Experiential Marketing is about an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. The idea is to give an immersive experience to the consumer engaging as many human senses as possible, contrary to what is achievable by any traditional form of marketing.
Brands have recognized the need for live experiences - We are all aware of that - right?
Marketers often ask a question to themselves:
If you can’t bring consumers to a branded experience, can you bring the brand experience to the consumer?
Yes! This is what is termed as Experiential Marketing - in the new age marketer’s parlance. Let us dive into an experience from Heineken- the Dutch brewing company.
Bottle with a Mission: “Heineken Experience”
The Dutch brewing company developed a unique experience with a simple aim – promoting and selling the world-famous pale lager beer from the brand. 
An interactive tour that enabled the visitors to experience what is called the history of Heineken - with the real entertainment at the end - unlimited drinks. The GPS-enabled, signature green bottles of Heineken lured the visitors into the experience - placed at easily spottable, random spots in the city.
The customer picks up a bottle and the vibrating built-in-compass guides the customer to follow a route - finally landing up in the Heineken experience. The ploy that worked perfectly in favor of Heineken - 7,30,000 visitors and growing every year.
What then is Experiential Marketing?
The attention span of average consumers is merely eight seconds. Companies must relate to the customers with something that is relevant to them - within this short span of time through Experiential Marketing.
There is a clear rationale that works behind experiential marketing. The consumer is said to buy a product, all that is based on the personal interaction with the brand – that is the experience with brand. This is what generates the brand loyalty. 
Real World Benefits of Experiential Marketing
As customer expectations are increasingly on the rise, traditional marketing fails to leave a lasting impact - rather the “low sticky value” in the minds of the clients. This is where experiential marketing scores over the traditional form. 
Moreover, there might be higher costs upfront for the experiential marketing, higher returns are assured too. Traditional marketing is instrumental in reaching out to millions, whereas experiential marketing manages in thousands.
Furthermore, experiential marketing leverages on peer-to-peer recommendations as it connects to one person at a time.
Why Is It Trusted Over Traditional Digital Marketing
Experiential marketing taps emotions and feelings through a branded event- that evokes an experience about the brand. This, in turn, evokes trust in the minds of the customer. 
Coming Down To The Brass Tacks – The Rewards
Big risks yield big returns – we know that, right?
One good example would be the “Whatever USA” event on experiential marketing from Bud light- the American manufacturer of light lager beer.
There were thousands of summer on-premise events and virtual auditions as part of their marketing campaign. At least 2,40,000 millennials applied and out which only about a thousand had the privilege of attending a weekend event. 
Putting the experience in the words of Jorn Socquet, the brand’s vice president of marketing, “The experience drove an increase in Bud Light sales over the critical summer season, resulted in more than 200,000 auditions to attend, and helped us build stronger connections with our consumers than ever before”.
However, the marketer will not always aim for an experience as big as Bud Light.
Sometimes, it is appropriate to incorporate an experiential element to an event. One instance is that of a pharmaceutical company that incorporates an immersive experience for the attendees in its exhibits - the look and the feel of a specific condition.
Yet again, sometimes technology drives engaging and emotive opportunities. An immersive experience for the attendees of an event that the marketer conducts may happen through a microsite, customized app or merely through a Facebook group.
Serving the Real Value: ROI
The ROI is what matters. According to the EventTrack Study in 2015, 74% of participants in that study experienced a positive brand perception, after an event. It is this event experience that acts as the driving force – for purchasing the brand. 
It is worthwhile to mention the world-record breaking event called “Red Bull Stratos” - an experience of jumping from space to earth. The YouTube videos on the same event managed millions of views. Six months following the event - Red Bull’s sales in the U.S went up by 7 %.
In the context of the above example, it seems that Experiential Marketing is all about sales, but the real ROI is fetching customer connection. The benefit is to pull more and more people into the brand, which eventually works as the ROI.
Here are some of the Experiential Marketing tools:
Generating Revenue by Solving a Business Problem
Hackathons are events, where a bunch of eager developers works for a day or two- within the limits of a confined space.  They are termed as a highly engaging and continuous event that produces a prototype, that too, within a limited time.  The real challenge lies in transforming the prototypes into a final product.
Moreover, events like this act as modes of breaking the organizational inertia, as companies search for more innovation-driven culture. Hackathon events are means of experiential marketing – that which assault your senses. In the end, it is customer experience -a creative disruption, admittedly in a visceral way.
However, hackathons are not meant for creating new products only but are useful in driving innovation in the organizations, at breakneck speed, something that is achievable only for the startups.
Community Building through Certifications
A community of people is built around certification software - spreading word of mouth. Certification helps the company to educate a community of people, who invest their time, learning -how to use the tool or service. Sometimes, it is beneficial to drive the adoption of technology.
Certification platforms from Mettl also help to drive community management, which helps to build a brand voice. The certification platform at Optimizely is a perfect example of how a community of developers will be keen to acquire skill sets based on certifications.
Building Brand Memories
Experiential marketing is an experience for a customer - to touch, feel, or participate. The customer immerses into the experience through this engagement - possibly the best way to connect with the customer.
And it is this customer connection that acts as the real ROI.
Hackathons and certifications are tools in the hands of the experiential marketers - driving this connected experience.
The emotional connection builds the importance of a mutually beneficial touchpoint - a valuable experience producing an expanded reach. 
Experience Marketing creates a close bond with the customer - culminating into a memorable experience. The goodwill and the positivity that is generated out of this experience then get associated with the brand.
This is just about a broad outline on Experiential Marketing, but you need to rope in the strategies that constitute a successful campaign - we have that covered too, in our e-paper on “Experiential Marketing.”
Topics: Domain Skill Assessment