Ultimate Tool for Experience Marketing

Classic marketing is dead. Today, we talk about experience marketing. But, what is it exactly, and how are events the ultimate tool for this?

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Classic marketing is dead. Today, we talk about experience marketing. But, what is it exactly, and how are events the ultimate tool for this? These are my questions for Jo Haegeman from White Rabbit.


Welcome, Jo, to our studio. We’re going to talk about experience marketing. It seems like a buzzword of these days. But, what is it about?


Well, if we want to talk about experience marketing, first we have to explain what 'experience economy' is. And for that, we have to go back to the end of the 90s, where a couple of economical wizards and gurus have noticed that, well, we’re sliding from the service economy into a new kind of economy, and they baptize it 'The Experience Economy'. Why? Because they noticed that instead of people paying for products or for services, that people were more interested in paying more for the experience that went along with the service.


But, what is that exactly, 'an experience'?


Well, that’s very individually… That’s very individual. It depends on... Well, of course you create it as a brand, you create an experience for a lot of people at the same time. But, every person experiencing that experience, experiences it in his own way. And that is the added-value of that experience. So, you create a kind of connection on an emotional level, between your brand and the guest, the client.


And how is dealing then with events and organizing events?


Well, an event of course, is THE ultimate tool for organizing an experience.


And, that’s because it impacts all the senses, or...?


You have to try and touch all the senses, in the same amount of time. But that’s not all. It has more to do with an emotional impact, than with a physical impact. So, we are basically emotional beings. So, everything that touches us emotionally will create a very strong bond, between what we’ve experienced and the brand that we’ve experienced it with. So, yes, the senses, trying to use all the senses is one thing. But what we really need to try to do, what you need to try to do as a company, is make the experience engaging, robust, compelling and memorable.


That theory sounds great, but what does that exactly mean in practice?


Yes, well what it actually means is that the whole of the experience should be considered as, a whole. Everything should be attached to one-another, and everything should be as a logical consequence of the thing that just happened. You cannot allow yourself or the experience to have a mistake or a small fault somewhere. It has to be an emotion, into the concept, into the theme, into the experience. So, that is what makes a good experience. To give you an example: Tomorrowland is one of the biggest events in Belgium that we have.


Yeah, but it has worldwide fame, so...


So... Yeah, and why? Because they’re doing that exactly. They’re trying to create a complete experience, on all levels. And, that’s just not making sure that the core is great, and that they have nice stages, and that …


There is also the video you receive, announcing the event, well, that's an experience…


Well, not just... Just viewing the video - that's just advertising. But, it creates a kind of expectation, for the people, and what you need to do to build an experience, is to surpass that expectation. So, one of the things that people are always wondering is, I’m going to do something, they have an expectation level, and they’ll be disappointed if that expectation is not met. But, if you as an organizer can surpass that expectation, then you have created a 'Wow!' experience, and that is something that events are, of course, ideally...


And, how does Tomorrowland manage to do that?


Well, they, of course, spend a lot of money on their decoration - They’re very well-known for that. But, actually they do it in their communication as well. Like, the wristbands you receive, they’re not just plastic bands with the logo on it; They’re handmade leather, with rope, and you get them in a small box and, you know, even those kind of things, enhance the experience.


But, even then, it's just a festival, and people are watching the concert, and so they’re not really participating in the event.


Well, if you’re dancing in the middle of about 20,000 people, it creates an experience as well. But, I understand the question. But, there are events like running events, big running events, marathons, triathalons, that people participate in just to have the experience of running or swimming together with thousands of people, and running over the hill, or going into the tunnel where they’re normally not allowed.


I did run the New York marathon, so that was a great experience from the start on, how it was built up and…


Yeah, that's one of the biggest elements of those kinds of experiences, is that it’s unique. You only do it once, perhaps twice, in a lifetime.


I think it will be just once...




Okay, but there are big events, but can you also practice experience marketing on a small event?


Well, you can actually practice experience marketing or experience economy on all domains and all levels in the economy. You can do it as a retailer; As a producer of products; As someone who’s just offering services. You can add experience to every level in the economy. Advertising, for instance, is now also jumping on the experience economy, they're making experience economy based, or experience marketing based movies that they then let go viral on social media, and it works.


Okay. And, is that repeatable, because if you had an experience once, can you repeat the same event?


Yes, you can, but the danger of course is routine. People expect if you have already had the experience of the event, the second time you come, you’ll expect more, because you’ve already been there, and if the organizers cannot meet those expectations, the client will go home.


You have to feel…


Satisfied. That's why, of course, every time you do the event, you have to make sure they can do something new...


A level higher…


To give something unique, and try to be creative again.


I want to thank you for coming to our studio.


No problem.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next time.