How to Choose the Best Experiential Marketing Agency: A Guide

How to Choose the Best Experiential Marketing Agency?

Now more than ever brands must strive to achieve genuine connection with consumers. Long gone are the days when a mere jingle, in-store demonstration, or targeted digital ad could suffice. Today, brands must create unforgettable experiences to truly capture the attention of their desired audiences. An experiential marketing agency helps brands do just that.

Creating memorable experiences is what experiential marketing agencies do best. These types of experiences can range from exclusive pop-up retail activations and immersive exhibits to trade shows and product showcases. Here, we’ll outline what an experiential marketing agency is and define the different types. We encourage you to follow along to learn tips for choosing an experiential marketing agency and what you need to know when hiring one.

What is an Experiential Marketing Agency?

Experiential marketing agencies specialize in bringing a brand’s ethos and products to life. Experiential agencies go beyond the bounds of traditional marketing practices, which are typically focused on product benefits or services (think commercials touting a product’s advantages). Alternatively, experiential marketing is all about establishing a consumer’s emotional connection with a brand.

While experiential marketing is often thought to be a hands-on approach, there are several ways experiential marketing agencies go about establishing the brand-consumer connection. 360-degree event marketing strategies are often an agency’s bread and butter. However, in a post-COVID world, events can be virtual, in-person, or a mix of both. Engagement is the common thread at the core of standout experiential marketing firms. Allowing consumers to connect with a brand on a personal level is what an experiential marketing agency does best.

Types of Experiential Marketing Agencies

Now that we’ve identified what experiential marketing firms are, we’ll look at the various types of agencies and the services they provide. Some agencies specialize in event marketing and event production, while others are more focused on custom or architectural (environmental) fabrication. Digital integration is another specialty some firms offer. Event production agencies specialize in the on-the-ground production of the event itself. Installation also plays a key role here. Other firms are more highly specialized and offer actual design and fabrication services, ranging from trade booth production to branded signage creation.

What To Know When Hiring an Experiential Marketing Agency?

There are several factors to consider when hiring an experiential marketing agency. Here, we’ll look at some key elements and dive into why they’re important.

  • Capabilities
    What skills does the agency you’re considering provide? If you’re looking to build out an experience at a major conference, you’ll want to see if the agency has a track record of this type of work. Perhaps you’re looking to insert your brand into an annual festival. Looking into whether your agency has experience with this type of limited, yet high-impact event type will help you decide.
  • Client Portfolio
    Who has the agency worked with? Look at their online portfolio or ask for specific project examples. This is an excellent way to determine fit and see how an agency has performed when executing projects for specific industries or types of brands.
  • Experience and Industry Expertise
    Does the agency specialize in a certain type of industry area or vertical? If it’s a trade show booth or conference activation you’re looking for, has the agency worked with other brands in this area successfully? Alternatively, if it’s an in-store experience you’re after, has the agency produced retail activations you’d want to emulate? Additionally, how well an experiential marketing agency embraces a brand, its featured products, and a desired event theme is important. While success can be subjective, understanding the background your agency has is critical when determining the right fit.
  • Reputation or Testimonials
    While speaking to former customers is the closest form of direct reference, asking for testimonials and case studies can give you a solid sense of an agency’s reputation. Is the experiential marketing agency you’re looking at known for proactive strategy? How have they measured success? Are they proactive, and innovative? Direct references are a great way to assess agency fit.
  • Cost
    What’s your budget? Identify this before going in and see if the agency you’re considering can manifest your vision within your price range.

7 Best Tips for Choosing an Experiential Marketing Agency

So, how do you go about selecting an experiential marketing agency? We’ve identified seven of the best tips for choosing the right one for you. From expertise to cost efficiency, we’ve got you covered.

  1. Determine Compatibility
    How creative is the agency you’re looking to hire? This is a great question when considering experiential marketing firms. However, compatibility is not limited to just creativity or capability. Looking into whether your prospective agency can handle out-of-state events, offers strategists to help with design direction or environmental styling, or understands your desired market are key factors to consider when selecting an experiential marketing firm.
  2. Identify Industry or Vertical Expertise
    Not all experiential marketing firms are created equal. Some are masters at event production and execution, while others also offer event ideation, content programming strategy, custom fabrication, furniture rentals, and virtual event conceptualization. If you’re unsure of the direction you want to take, an agency that casts a wide net can be highly beneficial.
  3. Google Press or Media Coverage
    Researching past projects and the media coverage they have garnered can be incredibly helpful as you examine agencies. Have the experiential marketing firm’s projects been featured in the news? Has the agency done something new and interesting that warranted media coverage in trade journals? This is a great way to assess an agency’s tactics, capabilities, and results.

  4. Get to Know Your Prospective Team
    Communication is key. Getting to know who you’ll be working with is critical to ensuring you get the outcome you want. Make sure to ask who your main point of contact will be, in addition to meeting your supporting team members, during both the strategy and implementation phases of your project.
  5. Understand Project Workflow and Agency Bandwidth
    To this end, aside from meeting your team, it’s important to understand how much time and availability the team and agency have overall. What is your deadline? Sure, an agency may offer the right expertise, but if you’re in a time crunch and an agency’s bandwidth is limited, they may not be the right experiential marketing firm for you.

  6. Speak to Former Clients
    Real-world experience counts for a lot. While it may not be the easiest task, speaking to former clients can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to evaluating an experiential marketing agency’s capability, work ethic, and results. When evaluating, it makes sense to ask your experiential marketing agency team for past or recurring client contact information. However, if you can’t get in touch, asking for concrete testimonials or case studies can be very helpful.
  7. Identify Key Performance Indicators
    Whether or not you’re new to experiential marketing or are simply looking for a new agency, identifying measurable results is a great way to spot compatibility. Does the agency you’re considering evaluate success (or lack thereof) as you see fit? How is the firm you’re working with going to determine engagement? Be sure to set your metrics and clarify those with your team in advance.

Experiential Marketing Agency in Austin, TX?

Looking to transform your brand experiences by hiring an experiential marketing agency? Get in touch with the Panacea Collective team by emailing hello@thepanaceaco.com or calling (512) 838-6500. You may also check out past projects and our roster of clients, and learn more about our capabilities here on our website.