16 November 2022 1275 words, 6 min. read

Activation marketing: definition, advice, and examples

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
Activation marketing is the perfect tool to increase brand awareness. This set of operational campaigns calls on everyone’s creativity. It aims to create authentic, immersive, personal experiences for your marketing targets. But basically, how to make this process work perfectly? […]

Activation marketing is the perfect tool to increase brand awareness. This set of operational campaigns calls on everyone’s creativity. It aims to create authentic, immersive, personal experiences for your marketing targets. But basically, how to make this process work perfectly? What are the tricks you must know absolutely? What are the examples that prove the truth of this advice? You will find all the answers to these questions in this article.


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All about activation marketing in 30 seconds

  • Large structures like Revolve make up to 70% of their profits in activation marketing.
  • To make an impression on consumers’ minds, strong, positive, and personal emotions are sought.
  • Netflix, Revolve, and DirecTV are among the most recognized companies for their activation marketing campaigns.
  • Virality is a key factor in the success of activation marketing.
  • It is impossible to use this process without including digital channels in your activation marketing strategy.

Chapter 1

Activation marketing: definition

Activation marketing is a set of processes that increase brand awareness. It has several strings to its bow:

  • Stimulate trust between consumers and the brand (Saeed, R., 2015).
  • Promote the transmission of complimentary messages towards your offer.

It occurs both in physical sales outlets and on digital channels. We find it in different forms. At the end of the article, three examples of good activation marketing campaigns provide a better understanding of the ins and outs of this method.

Today, its solutions fall into two categories:

  • “drive to web”: the underlying objective is to send users to the sales website
  • “drive to store”: very useful to attract more traffic in store

Before embarking on activation marketing, a quality customer experience is a prerequisite. In addition, it strongly encourages the beneficial effects of advocacy marketing, a great practice for online word-of-mouth.

Chapter 2

What is the purpose of activation marketing?

Activation marketing is an unparalleled weapon for brands facing strong competition in their segment. It attracts the attention of interesting prospects, and its operational campaigns are original and interactive. Moreover, it accelerates the process of a customer buying a product/service.

Why does it work so well? This method encourages customers to become imbued with the brand’s appearance to encourage them to buy. Thus, we play on the viral character of marketing campaigns to increase the conversion rate. It is, therefore, an integral component of guerrilla marketing: to be better heard to better sell.

Chapter 3

3 tips for your activation marketing campaigns

As for activation marketing, there are good practices to put in place to maximize its benefits. Here are three: samples, positive emotions, and digital channels.

Tip N° 1: Spreading the brand name

A good idea is to send samples, for example. This creates value, but above all, a memory for the customer. This is the ideal way to make a place for yourself in the mind of the customer you wish to retain.

Here are some ideas for actions to adopt to increase your brand awareness:

  • Physical and digital events: tastings, product testing, sponsorship, and so on.
  • Digital marketing: writing content regularly, working with influencers, etc.
activation marketing agri-food

Tastings, a good way to do activation marketing.

Tip N° 2: The customer experience should evoke positive emotions

Customers and prospects must be satisfied when participating in an activation marketing activity. This is the added value of this marketing practice: to create positive emotions.

We can propose these experiences at events, parties, and other gatherings where the target audience is present. Here are some examples of venues that fit this description:

To use Red Bull as an example, its marketing efforts are emotionally charged and, therefore, the most memorable. In other words, there’s no need to plaster the emblem everywhere; people will remember the brand if the emotion is there. So, brand visibility has to come second to the experience.

activation marketing Red Bull

Red Bull is the master of activation marketing in extreme sports.

Tip N° 3: Recognizing the value of digital channels

Today, social media is an essential component of marketing efforts. We must share activation marketing operations as much as possible to go viral. The reach of your marketing efforts will be multiplied tenfold, and the return on investment will be even stronger. All means are good to achieve this, and any channel generating traffic must be considered:

  • Online media: they increase the reach of your campaign and bring you closer to your target audience.
  • Social networks: here, we are mainly interested in opinion leaders. It is, therefore, wise to collaborate with these people who play an important role in online consumption.
activation marketing réseaux sociaux

Digital channels should not be ignored for your marketing activation campaigns.

Chapter 4

3 examples of effective activation marketing

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here are 3 recognized examples of good activation marketing in the entertainment and clothing industries.

Netflix and its immersion in fiction

In 2018, Netflix’s booth at CES 2018 was one of the most popular at the show. Beyond the American company’s mere awareness, its original theme truly captured attention. Indeed, Altered Carbon was chosen as the booth’s main experience. The goal of this approach was to include visitors in the futuristic universe of the series.

Netflix did not skimp on the means. Psychasec, a company that enables mind transfers for its customers in Altered Carbon, sold its service while showing several product models at its booth. Here, all the scripted elements of the series were taken up to make the experience more likely.

activation marketing Netflix

Netflix included CES attendees in the universe of its hit program. It gave them the illusion that science fiction was no longer fiction

Influencers at the heart of Revolve’s business

The Revolve Festival, held annually at Coachella, is a stunning example of activation marketing. Indeed, its rigorous process sets it apart from other American festivals. Only the biggest names in the music industry and select influencers can attend the event. By making such a moment exclusive, the Revolve apparel company amplifies the emotions aroused in customers. The company creates envy, anticipation, and a sense of reward among participants.

In addition, influencer marketing helps the company increase its online sales. Michael Mente, CEO of the billionaire structure, admitted it 5 years ago:

Influencers are responsible for 70% of Revolve’s revenue.

DirecTV: bring together to sell better

Partnering with something your audience enjoys is a good start to increasing your company’s visibility. DirecTV understands this. The U.S. television service has a sports fan base. So, the company organized a tailgate party outside of Boston. Participants gather around their cars in this event to spend a convivial moment. This practice is common in North America.

DirecTV invited its customers to watch American soccer games on giant screens. At the same time, it was possible to take pictures of themselves with branded accessories. Successful, DirecTV was original, entertaining, and memorable. These three words could sum up what activation marketing is all about. Thanks to these values, DirecTV was able to convince its current customers that its service surpassed that of the competition. It’s one step closer to building loyalty.

activation marketing DirecTV

DirecTV relies on activation marketing to boost customer satisfaction: a winning bet! (source: Shutterstock)

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