Four Takeaways for Associations From Experiential Marketing

With brands increasingly dedicated to putting on events to strengthen consumer interest, associations could gain a lot from borrowing some of experiential marketing’s best points.

Events over stuff.

For companies looking to turn fans into superfans, experiential marketing has become an important tactic to reach desired audiences, as there are opportunities, whether at the events of others or with their own concerts or meetings, to maximize the reach of their messages.

And associations, which often work in related parts of the event industry, could benefit significantly from experiential tactics. A few things to know about experiential marketing that associations might be able to take back to their annual meeting:

It’s perfect for reaching millennial audiences. If you’re looking to get your foot in the door with a younger audience, you might want to consider your event strategy. A recent study from the firm Splash found that more than half of millennials (56 percent) signed up for an email list based on an event the brand put on, while two-thirds of millennials (67 percent) followed a brand on social media because of an event. Of course, that goes both ways—if an invite is considered ugly, 40 percent will avoid the event entirely.

The impact can be felt well past the event. If an event is awesome, attendees will tell their friends. According to recent research from Set Creative, 91 percent of attendees said they shared their most memorable event experiences with others. So it makes sense that people are looking for more of them—in the past two years, 40 percent of American and British consumers have increased their spending on events, compared with 29 percent that have increased the number of items they’ve purchased. As associations have already mastered this approach, it only makes sense that they could potentially benefit from it, in much the same way marketing firms benefit from experiential approaches.

The tactics must make sense with your brand’s DNA. In recent comments to Marketing Daily, Citi Global Consumer Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Breithaupt said the company had embraced experiential and purpose-driven marketing approaches to help push forward its brand messages. But she noted that when there’s a purpose behind your message, it must make sense with what your brand represents. “We place an enormous premium on both given our global goals, and tie back to our mission of enabling growth and progress,” she told the outlet. “Purpose-driven initiatives need to be a part of your brand DNA to work effectively.”

If you’ve earned attendees’ trust, you can get away with more. At Coachella this year, Adidas took advantage of its affiliation with the concert’s headliner, Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover), to pull off a marketing stunt. At the event, Glover used the iOS tool AirDrop to reach out to fans. Anyone who accepted the photo would receive a pair of his unreleased sneakers and be required to sign a contract to wear them around the festival. As Marketing Land notes, the strategy reflects the ability for Adidas to take advantage of its affiliation with an influential celebrity and use his fans’ trust to help amplify its message among attendees.

(designer491/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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