Coronavirus Canceled Experiential Marketing

Coronavirus Canceled Experiential Marketing

Way back in 2019, experiential marketing was taking the world by storm. Eventbrite defined it as:

Experiential marketing is a strategy that engages consumers using branded experiences. Sometimes referred to as ‘live marketing’ or ‘event marketing experience,’ the idea is to create a memorable impact on the consumer. One that will inspire them to share with their friends both online and off.”

The idea was that consumers, particularly young adults, were so absorbed in their digital lives that they pined for experiences IRL (in real life). Also, there was a perception that experiential marketing fought against consumerism– that people stopped wanting to acquire things and instead sought to acquire memories.

Coronavirus Canceled Experiential Marketing

One particularly “elevated” example featured a pop-up restaurant suspended 150 ft. in the air by a crane. In an attempt to out-do competitors, things were getting pretty wild.

Then COVID-19 Changed Everything

When consumer experience across the globe became focused on the best ways to socially distance from other people, experiential marketing was instantly canceled.

I’ve never witnessed the complete death of a marketing trend so quickly. During 2019, I fielded constant questions about marketing with events, experiences and in-person. Now, many people don’t even remember that experiential marketing existed.

Some Marketing Agencies Try to Revive Experiential Marketing

As we roll into spring and summer, marketing agencies that saw setbacks from coronavirus are trying to revive interest in experiential marketing:

Should Small Businesses Invest in Experiential Marketing?

The short answer to that question is, “Not right now.”

Today, small business marketing budget would be better spent towards online engagement efforts with customers, and to some extent, recruiting for new employees.

Experiential marketing has a significant “cool” factor for brands seeking to gain publicity and generate buzz. But it’s very expensive, and business results are hard to track. With any marketing effort, small businesses want to avoid the “flash in the pan” or “one hit wonder” effect: putting resources into one big push that has limited impact once it’s over.

Need help with your small business marketing? Contact us.

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