The 10 Golden Rules of Experiential Marketing

Posted by Samantha Stallard on April 18, 2018
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Last week, 23 Stories' VP of experiential, Erica Boeke, and Refinery 29/29Rooms' director of experiential, Albie Hueston combined forces at the 35th annual IEG Sponsorship Conference in Chicago, IL. The two experiential masterminds co-presented the session, "Adding Value for Brands through Authentic Experiences and Events," which included 10 Golden Rules of Experiential Marketing. Check out some highlights from their presentation below:

Consumers crave disruptive, immersive, and inspiring experiences. In fact, according to Event Marketer's Event Track 2017 study:

  • 75% of Millennials would choose to spend money on an experience rather than buying something desirable
  • 80% participated in a live experience (including concerts, festivals, and performing arts) in the last year
  • 70% believe that participating in a live experience makes them more connected to the world
  • 25% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to their friends after attending an event
  • 72% of consumers say friends' posts about branded experiences make them likely to purchase the brand
  • 70% of consumers say they feel more positive about a brand after reviewing content from experiences and events

Experiences matter to brands more than ever. However knowing the emphasis consumers place on authentic and exciting IRL interactions, a study by Edelman Consumer Marketing still concluded that 89% of consumers think companies do not create good brand experiences. 23 Stories and Refinery29 strive to be apart of the 11% that get it right. And we invite brands and partners to come along for the ride.

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 2.17.14 PM29Rooms' first Los Angeles event. Photo courtesy: Refinery29

Hueston kicked off with Refinery29's mission and mantra -- Refinery29 is the media company for the most powerful generation of women. The company empowers a new generation of female leaders, doers and consumers, celebrating their independent spirit with a mix of inspiration and serviceability that enables them to live their best, most fulfilled, most creative lives. They create scalable content that entertains, inspires, and empowers the most influential generation of women globally.

All with… No judgement. No prescription. Just fearless confidence and inspiration.

Refinery29 strives to create a 360 degree ecosystem around all of their experiences, including:

  • Social: Creating experiences worth talking about through engaging programming and visually arresting design
  • Editorial: Leveraging their credibility as an editorial platform
  • Photo and video: Harnessing their photo and video departments to create shareable assets
  • Talent: Refinery29's in-house talent agency puts the right people in the right places at the right time

Condé Nast founded 23 Stories in January 2015. The branded content arm of the company debuted as a one-stop shop to develop campaigns and distribute them throughout Condé Nast publications. Now more than 100 employees, 23 Stories has expanded its services to include experiential production, talent casting, and consulting. By working with 23 Stories, brands have the ability to be part of Condé Nast's culture via the company's tentpoles and activations at key cultural gatherings -- or have the agency create bespoke activations on their behalf.

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Photo courtesy: Erica Boeke's Instagram page

Boeke and Hueston's 10 Golden Rules of Experiential Marketing
1.  Define the white space:
  • Use data to identify the event's need
  • ... but also listen to your gut
  • Once you see the gap, fill it

2.  Audience comes first:

  • Put the audience center stage
  • They're who drives, controls, and inspires the activation
  • Focus on tangible face-to-face interactions and community building
  • Leverage audience insights

3.  Authenticity and awe:

  • Be truthful
  • Champion authenticity
  • Humanize the experience
  • Create simple and intuitive interactions

4.  Location, location, location:

  • Set the scene
  • The location is a character in your "play" 
  • At launch, consider going where the people are
  • When building independently, find new venues that need exposure -- and negotiate a great deal!

5.  Sensorial and lasting:

  • Invite consumers to step into your brand
  • Build a space to play and engage
  • Find the beauty in analog
  • Discover new forms to express your brand

6.  Amplify or die:

  • Make every attendee an ambassador
  • Content must live beyond the event and across platforms
  • Create share-ready moments — but make then meaningful
  • Make the platform your partner
  • Beware influencer and social backlash (see Authenticity!)

7.  Use technology wisely:

  • Transport with tech
  • Start with your story
  • Blur the lines between tech and analog
  • Make it intuitive, seamless and invisible

8.  Heavily vet partners and vendors:

  • Trust is everything
  • Ensure all parties understand the power of the partnership
  • Know which shortcuts you can take and which you can't
  • Allow for no margin of error
  • Two words: Fyre Festival!

9.  Launch, build, and innovate:

  • Create a canvas for innovation
  • Expand and re-imagine while always raising the bar 
  • Build authentically and always prioritize the consumer experience
  • Resist the urge to start over again each time

10.  Always leave them wanting more:

  • There's always a next time
  • Don't try to cram too much in
  • Present teaser content for your next event
  • Never underestimate the power of surprise, which the speakers brought to life with gold-flecked Sweet Mandy B's cupcakes and gold Poppin notebooks for everyone

Erica Boeke is a writer, author, sports-lover, lady boss, entrepreneur, and VP of Strategy at 23 Stories Experience Agency
Albie Hueston oversee creative strategy and design direction for experiential programs for Refinery29/29Rooms 


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Topics: marketing news, events, go beyond, brand experiences

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