4 Common Mistakes You Must Avoid in Experiential Marketing

Interested in Experiential Marketing? These 4 common Experiential Marketing mistakes could ruin your entire campaign. Learn how to avoid them and create a successful, engaging campaign that helps you achieve your marketing goals.

Experiential Marketing is the go-to method of marketing to your customers in a way that engages them with your brand and leaves a lasting impression. With the rise of social media, smartphones, and modern technologies, marketeers have found newer avenues to target potential customers. Many brands such as Coca Cola, Cadbury and Red Bull have managed to set themselves apart from the rest using such campaigns. While there are many examples of successful marketing campaigns, the underlying truth is that there are more examples of the ones that did not work. As creative marketeers, we should learn from others' mistakes to avoid them and to make more informed choices when designing such campaigns. So, let’s take a look at some common mistakes to avoid in Experiential Marketing:

Marketing mistakes - a blind-folded person with a bow and arrows


1. Not Knowing Your Audience

Experiential Marketing is also called Customer Experience Marketing, because potential customers are THE target for any campaign. Therefore, the biggest mistake you can make is not knowing your target audience, their needs and wants, demographics, interests etc.  The whole marketing campaign is designed to attract a particular group of people to engage with your brand.

The mismatch can go wrong in two ways: either you designed the right campaign for the wrong audience or the wrong campaign for the right audience. In either case, it can end up failing if you don’t get both right. As Marketeers the first question you should ask before designing a campaign is “Who is this campaign targeting?” followed by what, where and why.

This post is a part of our series on Experiential Marketing (visit the main page by clicking on this link) or download the guide directly in PDF format from below.
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Amazon did a massive blunder when they made a campaign that did not fare well with its target audience. To market their show, ‘Man In The High Castle’, a historic thriller based in an alternate world of Nazi-acquired America, they revamped a car in a New York subway train and put revamped Nazi Flags and Coat of arms of Imperial Japan. This offended the crowds as it seemed to undermine the impact of Nazi Germany on the USA and the sacrifices of many of its soldiers. It offended the sentiments of their audience and ended up being the wrong campaign for the right audience.

 amazon prime the man in the high castle statue of liberty

2. Wrong Location

Most marketeers spend time on brainstorming and planning the campaign but overlook a very crucial aspect of it: the location. Location plays an integral role in defining the success or failure of your campaign. Location plays  a role in two different ways:

1. Geographic

2. Positional

Geographically, it is important for you to know at which location your target audience spends most of their time. Depending on which product, service or brand you are marketing, the customers would be found at very distinct places and you need to find those right places. A lot of the times, great campaigns fail to achieve good results because they are engaging with people who are not their ideal target audience.

On the other hand, once you have identified that sweet spot where your customers spend most of their time, you need to position your campaign in a way that it enables maximum engagement. Placing it in a position where your target audience seldom goes, reduces the outcome of your campaign drastically. A cautionary note for marketeers using public places: think it through and take permission from all authorities before going ahead or you might end up getting in trouble.

An example of how an experiential marketing campaign went wrong due to the wrong location is Dr. Pepper. As part of their campaign they placed a golden coin in 23 cities across the US and the person who found it first would win a 1 million dollars. In Boston, they released a hint that implied that the coin is in the historic Burial Ground where many American Revolutionary patriots are buried. This incited hundreds of people to visit that ground and the authorities had to close down the doors to avoid disturbance to the graves. From this, you can learn the importance of the right location.

Dr Pepper's gold coin advertising stunt leads to boston closing off burial site

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3. Lack of audience engagement

Let’s say you have successfully identified your target audience, decided the right location and designed a campaign accordingly. What could go wrong, right?

The worst thing that can happen is that the audience does not engage with your campaign. This can happen when the experiential marketing campaign is too complex, time-taking for the people, not attention grabbing, offensive or not planned well. To avoid such mistakes, you as a creative marketeer, can do multiple things.

Firstly, you can conduct a small demo of it at the location before the whole campaign takes place.

Secondly, you may look at past campaigns of other brands to see what kind of activities have engaged users in the past.

Thirdly, you can even look at survey and feedback data available on such campaigns done in the past. The goal is for you to be  familiar enough with your target audience’s mind to know what will hold their attention in a time when they are handling thousands of stimuli  each day.

Also see: What Do You Need For Killer Audience Engagement

 BottleRock_Napa_Valley_2017_Adrian_Spinelli - 05

BottleRock Napa Valley

4. The Wrong Use of Technology

In this day and age, modern technologies have opened new and unique doors for marketeers to reach their audiences. With technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality, it is now possible  for users to engage with brands in extended and alternate realities which leave a lasting impression on their minds.

From Magic Mirrors to trying on clothes to Augmented Reality games, there are many Experiential Marketing examples using technology that worked very well. But, using technology in the right way is also important. Planning an activity using cool extended reality technology is not enough as it needs to incorporate the brand and what it offers as well.

The  common mistake committed  by a lot of marketeers is that they plan an activity that the users find interesting, but the brand gets side-lined because of that. An example of that would be to set up a Virtual Reality booth where users play games virtually and then handing them the pamphlets of your company to take home and read. In such a case, most people will throw them away and only remember the cool game they just played. It then becomes necessary to include your brand's features in the story-line of the game/activity.

When done right, there is a lot to learn from Experiential Marketing campaigns but there is perhaps more to be learned from the campaigns that went wrong. The mistakes of the past guide us in making successful Experiential Marketing events in the future for brands to increase awareness and engagement with their target audience.

As we saw, not knowing your audience, being at the wrong location, not engaging your audience enough and not using technology in the right way could lead to possible failure of your campaign.

So, do keep these in mind when designing any future events. After learning from the mistakes to avoid in experiential marketing campaigns, do check out our step by step guide on how to create a stellar experiential marketing campaign.