If done right, your real estate business can benefit significantly from experiential real estate marketing.
But it’s not for everyone.
Many things need to come together to get good results from it.
For example, it can get costly relatively fast, and you won’t be able to scale as well as with digital marketing campaigns.
In this article, I will discuss what experiential marketing is, five types of experiential marketing and how to apply them to real estate, interesting stats, and the challenges you will likely face.
What Is Experiential Marketing
Experiential marketing is about creating an experience for potential customers, immersing them in the product you want them to buy, and creating a positive emotional connection with a brand.
It also overlaps with branded event marketing, sometimes called engagement marketing, participation marketing, or live marketing.
A wide array of marketing methods, off- and online, are applied (we will come to some examples later) to immerse the potential customers.
With the emotional connections created, brands aim to increase customer loyalty and improve customer lifetime value.
In a way, it is a bit similar to the Guerrilla Marketing I discussed in this article.
But there are some differences.
One of the key elements of Guerrilla Marketing is the element of surprise. Usually, a lower marketing budget is necessary, and it’s a one-off event.
The element of surprise can also create an experience, but immersion – quite an important element in experiential marketing – is not a must-have.
By the way, immersion and the possibility to engage are usually the elements that can further increase marketing costs, which is not the idea of Guerrilla Marketing.
Another difference between Guerrilla Marketing and classic event marketing is that experiential marketing is a long-term strategy, not a one-off event.
It is also not a one-way communication as often is the case with Guerrilla Marketing or event marketing but a two-way communication.
Three key elements of experiential marketing are:
- The audience needs to be able to participate and engage actively.
- The brand’s message and values are promoted.
- It needs to provide long-lasting value.
To not stay in the theoretical marketing terminology that usually makes you sleep in a college class, I have some examples of experiential marketing for you:
5 Types of Experiential Marketing and How to Apply Them to Real Estate
We can later extrapolate five types of experiential marketing for experiential real estate marketing and see if they can be applied after 2020, “the year of the mask.”
1) Education Based
When you can teach something to your potential clients via classes, workshops, online courses, and more, you enable your business to connect with your target audience and provide value simultaneously.
Doing education-based events offline or physically will be more effective. Why?
Much more senses can get involved, and you could make them more experiential by having them in places like galleries, a high-end home you are selling, a wine bar, and other special places that may come to mind that have some relation to your potential customers.
Unfortunately, post-2020, some might prefer doing them online now, where some experiential effects will get lost.
2) One-Off Pop-Up Experiences or Events
Remember the examples from the video above? These were one-off pop-up experiences, usually associated with experiential marketing.
Their common denominator is to break potential customers’ typical daily routine of everyday life experiences.
How can this be applied to real estate marketing?
You may have read my article about real estate Guerrilla Marketing.
I mentioned some ideas you might also use as one-off pop-up experiences there.
One that comes to mind is renting a bulldozer, parking it at a suitable place, using it as an advertising medium, and combining it with the sign “We buy houses.”
This would be rather for real estate investors.
To have experiential marketing out of that, you could have an event where people can bulldoze a home.
3) The Product Showcase
The typical product showcase is usually a bit boring but is experiential marketing that helps potential customers better understand a product.
They can be combined with creativity and further enhanced with technology to make them less boring.
This is to make them a more immersive experience.
In a way, open houses are a product showcase.
If you combine them with some virtual reality glasses and a game that potential customers can play within an augmented reality of a virtually staged home within the open house, you will make it more immersive.
Another idea of how this could be applied to real estate is by taking another idea from my real estate guerrilla marketing article.
You could ask several selling homeowners if they would be willing to host a combination of an open house and a treasure hunt for kids.
The homes should be in the same neighborhood, and the treasure hunt could be done in just one or several houses.
Of course, you want to have the parents present, because they make the buying decisions.
4) Direct Mail
Yes, direct mail can also be used for experiential marketing.
All marketing channels could be used if they manage to create an experience for potential customers that immerses them in a product and creates a positive emotional connection with a brand.
For example, the software company Bizible which offers revenue planning software, ran a campaign that sent a physical care package through mail to their potential customers.
It included their Total Economic Impact Bible, a handwritten note, and a donation to an environmental charity in the potential customer’s name.
So, you can also do experiential marketing by taking a more personal or individual approach.
There is also a good use case for this in real estate since direct mailing is quite a popular marketing method in the industry.
An idea that came to my mind was that you could send potential home buyers a type of 3D printed puzzle so they could build a miniature model of the property you aim to sell.
This company, for example, prints 3D residential home models.
