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Experiential Marketing for Small Businesses

With all the buzz surrounding experiential marketing, many small business owners and brands are seeking ways to integrate this strategy into their marketing plans.  But with a much smaller budget than their Fortune 500 counterparts, many think that experiential is out of their reach.  We’re here to tell you, it’s not.  The beautiful thing about experiential marketing is that it is not a one-size-fits-all approach.  There are no rigid rules, and the only one that can put a price tag on your efforts is you.

Experiential is all about making meaningful connections with consumers and developing long-lasting relationships through face-to-face, hands-on experiences.  So no, you don’t need a million-dollar budget to do that or even a six-figure budget.  There are several experiential tactics that small businesses can use to successfully reach consumers without breaking the bank.

Why Does Experiential Marketing Work?

Before we dive into the strategies, let’s first examine what experiential marketing is and why it works so darn well.  Unlike traditional marketing strategies like print and radio ads that target passive consumers, experiential actively engages consumers.  And instead of the typical advertising noise that goes in one ear and out the other, brand experiences stimulate the senses and encourage interactivity which creates an emotional tie to the brand.  Those emotional ties form deep and meaningful connections that just don’t happen with traditional ads.

What Can Small Businesses Expect from Experiential Marketing?

  1. Experiential creates buzz and builds brand awareness. Consumers may have never heard of your brand, but when you get your product or service directly in front of them, you’ll spark their curiosity while making a memorable impression on them that won’t soon be forgotten.
  2. It creates two-way conversations that foster trust. Experiential allows you to directly engage with consumers through conversations.  Whether that be the president of the company speaking to a potential customer at a trade show or a brand ambassador speaking to a passer-by on the street.  Experiential allows the consumer to feel like they are a part of the brand’s story.  Thus, they feel welcomed, and more importantly, they feel heard.  All those factors create a sense of trust, and that trust leads to brand loyalty and lifelong customers.
  3. It drives sales.  Here, the numbers speak for themselves.  Ninety-eight percent of consumers are more inclined to make a purchase after an experience, and get this, 65% of marketers see direct sales boosts from experiential marketing.

4 Experiential Marketing Tactics for Small Businesses

1.  Street Team Marketing

Street team marketing (also known as guerrilla marketing) is one of the most cost-effective experiential strategies.  This strategy consists of putting together a team of brand ambassadors who will hit the streets and promote your brand to consumers where they work, live, and play.  You can opt to distribute product samples or branded giveaways, offer incentives that will drive traffic to a physical or online location, demonstrate your product or service, collect leads, and more.  Street team and guerrilla marketing is a tried and true strategy that has helped make a name for companies for decades.

2.  Product Sampling Events

Product sampling events are a great way to introduce your brand to customers, launch new products, and create awareness for existing products.  These types of events work particularly well for food and beverage companies, but they can work for other industries as well.  By allowing consumers to try before they buy, you give them the opportunity to discover something new with no strings attached and consumers dig that.

3.  Trade Shows and Expos

Trade shows are a great way to get exposure for your small business without spending a fortune.  In today’s experience-driven space, companies are turning to experiential tactics to reach attendees by breathing life into the once boring and stiff booth space.  Keep in mind though, when exhibiting at a trade show, you have to stand out.  You need a FOMO (fear of missing out) factor.  Something that will grab the attendees attention, drive traffic to your booth, and makes people want to stay at your booth.

4.  Host an Event

If you are a small business with a brick-and-mortar space, host an event, workshop, or demonstration that will offer your customers a fun and unique experience. For example, a coffee shop owner could team up with a local potter and host a “paint your own mug” event with complimentary beverages and bakery items.  Customers can sample the shop’s coffee, interact with employees, and participate in a fun activity.  Anything that will draw people to your brand while allowing you to interact with them is a win-win.  If you don’t have a physical space, team up with another business or host a pop-up event.  There are a lot of options for small business owners when it comes to hosting events, just choose the right fit for you and your goals.

14 Quick Tips to Get You Started with Experiential

  1. Set realistic expectations and determine your goals.
  2. Identify which strategy will work for you and how you will execute it.
  3. Create a reasonable timeline.
  4. Create your budget.
  5. Determine your target audience.
  6. Choose a location, event, and/or venue that best suits your needs.
  7. Secure vendors and permits.
  8. Get your logistics in order.
  9. Hire experienced brand ambassadors to promote your brand.
  10. Determine your KPIs and how you will measure them.
  11.  Create a pre-event and post-event engagement strategy that keeps the conversation going.
  12. Develop a social media marketing plan for yourself as well as one that incorporates consumer-generated content.  And be sure to include elements like hashtags, photo ops, check-ins, ETC.  Anything that gets your attendees talking to their social networks can do wonders for your small business.
  13. Learn from your mistakes and from your triumphs.
  14. Have fun. Experiential marketing is electric. Nothing compares to the feeling you will get when you see your customers having fun with your brand.

When you’re ready to experiment with experiential marketing for your small business, you’ll need a team of experienced brand ambassadors to help you take your brand to the next level.  Since 2002, ATN Event Staffing has helped brands and companies of all sizes reach their marketing goals.

Need Event Staff?  ATN Has You Covered.