If there’s one mistake I’ve seen people make with experiential marketing, it’s not making it personal and authentic enough. The experience doesn’t resonate.

Memorable experiences aren’t generic, so why would you invest money into creating events that aren’t personalized and authentic? The best experiences will build relationships and drive revenue. A memorable experience will resonate for years to come. A compelling experience will cut through the event clutter and your clients and prospects will show up.

I am always on the hunt for that great experience that uses marketing dollars in a smart and effective way. An experience with a clear KPM: Will the right people you want to touch show up.

Why the Most Most Grandiose Experience May Not Be the Most Memorable

When I talk about generic experiences, I’m referring to run-of-the-mill events that so many people do:

The cocktail reception.

The steak dinner.

While both can be wonderful, they’re the kinds of events people are accustomed to. Why not wow your audience with something more out of the box? A fresh and new experience.

Example: I am so passionate about the donut culture in Manhattan and I have found the best of the best. The experience changed my impression of the humble donut and now I am offering this curated donut tour to companies.

Another example:

I worked with a bank a few years ago who hired me to help with a Chicago-based event. Their attendees would be flying in from all around the globe, and would be invited to a dinner that evening, then a sales presentation the next day.

The bank’s idea? A multi-course dinner, at one of the city’s most renowned restaurants.

But I vetoed the idea. I put myself in the attendee’s shoes. They’d be flying in, probably jetlagged. They have to check in their hotels, shower, then get dressed up to go out for a 4 hour 12-course wine dinner curated by me. For the right client this would be perfect but not for this one.

These folks weren’t just flying in; they were flying in on private jets. They made 10-figure salaries. While the restaurant the bank was considering was impressive, did they really want a 12-course meal? I didn’t think so. 

“Instead of a sit down dinner,” I said, “How about the ultimate hot dog tour of Chicago?”

I went on to paint the picture: rather than having to dress up for dinner, the guests could be casual. We would pick them up in a luxury van at the hotel and give them an insider’s tour of the best hot dogs Chicago had to offer. We’d have the hot dog business owners talk to the guests and give them the VIP treatment. And Champagne would be served throughout the night!

The managing director said he’d support the idea, but I could tell he had reservations.

How did the event go? You can guess. They’re still talking about it years later. After the sensational tour, the guests were more open to the bank’s presentations the next day.

Deals were done. Sales were made. Significant sales. 27 million dollars from one transaction.

And we did the hot dog tour for years!

This was a powerful and cost effective experience.

Here are some additional ideas that have worked well for companies who are looking for something different.

  • A Chinese Banquet
  • A BBQ Crawl
  • An Indian Feast
  • A Speakeasy Tour
  • An insider tour of Napa Valley
  • An event that celebrates great wine and great food made by great women

Bringing More Personalization into Your Experiential Marketing

Get inspired to find better ways to engage your audience through experiences. Start with the end in mind: how many deals do you want to close? How many leads do you want to generate? much are you willing to spend in order to generate that number of sales?

Next, put yourself in your client’s shoes. I knew that this audience would be tired from travel and not be impressed with yet another fancy meal. They’d been there. Done that. Instead, they were put into the unfamiliar and intriguing on the ultimate hot dog tour. This experience resonated for years to come.

Wow your customers. Create personalized experiences that show that you’re paying attention. You will stand out from the crowd and make more money.