Experiential marketing is on the radar of most marketers, as brands strive to tap into our generation craving real life experiences. Many brands have already put serious effort into building and growing their online presence, but they're often missing the in-person element. Investing in branded experiential marketing that lets customers create memories in person, rather than simply watching a demo or looking at pictures, has proven to be one of the best marketing expenses for many brands.

Although experiential marketing is nothing new, the drive toward standing out in the already competitive space is stronger than ever. Brands are consistently searching for experienced marketers who can bring their products to life in innovative ways.

Here are 15 professionals who are making a serious impression in the world of experiential marketing today.

1. Ayni Raimondi, AirBnb

Using experiential marketing to convince consumers to travel can be challenging. But Ayni Raimondi, global head of brand activation for Airbnb, is always looking for ways to bring her brand to life. One notable event was called Airbnb Floating House, which sent a house down the River Thames to call attention to its services.

2. Daniel Yaffe, AnyRoad

Experiential Marketing can be a powerful tool for brands to engage with customers and leverage the experience economy. Until recently, brands have struggled to measure the effectiveness of real-life branded experiences. Daniel Yaffe (with his co-founder and brother Jonathan) is helping change much of that with the growth of the Experience Relationship Manager (ERM) category. In addition to learning more about their fan base and measuring the ROI from classes, tours, and events, his company AnyRoad also ensures that businesses can optimize their experiential marketing efforts to build lasting relationships with consumers.

3. Monica Brouwer, Casper

Online mattresses can be a tough sell, especially since customers can't try before making a purchase. In addition to giving 100 nights to try a mattress out, though, Casper is investing in marketing that lets consumers try their products in person. Experiential Marketing Director Monica Brouwer heads up incentives like the recent partnership at SXSW that allowed attendees to stay in a Casper mattress-equipped room for $99.

4. Kelly Smith, Zappos

Zappos is also an online brand challenged with the lack of a way to try products. Kelly Smith heads up the company's THINK strategy team, which came up with the popular #ImNotaBox campaign that challenges customers to turn their boxes into something creative.

5. Oliver Luckett, EFNI

As chairman of EFNI in Iceland, Oliver Luckett is changing the landscape of experiential marketing for brands across the world. In his role as a marketing leader in Iceland, Luckett advises others on getting their products in the hands of customers. He is also the CEO and founder of ReviloPark, a global cultural accelerator.

6. Erin Keating, Audi

After creating a strong experiential marketing plan at Audi, Erin Keating joined Stand Together as vice president of marketing and communications. During her time at Audi, she created campaigns that included exhibiting at CES and bringing driving experiences to local markets.

7. Dharmesh Rana, Carlsberg

Easter is known for candy, but U.K. beer brand Carlsberg didn't let that stop them from creating an experiential marketing campaign. Senior brand manager Dharmesh Rana headed up a drive to set up pop-up bars to celebrate the holiday.

8. Justin Lefkovitch, Mirrored Media

L.A. based experiential marketing firm Mirrored Media specializes in creating unique events for brands. CEO and former magician Justin Lefkovitch founded the firm to bridge the gap between entertainers and marketers. The company's client list includes a "who's who" of the film, entertainment, and music industry.

9. Radha Agrawal, Daybreaker

Morning dance parties have become a phenomenon across the globe, many thanks to Radha Argrawal, founder of Daybreaker. The serial social entrepreneur started Daybreaker as an early morning community dance party - and is now leveraging the event to create memorable experiences with partner brands. It's an innovative approach to experiential marketing that flips it on its head and is proving to be super effective.

10. Tina Byaruhanga, Buzz Events

It's one thing to make a splash in the U.S. or U.K., but Buzz Events Ltd.'s Tina Byaruhanga is bringing her expertise to Uganda's business community. Perhaps most notable is her firm's youth-oriented events, which bring young people from throughout the area together for concerts and festivals.

11. Brian Schultz, The Magnetic Collaborative

Brian Schultz is founder of The Magnetic Collaborative, a New York City-based brand experience firm that works with big brands like Dos Equis and Verizon Wireless. One of the firm's many notable projects was a high-profile recreation of the Seinfeld apartment in New York City, which was in partnership with Hulu.

12. Melissa Gonzalez, The Lionesque Group

As founder of The Lionesque Group, which specializes in pop-up events, Melissa Gonzalez works with retailers to plan and produce events across the country. She is also author of The Pop-Up Paradigm: Building Human Connections in a Digital Age. Her client list includes Thrive Global, Marc Jacobs, and Penguin Random House.

13. Mustafa Khan

Mustafa Khan is an event producer whose builds some of the most innovative and immersive experiences for brands. He has produced the biggest fashion-tech event in the Bay Area during the last 2 years and organizes the pre-work dance party, Daybreaker, in San Francisco. He's executed branded activations for companies including American Express, IBM, American Automobile Association, and Zappos - and often employs creative engagement - everything from drones, holograms, and robots (and even skydiving) into branded experiences.

14. Wayne Leeloy, G7 Entertainment Marketing

Wayne Leeloy's focus is on the entertainment industry in his role as head of strategy and innovation with G7 Entertainment Marketing. One of his most notable projects was helping Warner Music Nashville by designing a branded Wi-Fi experience that encouraged social shares.

15. Gabrielle Martinez, AgencyEA

AgencyEA's founder and managing partner, Gabrielle Martinez, specializes in curating custom experiences for brands. Her firm's projects include Intuit's 2016 QuickBooks Connect conference, Hampton Inn's biennial corporate conference, and the launch of Tru by Hilton.

Although experiential marketing has been around for decades, it has moved front and center as consumers crave in-person brand experiences. When companies can find innovative ways to get products in front of those customers, they can boost sales far more effectively than with products merely sitting on shelves or pictured online. These innovators in the experiential marketing space are challenging brands and marketers across all industries to create brand experiences that keep businesses connected to the audiences they serve.

Published on: Aug 24, 2017