Don’t Forget About Experiential Marketing in 2020

Every five years, you can expect a new flavor of marketing to emerge and become the most picked flavor at the ice cream shop. Remember when guerilla marketing was the rage? Flash mobs were everywhere and the CEO of Lifelock publicized his Social Security number for people to try and steal.

Marketing tactics come and go with the tides. But strategies last decades.

So, when everything is going digital, the physical is an opportunity in itself. Experiential marketing is not to be overlooked in 2020. In fact, it might be just the edge you need to create a buzzworthy moment.

Ideas in Experiential Marketing

Experiential marketing is all about creating a memory. Doing something that’s just a little askew from people’s normal lives.

But because the effectiveness of an experiential marketing campaign reduces by a factor of 10 with every copycat, I’d like to share some of the more memorable experiential marketing campaigns so that you get inspired to think up your own (not to copy).

Netflix Theatre

After closing its doors for good, the iconic Paris Theatre in New York City was leased by Netflix. They’ll be showing their most prestigious films there and doing new screenings. One, it’s a way for them to sidestep AMC and Regal, who’ve been shunning Netflix. Two, it’s a physical touchpoint with Netflix that has been non-existent since their days of Qwikster.

Lesson: Use experiential marketing as a co-branding opportunity. Pick a partner with an audience that would be interested in your brand, but might otherwise be difficult to reach. Make sure your partner would benefit from your audience, too – you want the experience to be a win-win-win: for you, your co-brand, and the consumer.

D Rose Jump Store

During Derrick Rose’s heyday in Chicago, the basketball player was nothing short of a God to the city. His journey from Englewood to the United Center was everything that a Chicago kid dreamed of. So having him show up for a sneaker signing would be grand enough.

However, Adidas took it to the next level and created a campaign called the D Rose Jump Store. Sitting atop a shelf 10ft in the air were his new signature shoes. Anyone could come in the Jump Store and jump to grab a free pair of his sneakers. It was a marketing success that is memorable to littlest kids up to adults.

Lesson: Find the “fun” factor. Even if your product isn’t useful to kids, appeal to the kid spirit in everyone. It’s easy to get caught up in how much your brand helps solve your customer’s problem. But what would also bring them enjoyment?

Dunkin Bus

Dunkin Donuts outfitted a select few buses in Seoul with aromatizers that sprayed the smell of coffee onto buses whenever their radio advertisement played. Sales of the Dunkin shops near bus stops during the campaign rose 16%.

Lesson: Remember the “you’re already there” approach. Find out where your audience is already hanging out and engage them there, instead of trying to get them to take action where they don’t usually spend their time.

Looking at these grand brands doing experiential campaigns can seem daunting. How can your small business do the same? The reality is that you don’t have to be at their scale to accomplish this. In fact, the smaller brands might be more agile in Experiential Marketing.

More and more companies are turning to these campaigns because they “wow” the people present and also go far organically on social media. Lululemon opened up a library in downtown NYC. Walmart has an esports arena. DTC companies are beginning to look into building physical DTC Department Stores.

Experiential marketing doesn’t have to be one and done either. I still think the Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotics Kiosk in Walgreens is one of the best long-term experiential marketing strategies ever.

So what plans do you have for experiential marketing in 2020?

The common line of thinking is to have a conference of some sort. And yes, these work. But how many conferences have left a mark on your memory?

Challenge yourself to make something different.