The Difference between Experiential Marketing and Event Marketing

Hamilton Hamilton

Experiential marketing and event marketing are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Although the terms sound similar, they refer to two complementary marketing strategies that differ in the focus of their objectives as well as their approach to engagement, experience, and time. When used in tandem, or deployed selectively, they can create effective brand experiences. Read on to learn how to differentiate event marketing and experiential marketing so that you can take advantage of the marketing approach that best suits your objectives. 

What is event marketing?

Event marketing is a strategy for promoting a brand or product. It involves planning, organizing, and orchestrating events. Successful event marketing creates excitement and generates a buzz that entices visitors to engage with brands and products. Event marketing can include many components such as displays, activities, presentations, communication materials, and more. With event marketing, the goal is often to reach the maximum number of consumers with an attractive and exciting approach. Product sampling and data collection are used to deliver meaningful content to consumers and retrieve insightful information in return. Event marketing is critical for making announcements, generating interest, shaping the presence of a brand, delivering valuable leads, and cultivating brand loyalists.

What is experiential marketing?

Experiential marketing is a strategy for engaging customers with brands or products. It extends the foundation of strong event design to include immersive experiences that facilitate dynamic consumer interactions and lasting emotional connections. In experiential marketing endeavors, customer engagement methods are often personalized and exhilarating. Experiential marketing can amplify and celebrate the feelings consumers experience when using a brand’s products or services. Experiential marketing strategies can activate the senses, provide notable value, and create unique experiences that inspire sharing. Brands can be positioned as creators of positive experiences, and the power of social media can be harnessed to spread brand awareness and gain recognition. The cohesive and connected processes involved in experiential marketing approaches can generate numerous positive touchpoints and strong, positive emotional responses that win business and solidify brand loyalty. 

Experiential Marketing versus Event Marketing: Key Differences

There are key differences that distinguish experiential and event marketing strategies. While the two approaches are both designed to create successful and memorable event experiences, they differ on the strategic points of emphasis. The following table summarizes event marketing vs experiential marketing:


Event Marketing

Experiential Marketing


The objectives of event marketing focus on delivering event announcements, invitations, and promotions that generate buzz and attract people to attend. Event marketing also includes pre, during, and post event planning as well as multichannel engagement solutions

The objectives of experiential marketing focus on creating positive brand associations and cultivating meaningful connections with customers through creative, immersive, multi-layered strategies. 

Engagement Approach

In event marketing, the engagement approach includes communication with consumers that optimizes the delivery of compelling and meaningful information to large numbers of visitors. The engagement approach focuses on making a lasting impression that solidifies the value of your brand. 

In experiential marketing, the engagement approach emphasizes communication that flows back and forth between the brand and the consumers. Customers are invited to be active participants in lively conversations, and strong relationships can be formed. 

Visitor Experience

In event marketing, the visitor experiences are thoughtfully designed to be attractive, cohesive, memorable, and compelling. Visitors can have personalized experiences. 

Experiential marketing is designed to ensure each visitor has a unique, personalized experience through multi-sensory activation or other forms of uniquely subjective experiences. Visitors are often invited to be themselves, and the brand celebrates the individuality of each attendee. 

Operational Timeline

In event marketing, the operational timeline usually has a start and end time that designates when guests can arrive and when they need to depart. Pre and post event programming and multichannel engagement solutions can extend the operational timeline and elongate the buzz. 

In experiential marketing, the operational timeline can include clear start and end times, but the timeline of engagement and buzz usually extends well-beyond the time frame of the scheduled programming. Because each visitor can have a personalized experience, guests often feel inspired to share their experiences on social media. As fans share stories, the buzz can grow and expand. With experiential marketing, the operational timeline is fluid because the excitement can live on indefinitely.     


Conquer Your Next Event

If you are looking to conquer your next event and make the most of your marketing activities, event and experiential marketing are both excellent strategies to have in your toolset. By focusing on reaching large numbers of visitors with thoughtfully curated information and cultivating meaningful experiences, your brand can do much more than just sell products. You can foster connections, build relationships, garner loyal customers, reach a wide audience, and make a difference in the world. To implement a successful experiential marketing strategy, partner with Hamilton. 


Hamilton is a full-service event marketing agency with a 75-year legacy creating immersive brand experiences for companies throughout North America and around the world. We design, produce, and execute integrated experiences that drive meaningful connections between your brand and your audience. To elevate your brand and excite your customers, contact Hamilton today!