Diving Into Experiential Marketing

Last week, my colleague Che Correa and I attended the Fox River Ad Club’s Experiential Marketing presentation by Ian Lawrow of Svedvik Collective. Less than a week later, we’ve tested some of his tactics and here is what we’ve found…

What is Experiential Marketing?

Engagement marketing, sometimes called “experiential marketing,” “event marketing”, “on-ground marketing”, “live marketing” or “participation marketing,” is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages consumers to participate in the evolution of a brand.

(Definition from Wikipedia)

calendar samples
Calendars produced for our Calendar Girls For ALS project. Learn more about the calendars at SmokyLakeMaple.com
Che and Angela hang their show at The Flying Pig
Angela Schumacher and Che Correa

This past weekend, Che and I had our opening reception at The Flying Pig Gallery and Greenspace in Algoma for a photography series we have been collaborating on since March.

The mission of our photography project, Calendar Girls For ALS, is to raise money for the nonprofit organization, Compassionate Care ALS, in honor of maple syrup producer, Eric Johnson. Though our photography was shot with the initial purpose of simply being sold in a 2016 calendar, I pushed to get our series into a gallery space as well in order to help us spread the word about what we were doing and reach new audiences.

It’s true, getting the art into The Flying Pig Gallery was a huge help in getting the word out about our project. However, after last week’s presentation by Ian Lawrow on experiential marketing, Che and I realized how important it was for us to engage with our audience at our upcoming opening reception. We wanted people to keep talking about our project after they left our show. We needed to take this to the next level.

But with only two days of lead time and zero budget, how were we going to pull together any meaningful experiential marketing plan? Ian had said experiential marketing was the most expensive form of advertising. He also mentioned that it typically required a lot of planning and lead time. Was experiential marketing a bad fit for our fundraiser?

experiential marketing
Examples of the free photo take aways we created during our gallery reception.

Our solution: Everyone who attended our art show had the opportunity to star in their very own Calendar Girls for ALS photo (fully clothed but appearing in an maple-themed scene). Photos were tagged with our project’s branding and printed immediately so that people could have something tangible to take home. They loved it.

From 11am to 2pm on Sunday, a steady flow of people came through our gallery reception. The photo booth that we had set up made us more approachable and made it much easier to start a dialog. I mean let’s face it, it’s not always easy striking up a conversation with a stranger about nude photography, right? (Side note: My parents attended the event and I think I saw my dad blushing. Ha ha.) Our photo booth gave us a nice, comfortable platform which allowed us to talk with folks about our mission and the importance of our cause. We were happy to also talk with people about the art itself, but at least having the photo booth gave the more timid or conservative souls an alternative direction for conversation. In addition, Che was able to demonstrate her photography skills LIVE which was great exposure for her growing photography business.

Of course, people loved being able to take home something FREE from the event. And since every photo had the name of our project on it, we know our project will remain a talking point long after the reception has ended. Through sales of our Calendar Girls For ALS calendar during the reception, we raised over $550 for our charity in just a few short hours and sales on our website saw a nice spike that day too.

We were lucky enough to have all our photo paper, ink and the high quality portable printer donated to us by a very generous friend of the gallery. Che brought all her own lighting, camera and tethering equipment. All of the props for scenery came from my own shop with the exception of a few items that I was able to borrow from friends. In all, our experiential marketing efforts didn’t cost us a single cent. Just a little last minute determination… And it was totally worth it. Success!

How about you? How are you putting the information from Ian Lawrow’s presentation to good use? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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