Experiential Marketing – Catering to Today’s Well-Informed Customers: by Rama K, Brand Expert

Experiential is the junction where sales and marketing come together, where their objectives coincide and they find value in what each brings to the table writes Rama K.


Brand Equity’s Forrester 2019 prediction report mentioned that in 2019, Brands will need to have a larger purpose and will need to stand for the value they offer. CMOs this year are investing heavily on building brands therefore. In fact their intellectual quotient and boardroom contribution has morphed their roles into Chief Growth Officers (CGOs) and CEOs will also play the role of Chief Experiential Officers (CXOs) considering a brand’s holistic experience is now key to the company culture even. On that happy note, marketing across B2B and B2C should have a lot to contribute keeping us busy.

Being a marketer, I had the opportunity to participate in BW Businessworld’s Experiential Marketing Summit and Awards recently as jury and panel. 

A marketing channel currently in its early preteens and youth stage, experiential or guerilla or engagement marketing is a direct, face to face marketing where the organization gets an opportunity to meet with prospects, customers, partners and sell its offerings with a theme or concept to recall. Look at this as a form of marketplace of yesteryears where digital and physical and their cousins did not exist. What people and communities knew was to go to market and buy or sell their wares.

The idea behind experiential is the use of sensory, emotional, cognitive and rational values to the consumers. The use of the word engagement is critical as it appeals to an emotion of the customer and involvesthe end user. Today experiential marketing caters to a whole lot of the digital aspect and brings along with it AR, VR. Experiential is also an important component of the post-sale when used as client advocacy, sales support, loyalty programs or validating purchases. Experiential at some level has added several notches more than what today’s advertising offers.

Experiential marketing always existed. Whether it be event management, youth marketing, street marketing, travel marketing, mobile marketing, and other such. The names may vary and so the forms. While these are offline, online tools include email campaigns, webinars, blog and social. It is also applicable to internal communications within an organization in the form of holding product demo stalls or floor performance to announce a cultural change or an organizational development or, even a play to introduce a new concept or product.

A marketer could be nurturing a lead in its journey or the organization could be cross selling or upselling. A client could also be waiting to cross the dotted line to sign up. Experiential works in all these cases.

A couple of buzzwords associated with today’s marketing includes content, digital, social, analytics, automation, promotion. In my earlier avatar with a well-known global automotive brand, the marketing team took one of its niche product in a vehicle across the country and got users to test it, use it, and even try it on their furniture before deciding to buy it with a discounted gift coupon. 

Another IT organization I worked closely along with its technology partner used booths with solution demos and games at the counter to help understand better. B2C and experiential go hand in hand with several examples but B2B today is no less. Customers and prospects are well informed that they believe in touching, feeling, understanding, experiencing before buying. 

What element of emotion we add to the experiential medium is critical. Sometimes it can be an element of curiosity, of suspense, of envy, of magnanimousness or of fun.  Sometimes that is the element you want your brand to be associated. You could also leave a message at the end of the experience in the form of a promise or motto, something for the user to take away. The impact can be across channels- digital, physical, mobile while keeping one channel the central piece but tied to the overall customer buying journey.

B2B IT services organizations also spend considerably in deal based marketing, client visits to vendor campuses, ambience branding with different elements of experiential. The nomenclatures may be different but the goal is to give the client a look and feel similar to the brand, color, brand values, and similar appearance of facility even, ensuring the integration between the client and service partner takes place smoothly. 

Thanks to technology coming in early in the game, organizations can decide if this particular channel would even work for the deal at hand, or the client, or the industry or even at the location. India being a high-growth, high-impact market, we are only at the tip of the iceberg of having explored this channel and its strengths. 

Experiential is the junction where sales and marketing come together, where their objectives coincide and they find value in what each brings to the table. Treat this as a ‘middle of the sales funnel’ mechanism and use it diligently - so it should serve its purpose.

But do not forget that any form of marketing today is measurable and so experiential’s measure needs to tend to the positive to be called in for ‘repetitive experiences’.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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