How to Use Creative Visual Marketing to Boost Experiential in the Age of COVID-19

July 28, 2020

After months of social distancing, people are craving human connection more than ever. As stay-at-home orders expire and the country reopens in some areas, people will return to life — not necessarily as they knew it, but life nonetheless. Restaurants are allowing dine-in customers in limited numbers, and stores are once again opening their doors, albeit cautiously.

Another part of life that will return? Experiential marketing. Although the country has been quiet for several months, brands have not. While the world embraces its new normal, experiential marketing will do likewise.

Creating and executing brand experiences will look very different because of COVID-19, and the same old event marketing tactics won’t do. In this new reality, experiences once meant to be tangible will focus more on creative visual marketing.

Look, Don’t Touch

Two potential challenges come up as we learn how to use visual marketing to host events in a COVID-19 world:

  1. Cost: Creating large displays might max out your event marketing budget. Design experiences that rely on only a few staffers. How? Create large visual interactions that can serve as photo-opp backgrounds, for example. Simplify the experience to make it hyper-focused, memorable, and — most importantly — powerful.
  2. Interaction: Be careful not to let the visual emphasis of your experience cause it to feel impersonal. Design your experience around different types of contactless interaction, and flex your creative muscles. When possible, use technology for contact-free interactions. As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, it’s amazing what tech can do to connect people without physically connecting.

New Experiential in a New Normal

The notion that people love to get free merchandise at events remains true. But it’s not exactly easy to hand out physical rewards like branded T-shirts, giveaway prizes, and keychains in a way that is both safe and sanitary. How do we do this in a world that will likely feel the effects of COVID-19 long into the future?

  • Find methods to distribute merchandise that both minimize human contact and contact with surfaces everyone will touch. 
  • All brand ambassadors should be required to wear masks and gloves to prevent the spread of infection. 
  • Ensure that all attendees practice social distancing and thorough sanitization processes.
  • Consider offering digital giveaways and rewards. Email gift cards to participants, or let people design their own shirts and then mail them to the winners after the event.

The world looks different now. Just because extra precautions are needed to confront these new experiential event marketing challenges, there is no reason gatherings can’t still be an incredible way to connect and gather.

Our experiential event marketing tactics just might have to become more creative. We’re moving through an unprecedented crisis, and so is our industry. That said, our world is craving connection more than ever before — safe and strategic experiential marketing can bring it to them.


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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: