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November 4, 2020 - By Hawke Media

What Comic-Con Can Teach Us About Experiential Marketing

Comic-Con is back for another year, and the streets of downtown San Diego will be filled with attendees, not to mention scores of brands looking to take advantage of the built-in audience through some killer experiential marketing.Don’t know about you, but we’re especially stoked for Shake Shack’s transformation into Bob’s Burgers, where they’ll be serving a specialty burger called “Can I Have Your Slaw-tograph” for this weekend only.Even if you’ve never experienced the craziness that is Comic-Con, we’d be shocked if you haven’t heard of some of the incredible activations created by television networks, brands and companies. Last year, HBO’s “Winter is Here” activation immersed fans in the Game of Thrones world by taking them to locations like Winterfell, King’s Landing and North of the Wall. Guests were given custom swag and each location had a touchpoint that provided ready-to-share pieces of content via a “dragonglass” RFID wristband.Syfy used a less elaborate, but equally creative tactic to drum up awareness around the latest Sharknado movie. The network used some good ol’ fashioned street marketing, hiring Elvis impersonators on stilts and showgirls with shark fins to help spread the word about the new movie. Comic-Con is a breeding ground for some of the best experiential marketing tactics out there. It serves as a reminder that even as we transition further and further into a digital world, it’s still important to provide your audience with opportunities to engage and experience your brand in person.

The Importance of Experiential

Experiential marketing is all about bringing your brand to life. It provides a tangible, participatory way for your consumers to engage with your brand. Consumers still crave personalized, unique experiences – and that’s where experiential comes in. It’s a customized, authentic experience that creates lasting memories. While most experiential marketing campaigns involve events, they aren’t always event-centric. Either way, the focus should not be on the event itself, but instead how people interact with your brand.In a world where physical engagement is fading, experiential marketing offers a way for your brand to reconnect with consumers. It helps you stand out from the rest and fosters that emotional connection that is imperative for customer longevity. That’s the ROI for experiential. It provides that emotional connection with, and loyalty from, the consumer that you can’t get with just ads and emails.

Why It Works

Experiential is a crucial part of Comic-Con. Not only do brands get a built-in audience of over 130 thousand individuals, but businesses that don’t necessarily have a direct tie to Comic-Con themes (like Shake Shack) are able to get involved in impactful ways. And because so much happens outside of the event itself, fans who weren’t able to snag a pass still feel like they’re part of the fun. This helps promote positive consumer-brand relationships. Interestingly enough, these experiential strategies don’t always require an incredible amount of money and planning. Syfy’s street marketing tactic was attention-grabbing and fit the overall vibe of the Sharknado franchise, without costing a fortune.But guess what – Comic-Con isn’t the only place to find amazing experiential marketing. For instance, we at Hawke Media hosted our own curated co-retail space called The Nest, which proved successful for dozens of branded activations. The Nest brought complementary brands together under one roof, with each brand occupying a designated, customised space in the shop.We created this three-month pop-up to provide a turnkey solution allowing ecommerce brands the opportunity to have physical interaction with current and potential consumers. Hawke essentially took care of the entire operational process, so it required very little participation and funds from the brands themselves.

How to Use It Yourself

Figuring out how to use experiential in your own marketing mix may seem a bit daunting. Don’t worry. We’re here for you.You don’t have to go for a Comic-Con vendor application right away, or begin brainstorming some convoluted guerilla marketing campaign. You can easily implement aspects of experiential marketing into your overall strategy.Always remember that any good offline activation actually takes advantage of your digital toolbox. Utilize Facebook ads to build awareness and drive (literal) traffic. Capture attendee contact information at the point-of-entry or purchase so you can follow-up with targeted email marketing. If you’re going to integrate experiential into your strategy, keep messaging and creative consistent across all mediums, digital or physical. Also keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Take a cue from Syfy and see how you can refresh tried and true marketing tactics to work for your brand. Or piggyback on existing campaigns to make it easier on your brain and budget.If you want to see to learn more about experiential marketing from the best in the biz, come to our annual ecommerce anti-conference Hawkefest! Not only will you experience the finest in experiential marketing, but you’ll get the chance to network with other ecommerce executives. You can hear what worked for them, discuss strategy and even potentially create a partnership. Hawkefest 2018 is an annual ecommerce anti-conference produced by Hawke Media that brings together the best and brightest in ecommerce for a day filled with collaboration, keynote presentations, immersive entertainment and gourmet cuisine. Apply to attend today by clicking here.