and always turning heads. Red Bull photo: Michael Curl

Kwik-E-Marts. Kwik-E-Mart is the shop run by Apu in The Simpsons. 20th Century Fox partnered with 7-Eleven to transform 12 stores into Kwik-E-Marts to coincide with the release of The Simpsons Movie. 7-Eleven also offered an exclusive, special edition Radioactive Man comic book, had cardboard cut-outs of life-size citizens of Springfield, and limited quantities of KrustyO's cereal, Buzz Cola, and Squishee frozen drinks. Amazing for the folks near these 7-Elevens but seen by millions online and via traditional media coverage. Kwik-E-Mart/Burbank photo: flick off

GOT/Blinkbox. UK streaming service Blinkbox dumped a bus-sized dragon's skull on an English beach to coincide with the release of one of the Game of Thrones seasons. It garnered over 250 pieces of press coverage overall. Blinkbox achieved its biggest-ever day of trading and saw a 632% revenue increase. Dragon Skull Photo: Herring Taylor

Milka. European Chocolatier Milka manufactured 10 million bars that were missing a small square from the bar's grid of chocolate. Included inside the package was an explanation: The piece had been set aside and Milka could either mail it to the buyer or to someone whom the buyer chose with a personalized message. Send someone you love (or were interested in!) a piece of chocolate with a note. It was brilliant as it created an emotional connection while building brand awareness among the universe of recipients chosen buy the buyers to receive that single square of chocolate. Hasellnuss photo: Amanda Smith

Sprockets. Experiential Marketing isn't limited to consumer brands. One enterprise software dot-com got great buzz when they sent a Perrier Jouet flower bottle box, with 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. They offered to drop the missing bottle off 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 marketing = experience marketing

Studies show that consumers in general and millennials in particular are opting to prioritizing their spend on experiences rather than on things. This is great news below-the-line marketers, i.e. those relying on direct mail campaigns, trade shows and catalogs, and targeted search engine marketing. With its low "sticky value," digital challenge for marketers is its lack of lasting impact in the consumer's mind. Brand recall is often much higher in traditional marketing (print/mail), especially when there is a "touchable" brand experience to with which to engage. It's conmmon sense after all: One's mailbox is remarkably uncluttered these days compared to the overwhelming volume of digital ads and emails.

Experiential marketing enables personal connections between your brand and your customers by creating sharable, media-worthy, real-life experience. The better the campaign, the stronger the memories and emotional bonds between the brand and its audience.

Print plays a critical role in experiential marketing, where there may be needs for event signage, vehicle wraps, direct mail or take-away literature. Print is by its nature physical and is a natural fit for experiential campaigns.

In order to stand out and have your brand remain top of mind for more than a few seconds, you need to create viral and lasting impressions through connected, impactful experiential marketing activations. Here is where our DataShot service comes in: We combine Experiential Direct Mail with an acquired, highly-targeted list to drive customers to your landing page or full-blown customer website.

Finding an authentic voice from a brand has always been the hurdle brands need to get over. Use experiential marketing to start the customer journey and then follow an information trail until they are satisfied and you close the sale.


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