The billboards are all over the city, and the commercial keeps popping up in my Instagram feed. But it wasn't until I heard Nike created a fun pop-up house nearby, that I started to pay attention. I even invited friends to come along to see what it was all about.

We laughed as we sat in the giant sponge area, and marveled at the art installation that mimicked our movements on the screen. 

That's the power of experiential marketing. It gets customers who may not have given your product any thought, to come and check you out.

Nike is a master of producing engaging experiences that help grow their massive brand. And with the recent launch of their new Epic React running shoe, the brand leaned into experiences heavily with their 'House of Go' pop-up houses in Chicago, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and other cities around the world. 

Elisabeth Freitas is a Running Brand Director at Nike. She told me why it was so important to launch the new shoe with customer experiences, rather than just with traditional forms of media. "Usually at Nike, especially for running, when we launch something...we want to have experiences that the influencers, the athletes, the everyday consumer can go and feel the story and what we are talking about," said Freitas.

You invest a ton of resources into creating products that will solve your customers' problems like none other. But to get the results you desire, you've got to give your product the kind of launch it deserves, so it can reach the customers who can benefit most from it.

Here are three ways Nike uses experiential marketing to win more customers with their product launches. Follow their lead to get more attention, engagement, and sales for what you offer.

1. Demonstrate product features.

Getting your customers to understand the benefits of your product can sometimes be tricky, especially when some of your distinctive features are more technical.

But with experiences, you can bring the unique elements of your products and services your customers will value most to life. Freitas explained that was one of the driving forces behind the 'House of Go' for Nike. "We wanted to find a way to express the technology of the shoe, making something very visible and making an experience that would help the consumers understand the attributes of the shoe."

It's one thing to tell your customers that your product is soft. It is quite another to demonstrate that softness to them in a tangible way. 

2. Remove barriers for trial.

For many people, it isn't a hard sell to get them to try samples of food during a trip to the grocery store. But for other products whose benefits don't necessarily provide instant gratification, finding unique ways to get your customers to test your product is essential.

The Nike 'House of Go' did this brilliantly. I've never considered myself a runner, and have yet to experience the joy that many feel doing it. So in my mind, the likelihood of me going into a store and lacing up a pair of running shoes to 'see how they feel' was pretty close to zero.

But at the pop-up house, not only did the euphoria of the experience get me to try the shoes on, but the convincing staff somehow persuaded me to run around the block with the shoes, while wearing a skirt.

The experience Nike created shook me out of my comfort zone while making running feel accessible. 

When you build thoughtful experiences, not only will you pave the way for your customers to trial your product, but you give them a glimpse of what it's like to be the person they aspire to be. 

3. Create excitement and buzz.

Your customers' attention is growing more scarce. And when you consider the thousands of marketing messages they are exposed to daily, it is even more important to give your customers a compelling reason to give you their attention.

Experiences are a smart way to do that.

When you deliver remarkable experiences, even for common products and services, like Pike's Place Fish Market, a cupcake ATM, or a New York City subway-themed bar in Buenos Aires, it gets your customers excited about being a part of it. And it gives them a reason to share.

Had it not been for the 'House of Go' I wouldn't have even considered adding running to my workout routine, let alone getting a running shoe. But the curated experience succeeded in getting my attention, creating desire, and giving me product information all at the same time. 

Increasingly, your customers are craving experiences. Now is the time start incorporating them as a staple of your mix. Like Nike, you'll start to win more customers when you do.

Published on: Mar 9, 2018