This might be more suitable for developers that sell just a handful of property buildings and may not necessarily be the best idea for realtors with a large inventory.
5) Single-Person Events
Continuing with a personal and not necessarily event-based approach where many people are necessary, you can also do single-person events.
This means you give one person a unique experience.
The important part in doing that is enough creativity being applied.
The creativity part is important because you want a single person to share their experience on social media.
You may remember the James Bond film promotion clip from the video above from Coca-Cola.
This is an example of such a single-person event.
Only a handful of people were given a chance to win a prize to get to a second vending machine, but Coca-Cola filmed all of them to create a highly shareable video.
So, how to apply this to real estate marketing?
One idea of mine is to have a contest for a selected group of potential buyers that either participate in an open house or do a showing.
An open house might work better for this since other people might be present.
But after the year of the mask (2020), it might be rather during a showing.
You will have a 3D-printed custom model of the residential home there as a puzzle.
The potential buyer needs to solve the puzzle in a certain amount of time, and if he does, he will get a steep discount on the selling price, or a new kitchen or something else that you might find suitable as a prize.
7 Success Factors of Experiential Marketing Campaigns
- Clearly defined goals
- They should tell a story and let potential customers participate in the story.
- Customer information via quizzes, general feedback, and quizzes should be gathered.
- They make people share the campaign on social media.
- They can be measured.
- Potential customers that participate in experiential marketing campaigns are followed up.
- Have some sort of pre-launch campaign and post consistently in the lead-up to the event. In my article about open houses, I mentioned the types of pre-launch campaigns you can do.
- To create additional content, you want to document the journey and the event with photo ops, videos, etc. This is also important for the pre-launch campaign.
- Know the needs of your target group or potential customers, so you can efficiently tailor the experiential real estate marketing campaign to them.
Two Interesting Stats about Experiential Marketing
A statistic says that 74% of consumers are more likely to buy a product that is promoted with branded event marketing (source).
According to MC Kinsey, experiential marketing positively affects word of mouth.
It accounts for 50-80% of word-of-mouth activity (source).
The Challenges of Experiential Real Estate Marketing
So, how does experiential marketing or real estate marketing actually perform?
This question already points to some of the challenges you will likely face.
And these are the challenges:
1) Measuring the ROI
Measuring the ROI via different tracking methods in digital marketing is much easier.
You can then check and calculate metrics such as conversion rates, click-through rates, or costs per acquisition.
The latter very often has to be calculated separately.
But things get more complicated if you have, for example, the bulldozer event I mentioned as an idea above.
You will identify all the costs involved, the leads generated related to that specific campaign, and whether one of them made a buying or selling decision (depending on your target group).
This is a bit more costly to do than with digital marketing campaigns.
2) Not Much Scaling Potential
If you put in some testing work over several months for, let’s say, a Google Ads Campaign, you may get to a winning campaign (generating leads consistently).
If your market is large enough in search volume, you can scale this campaign by increasing your monthly ad budget.
This is another story if you end up with a winning experiential real estate marketing campaign.
First, testing in different variations will be highly costly until you get to a winner, so you better have a winner from the get-go.
And if you get a winner from the get-go, it will be much more costly to scale.
For example, you will have a lot more organizational and legal overheads and will need much more manpower to scale the bulldozer campaign.
3) Organizing and Structuring the Lead Information
In digital marketing, you usually have a sign-up form on a landing page or other type of page where you can identify who signed up for what product.
This process is less prone to errors than when you have an offline event.
At least for open house events, some solutions already exist to collect the leads.
But during creative experiential marketing campaigns, more mistakes can screw up your follow-up afterward.
You may collect a lead and link it to the wrong product.
An example would be a potential buyer who participated in an open house event for a single-family residential home with three bedrooms.
You link the lead to an open house event of a high-end home with five bedrooms, a movie theater, and a pool.
Depending on if you include more Guerrilla Marketing elements that can reduce the costs of experiential marketing, you can expect costs of a few thousand dollars.
Costs can go up to six figures if you do a fully fletched and elaborated campaign.
I wouldn’t recommend experiential real estate marketing if you don’t know the needs of your target group or potential customers well enough.
I also wouldn’t go for it if you haven’t collected some data and don’t have experience from a winning digital marketing campaign (often less costly and better measurable) about the potential customers you want to target.
So, I wouldn’t consider it as a marketing method to start out with for a single real estate professional.
It is likely more suitable for a medium-sized or large real estate business with a medium-sized or large marketing budget since costs can add up quite quickly.
Some software should also be used to better measure the results so you can mitigate the challenges.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.